Defective foundation walls are a common problem, especially for concrete block walls. Foundation walls around full basement are all-too-often cracked and pushed inward by soil against the wall.
In New Jersey alone, at least several tens of thousands of basement foundation walls built in the last 40 years have a major problem with excessive height of soil backfill. Many of these walls have been damaged or severely damaged.
This extensive problem most often begins with faulty design. The wall is not thick enough to resist lateral force from soil pressure against the wall. Height of soil backfill (measured from basement floor) often exceeds.........or greatly exceeds........standard limits specified by the building code.
Defective construction methods can also be the cause, or contributing factor, for damaged foundation walls.
Other factors include improper drainage that allows soil against the wall to become saturated (or frozen), tree roots pushing against wall, and weight of vehicles on driveway adjacent to wall.
On the web site, see "Foundation Wall Design" and "Cracked Foundation Wall" for further information.