Damaged, leaning, or buckling basement walls are a serious sign of damage to the structure of your home and even your property’s foundation. For homeowners in and around Huntsville, AL, this is a more common issue than many people expect. This is partly because of the humid and changeable climate, but it is also because of the amount of expansive, clay-based soils that can be found in this area.
Because the basement walls in any property are found below ground level, they are subject to hydrostatic pressure. Of course, they are designed to withstand this (to a certain extent), but when extreme weather or poor drainage lead to soil saturation, its threshold for pressure can be exceeded quite easily. When this happens, the walls may start to deviate and buckle. If you catch this issue early, then carbon fiber basement wall repair and reinforcement could well be the best answer.
What is Carbon Fiber Basement Wall Repair?
Carbon fiber basement wall repair is a cost effective, minimally disruptive, easy-to-disguise repair tool that prevents damaged walls from further deviating, bowing, leaning, or collapsing over time. This process involves using thin strips of carbon fiber material and epoxy resin to effectively halt the movement of walls that are bowing as a result of excessive pressure or a lack of support.
This process works because of the immense strength and tear resistance of carbon fiber when compared to its size and weight. When affixed with epoxy resin, they become stronger still. So, while you may think it unlikely that a few straps of carbon fiber can prevent a wall from bowing, it is true! Of course, there are several limitations to consider alongside the benefits of this material.
The benefits of carbon fiber basement wall repair are many. This is a relatively cheap and quick process, for example, and the results are quite easy to disguise once the straps have been fully installed. They are waterproof, tear and puncture resistant, and can withstand immense amounts of pressure, making them the best choice for walls that have suffered minor damage.
Because of their dainty size, carbon fiber straps can also be installed into almost any space. This makes them perfect for walls that are found in hard-to-reach areas. This also makes carbon fiber wall repair and reinforcement one of the most accessible repair options on the market today. Of course, there are some drawbacks and limitations to this solution.
The most serious limitation when it comes to the implementation of carbon fiber basement wall repair is the fact that it cannot be used on walls that have deviated by more than two inches. It is also worth considering the fact that carbon fiber straps cannot straighten a damaged wall. These issues are some of the most cited when homeowners or professionals choose to forego carbon fiber reinforcement in favor of another solution.
Other, less commonly discussed limitations include the need to have access to the whole wall to install carbon fiber straps. If you have a finished basement, then this will mean moving anything that obstructs the wall at any point, including rolling back carpets and removing drywall. Finally, if the concrete that makes up the wall is too flawed, soft, or damaged, the carbon fiber straps may be unable to adhere properly.
Anchors and Beams: Alternate Solutions
If your wall has deviated by more than two inches, then carbon fiber repair will not be possible. Thankfully, there are other options, of course, when it comes to repairing and straightening damaged basement walls. The main alternatives to carbon fiber repair and reinforcement are wall anchors and wall beams. Each of these solutions has its own set of strengths and limitations, of course. That is why you should contact a professional to discuss your property’s needs as soon as possible.
Wall Anchors: Pros and Cons
Wall anchors are a good middle ground between carbon fiber reinforcement and wall beams when it comes to cost and visibility. Made up of an exterior earth anchor and a wall plate or channel, wall anchors come in several forms, including helical, plate, and channel anchors. Whatever form is in use, however, the principle is the same: the wall plate generates force with the help of the earth anchor and exerts opposing pressure to the walls. This can prevent further deviation but also makes it possible to straighten damaged walls over time.
The strength of this repair method is its ability to deal with walls in almost any condition, at almost any level of bowing or leaning. It’s also a fact that it can be used to rectify the deviation over time. Likewise, wall anchors are fairly easy to disguise and are cost-effective. Finally, the SettleStop anchors that we at AFS use come with a lifetime warranty!
The limitations of this repair method are few, but they are important. First, you need viable exterior space around ten feet from the damaged walls. This means that those who do not have ample outdoor space will find it hard to accommodate wall anchors. Also, because anchors must be drilled through your foundation, you may find that there is some level of water intrusion. This can be mitigated by sealing the holes, but this may require attention in the future.
Wall Beams: Pros and Cons
Steel beams are somewhat of a last resort when it comes to repairing damaged or bowing basement walls. That is because they can be fitted into almost any space and home. This repair method does what it sounds like: large steel beams are fitted to your property’s floor and ceiling and are used to brace a damaged wall. This prevents deviation using the weight of your property’s structure and can be used to straighten walls over time.
The biggest benefit to this repair process is the fact that no excavation or exterior space is required. As such, wall beams are by far the most versatile solution for seriously damaged walls. This is also a minimally invasive process that should not disrupt your home too much. For this reason, there is also a chance that wall beams will provide a cheaper solution than wall anchors.
The limitations of this product are few, but there are some drawbacks. The biggest, quite literally, is the size of the steel beams used. There is simply no getting around the size of the beams that are used to undertake this process. They are bulky and hard to disguise!
How is Carbon Fiber Basement Wall Repair Installed?
In most cases where a basement wall has only just started to deviate, carbon fiber wall repair will be the likely suggestion from any professional you hire. This is partly because of the lower cost but also because it is preferable to avoid drilling holes in your property’s foundation as much as possible. Every property is different, of course, but you can expect your carbon fiber basement wall repair process to go something like this:
Every repair process starts with careful planning and consideration of the issues at hand. When you hire AFS Foundation & Waterproofing specialists, this part of the process will have been partially undertaken during your free inspection appointment; so, when the contractors arrive, they should be ready to start. The planning stage is when the number of straps needed will be calculated along with their placement.
Preparing a space for carbon fiber strap installation can either be quite easy or lengthy. It depends on what the space is used for. If your basement is mostly just a storage room, then it will mean removing all obstructions from on and around the damaged walls and roughing the surface to allow the straps to adhere properly. If your basement is fully finished, then this can be a lengthy process that involves lifting drywall and carpets or even turning off the electrical power and removing certain appliances.
Once the surface of a wall has been properly prepared, the carbon fiber straps will be carefully placed. All straps will be placed with a light adhesive to keep them in position so that the contractors can get a sense of whether the wall is being given adequate support before the straps are properly fixed into place. This allows for some on-the-spot adjustments where necessary.
Once the straps are in their final position, epoxy resin will be used to secure the straps in place properly. Once this resin sets, the straps will be permanently set in place. Resin is waterproof, heat-resistant, and incredibly hard wearing, meaning that it will strengthen the carbon fiber as it adheres to the wall.
Once the straps have been firmly set in place by the resin and it has fully cured, any items that were removed to allow for repairs can be put back into place. While you can decorate over carbon fiber straps, we do recommend that you wait for a few days before you put wallpaper or paint over the installation site. This is just a precaution, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.
So, as you can see, this is a straightforward process that can be undertaken quickly when you hire skilled and knowledgeable professionals to deal with your wall damage. Of course, finding the right professionals is not always easy. Thankfully, this is where we come in!
Carbon Fiber Basement Wall Repair
If you have started to notice a lean, tilt, or buckling in some of your basement walls, then there are several issues that could be at work. Broadly speaking, however, the most common causes of bowing walls in any basement are hydrostatic pressure and foundation damage.
Hydrostatic pressure is a natural phenomenon caused by the weight of the water in the soil around a property. All homes are subject to hydrostatic pressure, and all homes are designed to withstand it. Of course, even the best designed property has a threshold for pressure. When hydrostatic pressure becomes too great for a home, it can cause bowing walls. This happens because of how it exerts lateral pressure.
Most basement walls are made of concrete, and concrete has a low tensile strength when compared to its compressive strength. Hydrostatic pressure tests its tensile strength by exerting lateral pressure, which is the main cause of a bowing wall. Many things can increase hydrostatic pressure around a home including poor drainage, heavy rainfall, underground water sources, and localized flooding.
Foundation Damage and Movement
Alternatively, bowing walls can be caused by foundation damage and movement. When this happens, it occurs because of the direct connection between basement walls and a property’s foundation. Any sinking, lateral movement, or fragmentation in the foundation can lead to an excess of pressure or a lack of support to the basement walls. This will then cause bowing, leaning, or buckling over time. Foundation movement and damage are also highly influenced by soil saturation.
Sudden flooding, heavy storms, or poor perimeter drainage can all contribute to foundation movement by making the soil unstable, marshy, or weak. In the cases of serious and dramatic flooding (for example, during a storm surge), the force of water hitting a home can also cause foundation movement. Any movement in your property’s structure poses a risk of cracking, fragmentation, and destabilization over time.
Assuming your property’s walls were properly designed and well-built with high-quality materials, bowing walls should be entirely avoidable (barring a sudden natural disaster like a serious flood). So, yes, there are things that you can do to prevent bowing walls in your home.
While it may seem trite to say this, ensuring that your property has a robust and consistent maintenance schedule really is key to ensuring that your home stays in the best condition possible. Highly crucial to the structure of your home is maintaining your property’s moisture management appliances and features. Soil saturation and flooding are the most key factors in many structural issues.
Keeping your roof gutters free from debris, your sump pump in good working order, and your perimeter drains in good repair may seem like insignificant things, but it can make all the difference. You see, except for some serious occurrences, bowing walls are a sign of cumulative damage and instability. This means that consistent protection and maintenance are the key to prevention in most cases.
Of course, if you want to take it one step further, you can also improve your property’s drainage and moisture management capabilities. This can be as big as having new interior drains installed inside your basement and having perimeter drainage installed outside your home or as small as investing in extended downspouts and discharge lines for your gutters and sump pump systems. The goal is to ensure that as little water as possible gathers by your home’s perimeter.
Believe it or not, you can also protect your home by looking at the health and layout of your yard. The grading of your yard and the way you plant your garden can have an impact. Planting the right mix of flowers, bushes, trees, and grasses will create a complex root network that prevents the soil from moving too drastically. This also increases its capacity to absorb and utilize moisture. A slight change like that can have a significant impact when it comes to preventing bowing walls in and around your home.
Yes, you can fix bowing or leaning basement walls, but you cannot do it alone. These are structural repairs that require a professional eye and an experienced hand to get the best results for your home and future. Of course, we understand the desire to save money and time by pursuing DIY, but when it comes to structural repairs, the risks are too high!
The Cost of DIY
DIY repairs often seem like a good idea before they begin; saving money is imperative these days. The problem is that structural repairs are notorious for growing arms and legs once they have started. From finding unexpected secondary damage to realizing that what you can see is merely the beginning of the problems, there are several things that can make costs rise unexpectedly. Furthermore, you will need to buy the products and tools needed for the repair process; this is not cheap.
So, as you can see, the cost of DIY can be huge, even before you consider the likelihood of accidental damage to your home and belongings. More worryingly, there is the chance that you will injure yourself or anyone helping you with the equipment that is needed to roughen the surface of the walls in your basement. If this happens, then the cost of your DIY repairs will go well beyond the bottom line; this equipment is genuinely dangerous in the wrong hands. Finally, there is the small chance that a severely damaged wall will collapse if you handle the repairs improperly. As well as being immediately dangerous to anyone in the vicinity, this can cause a huge amount of damage to your home by pulling down attached flooring and walls.
The Benefits of Professional Repair
Compare the stress, cost, and mess that DIY wall repair can entail, and you will see that professional repairs have many benefits to offer to the savvy homeowner. Not only do professionals have all the tools they need to hand, but also, they can get the best products and materials at industry prices. Better yet, they have the experience to put all of this to effective use and react to unexpected issues quickly and effectively. This is something that no amount of money can buy. Only years of experience and hundreds of repairs can impart this level of skill and confidence.
Finally, professionals offer a better result, often at a comparable price, and they do so with far less mess, stress, and frustration for you as a homeowner. What’s better is that professional firms can provide you with guarantees and support should issues arise after the repairs are completed. This is unusual, of course, but it is good to know that support is available if it is needed. This peace of mind is priceless, why don’t you let the team here at AFS Foundation & Waterproofing specialists deal with your bowing walls!
Expert Wall Repair from AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists
If you have noticed problem signs of damage, movement, and instability in your property’s basement walls, then it is time to place a call to AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists. Our team has been helping property owners to restore their properties to full health since 2000 and has built our company a reputation for excellence that truly shines. We are happy to serve Birmingham, AL, Huntsville, AL, Mobile, AL, Nashville, TN, Chattanooga, TN, and Knoxville, TN.
If you want to know what we can do to help you fix your damaged walls, then all you need to do is call us directly; or, book your free inspection appointment online. We will send a certified structural repair specialist to your home to assess the damage and provide you with a written estimate of the cost of repairs (without obligation). If you decide to proceed with our suggested work, then you can expect the repair process to be quick, efficient, and minimally disruptive.