Bowed & Buckling Foundation Wall Repair
If you have observed foundation wall movement in your basement it is best to get a professional structural assessment. Hydrostatic pressure is most often the cause of walls movement. When soils expand and contract during normal seasonal weather changes the walls of incur fatigue, stress and result in damage. Rain, melting snow, frost are key culprits that impact these changes.
Cracking, bowing, and buckling foundations are indicators of a serious problem that should taken seriously and repaired as soon as possible. Entire replacement of the foundation is not usually necesary. In fact, it’s rarely suggested by a structural engineer. At Quality Waterproofing we use the following repair methods to address a bowing or buckling basement wall:
Steel Beam Foundation Reinforcement
In order to install steel beam foundation supports, first, the floor along the foundation walls must be jackhammered where the beams will be placed. The beams are then installed and bolted to the wooden floor joists. The pressure bearing against the wall is transferred to the wood floor joists.
This installation has many other shortcomings. Because the steel beams are straight, rigid supports, they will only touch the foundation wall where it’s bowed outwards the worst - the rest of the wall will not be supported. These beams are also large and awkward, and their installation causes the homeowner to lose several inches of living space while forcing them to remove drywall panels (in finished basements) for the installation. Finally, the installation merely braces the walls, whereas other foundation repair methods can provide a way for homeowners to actually straighten and repair the wall as well.
The I-beam method is usually used in cases where carbon fiber can't be used due to the advanced decay of foundation walls. Our preferred method of repair is to use carbon fiber.
Carbon Fiber Fabric
“Carbon fiber” is a shorthand term for “carbon fiber reinforced plastic”. Used in many high tech applications from aerospace to sporting goods, carbon fiber is an ultra light material that offers incredible strength making it ideal for foundation repair. Carbon fiber strips, incredibly strong and flexible, are used in foundation repair by affixing the strips, often in conjunction with a wall crack repair if moisture is present to the damaged foundation walls. Once the quick-setting epoxy has cured, the strip has bonded to the wall and completely prevents any further movement, stabilizing the foundation.
Carbon fiber is an effective foundation repair material for poured concrete and concrete block foundation walls where the wall has moved about two or three inches or less. Properly applied, it has little visual impact in the wall surface and can be painted over. It presents no obstacle to finishing the basement space as regular stud walls can be erected over the foundation wall.
Carbon fiber fabric installs in tough strips on the foundation walls in order to reinforce the weakened areas. To install these, the areas where installation will occur are treated and applied with an epoxy glue. Carbon fiber fabric strips are installed based on mathematical calculations of needed load distribution. The installation is fast, economical and leaves a homeowner with about the same living space.
Although carbon fiber is usually the most preferred repair method, it doesn't strengthen the area of the wall where there is no application of material. Therefore, in cases where the damage has not been addressed for a long period of time there are rare instances where a replacement wall may be needed.
Rebuilding the Foundation Wall
Walls with severe structural damage will show additional horizontal cracks, shearing, and bowing as time progresses, and in some cases, the only way to repair the problem is to completely remove and rebuild the foundation wall.
This process requires a lot of work, beginning in the yard. Before the foundation is excavated, the soil around the foundation is removed. This includes all landscaping such as gardens, steps, walkways, foliage, and everything else located along the foundation. Then the foundation will be excavated with a perimeter trench along the entire length of the structure. Temporary supports will be put in place as the foundation walls are removed and replaced. When the job is completed, the landscaping and dirt can be returned. Over time the soil will compact and settle.
Replacement of walls is the most expensive and least desirable repair method, however, at times it can not be avoided.