A damaged, buckling, or leaning foundation wall is a significant issue that will not get better on its own. In fact, a foundation wall that is left to buckle and lean without professional intervention is apt to collapse entirely over time. This poses a substantial number of risks for a property and anyone who happens to be in the vicinity of the wall when it collapses. For homeowners in and around Knoxville, Tennessee, this issue can grow with alarming speed.
Learning to spot the signs of damaged foundation walls is vital to ensuring that you spot issues early and maintain the health of your property. In the case of damaged or leaning walls, channel anchors may well be one of the best solutions for your property. It is important to contact a professional to ensure that you fully understand just what is going on in your home.
What Are Channel Anchors?
Channel anchors are a form of wall anchor that can be used to stabilize and even straighten bowing foundation walls. This prevents collapse and can be used to tackle some underlying issues, but there are some requirements and limitations. Wall anchors were recognized in 1992 by U.S. Housing Department Appraisers as one of the most effective ways to stabilize and straighten the damaged wall.
Unlike plate wall anchors (which use rectangular or square metal plates) and helical tieback anchors (which primarily use rods), channel anchors use steel channels or brackets that look like wall beams.
Whatever they look like, however, wall anchors use the same basic principles to prevent damaged walls from collapsing. Wall anchors exert opposing pressure to prevent further deviation and, where appropriate, straighten the wall permanently. Wall anchors are not the only workable solutions, however.
When To Use Channel Wall Anchors
As previously noted, wall anchors are specialized repair tools that are used when they are damaged, leaning, buckling, or starting to bow. However, channel anchors, and indeed wall anchors, are not the only option when it comes to foundation or basement wall repair. There are other forms of wall anchors, for a start, and other, less invasive options for less severe damage. The three main options are:
Carbon Fiber Reinforcement
Carbon fiber reinforcement is the least invasive of all the solutions that can be deployed to deal with damaged or deviating walls. This involves using resin and thin carbon fiber straps to reinforce damaged walls and prevent further deviation or bowing. This is incredibly effective because of the immense strength of carbon fiber as a material. There are limitations, however.
Carbon fiber reinforcement is only suitable for walls that have deviated by 2mm or less, for example, and are not capable of straightening a damaged wall. However, it is quite easy to disguise, can be installed in almost any space, and only requires the surface of the wall to be roughened.
Wall beams function more like wall anchors in that they exert pressure and can be used to straighten the wall in question. Unfortunately, it is the bulkiest solution and very hard to disguise or hide without constructing a false wall of some kind.
However, beams are also versatile and can be installed in almost any space. This is thanks to the way they can be tailored to suit the needs of the space. They are also minimally invasive and can be installed very quickly. This makes them a great option for homes with seriously damaged walls that have no outside space to speak of.
Wall anchors are a diverse solution, but whether you have channel anchors, helical anchors, or plate anchors, you will need a certain amount of outdoor space to accommodate them. Wall anchors must be anchored in the earth outside of your home. This limits where they can be used.
Wall anchors are also the most invasive solution to wall damage. They will take longer and cause more disruption than carbon fiber reinforcement and wall beams. However, they are easier to disguise than beams in most cases and will let you straighten the wall in question.
You should contact a professional to discuss your property’s situation and the best way to deal with the issues at work. If they decide that channel anchors are, indeed, the best choice for your home, the installation process will be relatively quick.
Bowing foundation walls are never a good sign and should not be ignored no matter how minimal you think the damage is. This is partly because of the list of potential causes. Bowing walls are often the beginning, and the underlying and co-occurring issues can be widespread and severe.
All properties must deal with some level of hydrostatic pressure. Hydrostatic pressure is merely the weight of the water in the soil around your property and its foundation. Every home is constructed with a certain threshold for hydrostatic pressure in place. Problems only arise when this threshold is exceeded for some reason. This can happen for several reasons, both internal and external.
Internal causes of high hydrostatic pressure include plumbing leaks and burst pipes. Burst pipes can produce a huge amount of water and contribute to hydrostatic pressure significantly (albeit on a temporary basis). Exterior sources of moisture and strong hydrostatic pressure, by contrast, tend to have to do with the weather and your property’s ability to collect, drain, and divert water from around its perimeter. Finally, underground water sources that raise the water table can cause huge rises in the hydrostatic pressure that any home faces.
As well as the presence of excess hydrostatic pressure, you must consider the amount of support that your foundation walls are getting. Your foundation walls are, unsurprisingly, highly reliant on your foundation to ensure stability and keep them in place. Any damage to or movement in your foundation can cause your foundation walls to lean, bow, or buckle under inappropriately distributed weight or start leaning because of uneven sinking.
Moisture and soil saturation are also common underlying causes of foundation subsidence, settlement, and lateral movement. You should invest time and energy into ensuring you get proper drainage and moisture management. It could save you a lot of time and money overall by preventing avoidable damage and structural movement.
There are many homeowners who feel that it is better, or at least preferable, to wait until problems become hard to ignore or work around before they act. While we certainly understand the desire to deal with issues at an appropriate time, you should never delay when it comes to structural damage and problems.
Waiting Could Cost You More Money
Structural problems of all kinds are notorious for instability and are well-known for growing uncontrollably, unexpectedly, and exponentially when left alone. As such, any structural damage will be the easiest and cheapest to fix when they are first discovered. If you wait any longer, they are apt to cause secondary issues and become more serious and complex very quickly.
This is not just a financial issue, however. Bowing walls are serious structural problems that have many effects on the wider structure of your home. If left to grow unchecked, they can eventually collapse and even take other parts of your home down with them. As well as being disastrous for your property, this could have serious implications for your health and well-being. Anyone in its wake as it collapses could be seriously injured.
Acting Quickly Has Benefits
As you might imagine, acting quickly in the face of a bowing wall (or any structural damage) is beneficial for your home, your health, and your finances. By acting quickly, you will prevent avoidable issues and injuries and keep your repair costs low, but you will also improve the environment inside your home and protect its resale value for the future.
Structural damage is intimately linked with moisture, dampness, and humidity. As such, many of the secondary issues that unchecked damage can cause present a danger to your health. Mold and mildew, wood rot, and pest infestations are all common in properties with unresolved structural damage. Acting quickly will seriously reduce the risk of these problems forming in the first place. Reaping the full benefits of a speedy solution is dependent on ensuring that you get the right solution and that you have the best tools for the job.
We do not recommend that you try to resolve or repair structural damage alone. Doing so could result in you having many different issues both during and after the process. What is worse, you could put your home, yourself, and anyone helping in danger by going it alone.
The Drawbacks of DIY
Attempting to resolve a bowing foundation wall or any kind of foundation damage is an inherently complicated, intensive, and risky process that requires training, the right tools, and the ability to deal with co-occurring issues as they arise. These are things that even the most enthusiastic DIY aficionado is unlikely to have, and as such, DIY repairs are far more likely to fail than succeed. This happens for several reasons, but the most common is a failure to accurately diagnose the underlying and connected issues in full.
Properly identifying the underlying factors is key when it comes to any form of structural damage. If you do not identify all underlying causes and connected issues, you will be unable to formulate a full and appropriate repair solution. As such, the issue within your foundation and walls is more likely to recur later down the road. Worse still, you could cause more damage to the walls in question by implementing an inappropriate repair solution.
The Benefits of Professional Help
Damaged walls are far more at risk of collapse than healthy ones. This makes the process of repair dangerous because there is a chance that inappropriate tools, force, or solutions may cause a collapse. If this happens, anyone in the vicinity of the wall, or the walls and floors directly attached to it will be at risk for severe or in serious cases, fatal injury. Professionals are well versed in the dangers associated with these repairs and can take measures to mitigate this issue. This is just one of the reasons that professional repairs are preferred, but it is the single most important one.
Beyond this, professional services offer a far better result and a higher quality finish. This is partly because of the extensive training required to become a certified foundation repair specialist, but also because of their access to heavy tools and equipment. The right tools can be hard to get ahold of, but they make all the difference. This ensures their safety, and yours, but also makes sure that the repair process is far more streamlined, and the results are of a higher standard. In short, professional repairs are quicker, easier, and far more likely to be permanent in nature.
Installing Your Channel Anchors
Installing channel anchors is a specialist task that should only be undertaken by a professional for several reasons. While the situation in your home will have a significant impact on the process, there are seven steps to channel anchor installation that will always be followed. They are:
Boring Earth Anchor Holes
First and foremost, our team will need to inspect the damage and map out the areas the channel anchors will be best placed. This will be of significant use to the contractors when they arrive, as they will consult the written proposal to begin drilling the necessary foundation holes immediately.
At each of the highlighted locations, your property’s foundation will be exposed inside. A section of sod will be carefully removed from a corresponding exterior location so that a hole can be made beneath the location with a power auger. This is a quick process that will cause some disruption, but should not be overwhelmingly noisy or disruptive.
Steel Rod Insertion
Once holes have been bored in the appropriate places around your property, your contractors will drill small holes into the exposed foundation. These holes will go through the foundation entirely to allow steel anchor rods to be driven through them and into the earth below. These holes will be just one inch in diameter.
They are much smaller than those needed for other wall repair methods. As such, they are much preferred by many homeowners. Once the steel rods have been driven into the ground, they will be fed through until the edge is visible in the exterior pit.
Connecting Rods to the Anchors
Once the steel rods have been threaded through to the hole that has been dug for the earth anchor, they will be threaded into the center of the anchor. When this is in place, a nut will be screwed onto the rod to keep the anchor and rod firmly attached to each other. Each of these parts is made of galvanized steel to prevent rust and corrosion.
Once they are secured, the anchors and rods will be buried. The removed earth and sod will be carefully replaced to ensure a seamless finish in your yard. Once the sod has had some time to heal, you should not be able to see where the holes were bored.
Mounting the Anchors
Once the earth anchors have been connected to the steel rods and buried, our team will mount the channel anchor onto the foundation walls. These steel channels will be fitted over the protruding steel rods so that they can be attached and tightened.
Like the earth anchors and rods, these channels are galvanized and have a rust-resistant zinc coating to ensure that they resist corrosion and stay looking clean for decades to come. All SettleStop channel anchors come with a 25-year warranty.
Securing the Anchors to the Floor
Once mounted, each channel anchor will extend vertically down to the concrete slab flooring. The position of the channels will be secured by bolting the brackets to the floor with two heavy-duty coated steel bolts. This will hold the channel anchors in place and allow them to provide the necessary pressure to stabilize and straighten a wall. Tightening the nuts on the steel rods that pass through each channel anchor is what provides the necessary pressure, however, and the amount of pressure can be tailored to the needs of your home.
Any professional should ensure that they leave your home as they found it (minus the damage), but we at AFS Foundation & Waterproofing specialists take pride in leaving every home clean, tidy, and free of damage. We have a thorough cleanup process in place to ensure all clients are satisfied with the results.
Just as we replace the earth and sod outside once the earth anchors are placed, secured, and connected, we will remove debris and cover excavation sites inside your home before cleaning up. This means you can kick back and relax, safe in the knowledge that you do not need to do anything.
Tightening the Anchors
One of the best things about SettleStop channel wall anchors is that they can be used to straighten damaged and bowing walls, as well as prevent them from deviating further from their intended placement. This makes them an all-around solution that addresses the immediate danger while providing a long-term solution.
The straightening process must be undertaken slowly to prevent further damage, cracking, or outward buckling, but the process is simple. Simply as a professional to attend your home every year or two to assess the state of your walls and make appropriate adjustments. Over time, this will straighten your walls and improve the appearance and value of your home.
This is a complex and lengthy process that requires the involvement of a professional who knows just what they are doing. Making sure that you get the right advice and help is crucial to ensuring that you get the right results.
Expert Repair From AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists
If you have spotted signs of damage, buckling, or bowing in your foundation walls, you should make calling the team here at AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists your main priority. We have been helping homeowners to restore their properties to full health since 2000, so you can trust it when we say that we know a thing or two about foundation repair in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Mobile, Alabama, and Nashville, Chattanooga, or Knoxville, Tennessee.
Whatever the damage in your home looks like, the repair process starts with a free inspection appointment undertaken by a certified professional. Our team members will be happy to help you set a time and date that suits you and will send a certified technician to assess the damaged walls fully. Once they have done so, they will talk you through the issues at work and provide you with a written estimate for all associated costs. This should allow you to make an educated choice about what is best for your home.