When are foundation walls that bow and sag beyond repair damaged?
A damaged foundation can be very alarming to homeowners, especially when a wall arches, bends, or appears to be in danger of collapsing.
Given the appearance of foundation walls, many homeowners assume that the only safe and effective solution for their home is to remove the damaged wall and replace it with a new one. However, even in extreme cases, a homeowner may have several options for repairing their foundation, including options that do not include replacement of the foundation.
The case against the foundation replacement
Generally speaking, a foundation replacement is a long, expensive, and invasive process for your home. First, the original foundation will need to be completely excavated to expose the foundation walls. Then it will be necessary to “lift” the house with temporary supports, while removing the floor slab and foundation walls. New foundations are built, the floor is poured, and then finally an attempt can be made to restore the landscape.
The worst part of this problem is that with all this time, interruptions, and costs, you’ve never really addressed the problem that caused the damage in the first place, which is the soils around your foundation. Without solving this problem, it is very possible that your new base will be damaged by the same problems that damaged the first one.
Four Foundation Wall Repair Solutions
The good news is this: If the wall is still standing, there is an excellent chance that it can be repaired, without needing to be replaced. Repair options are as follows:
Carbon Fiber Strips – If your foundation walls are bulging in the middle and are not sloping along the top or moving inward along the bottom, this may be the best solution for your home . These carbon fiber cloth strips can be epoxy bonded along the foundation wall quickly and easily by a foundation contractor. They are many times stronger than steel, can be installed year-round, and are ideal for reinforcing arched foundation walls.
One of the main advantages of carbon fiber strips is their low profile design. If you plan to paint or finish your basement after repairing the walls, this is a reliable and inexpensive solution for preparing the walls for wall paneling and studs.
Foundation Wall Anchors – If you have access to the exterior of your home and would like the opportunity to straighten your foundation walls to their original, straight position, this is the solution you are looking for. Wall anchors are a three-piece system, including a wall plate that mounts to the visible side of the basement wall, a wall anchor that sits on the floor, and a steel rod that connects the plate to the anchorage. The wall plate holds the foundation wall and the anchor sits in the ground to hold it in place. Each wall plate is then squeezed onto the connecting rod, pressing against the base wall to stop all inward movement.
Over time, this option can be used not only to reinforce the foundation wall, but also to gradually straighten the wall to its original position. They can also be painted over or used in conjunction with the basement finish as the thin wall plate can easily have studs and wall panels installed over them. And, unlike carbon fiber strip installations, wall anchors can be used to reinforce walls that show signs of leaning along the top or sliding inward along the bottom.
I-Beam Systems – If you don’t have access to the exterior of your home, but need to repair a wall that slopes at the top or slides inward at the bottom, this is the system you are looking for. This system consists of I-shaped steel beams that span the distance between the concrete floor and the floor joists along the top of the basement. These steel braces are installed at intervals along the walls, stopping all inward movement.
Most I-beam systems will only stop the movement of the walls, although a few can be adjusted to straighten the walls as well. Also, these systems are the least compatible with a finished basement, as they will take up space along the walls. The best systems are designed with corrosion resistant galvanized steel, so they don’t become an eyesore over the years.
Sister Shotcrete Walls – If the wall is caving in, collapsing, or showing extreme damage, there is still a good chance that base replacement is not yet necessary. Instead, a sister wall can be built in front of the original wall, using a shotcrete known in the industry as shotcrete. This sister wall works best when combined with a wall anchor system, which will help ensure that the new wall does not fall apart from the pressure that damaged the original wall as well.
This system installs year-round and is much faster than a foundation replacement would be, without disrupting the landscape. It’s cheaper, easier, and you can count on a good contractor to provide a warranty on the finished installation.
Hiring a Professional Foundation Contractor in California
If you plan to sell your home in the future, being able to tell the prospective buyer that your foundation was repaired by a reputable contractor can be an important selling point for your home. If that contractor is still in business and your facility includes a transferable written warranty, this will also provide a sales advantage.