Bowed Basement Walls and How to Fix Them
As a foundation repair contractor, one issue that we see frequently is bowed basement walls. When a basement wall begins to bow, it causes a horizontal crack that goes down the length of the wall and usually has stair step cracks near the corners. The purpose of this blog is to discuss what causes basement walls to bow in the first place and our solution to fix bowed basement walls.
What Causes Basement Walls to Bow?
There are several factors that cause this problem. In most parts of the midwest, our weather patterns consist of cold winters and warm summers. During winter time, the soil directly up against the outside of your foundation wall goes through a freezing and thawing pattern. When the weather warms up, soil gets soaked with rain and then dries out. Because of these patterns, soil is constantly expanding and contracting. This process puts a lot of pressure on foundations. The way a wall is constructed also has an impact. If a foundation has weak areas or wasn’t built to current building codes, it may be susceptible to issues later on. Large tree roots nearby can put pressure on a basement wall. A settling patio, stoop, or concrete steps can also cause pressure on a basement wall. Gutters that are clogged and spilling over exasperate the problem even more.
How to Fix Bowed Basement Walls
At Pioneer, we utilize carbon fiber technology from Fortress Stabilization. Fortress manufactures carbon fiber straps that adhere to the basement wall with epoxy. They are applied to the wall vertically. The top and bottom of the straps are anchored down to prevent any further movement. This provides a solution that is stronger than the original wall and it is stronger than steel. Let us explain how the product works.
The Fortress System
Installing carbon on a wall and making it look good is easy. Having it perform well, however, is an entirely different matter. The forces that cause walls to bow in the first place will most likely return. The difference between a carbon reinforcement system that works and a system that may fail is a multifaceted set of controllable variables. Fortress tests each feature of their system to address the external forces that will continue to work against the basement wall.
Are All Carbon Fiber Products the Same?
Carbon fiber must be under tension to get the benefit. It is imperative to apply carbon straight to achieve the correct tension. Fortress cures its carbon straight and without wrinkles, making it rigid enough to lay over the mortar and small cracks, not curve into these depressions. Wrinkled carbon may not continue to hold throughout the life of the home. Over the years, a gradual increase in external pressure on non-tension carbon could cause the carbon to separate from the concrete and fail to hold the wall.
Fortress uses a unique manufacturing process to engineer the carbon wall reinforcement system so that each unit is straight. Pioneer Basement Solutions can select any product to install but we choose Fortress because their product and manufacturing process is superior to their competitors. For example, other manufacturer’s carbon fiber product consists of a basic weave pattern that does not allow the strands to remain straight. The strands can elongate and loosen over time. Thus creating the same problem all over again!
Anchored for Ultimate Strength
Anchoring wall systems at the ends are necessary to utilize the full strength of carbon. Fortress engineers each plate anchor to out-perform the home’s foundation and withstand tremendous shear forces, keeping the carbon straps in place and the basement wall safe. A rigid plate anchor and legs prevent shear forces from moving the wall.
Fortress puts over 1,000 lbs. of tension into their top anchors at the time of installation, preventing future movement. Other systems don’t provide this level of necessary tension. Like a tightly tensioned ratcheted strap, the Fortress top anchor provides the necessary tension to take up any slack and keep the wall true.
Installed with Forever in Mind
Pioneer Basement Solutions offers guarantees on our work. This means a lot when we have been in business since 1979. It means that we stand behind our work and the products that we install. Fortress Stabilization is a U.S. company and offers a lifetime guarantee on their carbon fiber straps. When we install these straps, they are a permanent solution for bowed basement walls.
For more information on bowed basement walls, click here.