Leaning, bowing, or otherwise unstable walls in your basement are never a good sign. In fact, nothing is sure to make a homeowner’s heart sink quite like those telltale stair-step cracks and pools of water that precede a bowing wall. Knowing how to repair such damage can be tricky, not just because there are so many potential causes, but because limited yard space, sub-standard soil, and other blockages can make certain solutions unsuitable. Thankfully, the IntelliBrace™ System is versatile, effective, and adaptable to every home.
What is the IntelliBrace™ System and How Does it Work?
The IntelliBrace™ system is a patented I-Beam system that can be used to stabilize bowing, leaning, or otherwise unstable walls in your home with very little mess, fuss, or stress. I-beams, as a whole, work by running from a basement floor to its ceiling, providing consistent support to walls that are succumbing to pressure. In this sense, I-beams, and the IntelliBrace™ system, in particular, are traditional methods of dealing with bowed or leaning basement walls.
Unlike traditional steel beams or generic I-beams, the IntelliBrace™ system has been designed to straighten walls over time as well as simply bolstering them. It does this by applying appropriate pressure to a bowing wall in the opposite direction of its current lean. This not only prevents further deviation but can slowly return the wall to its original position, though it does not address the underlying causes of bowing.
IntelliBrace™ Wall Repair System
Your basement walls could be leaning, bowing, or crumbling for a number of reasons. Lateral pressure due to water in the soil around your home and a damaged foundation are just two potential causes. Worse still, bowing basement walls can cause a whole host of other problems. This is why it’s best to get an expert opinion if your basement walls are bowing.
Other potential causes of bowing or leaning basement walls include, but are not limited to:
- Damaged Support Joists
If joists supporting the floor above your basement are damaged, your basement walls can experience disproportionate pressure from above. While this is more likely to cause cracks, it can also cause walls to start leaning or buckling. Support joists can become damaged in a number of ways, but the most common causes of joist damage are dampness, rot, and excessive pressure (usually as a result of pre-existing structural damage in the home.
Dampness and humidity are common culprits when it comes to joist damage because of the way they can cause exposed wood to rot. Rotting wood becomes soft, of course, and will quickly start to bend or even simply crumble. It is also very tempting for pests like termites and also for certain species of mold (which will attract other pests). So while dampness can cause damage to support joists, it is also a wider problem that should be addressed quickly.
- Foundation Subsidence and Settlement
When a property foundation begins to sink, it causes many issues, but the uneven nature of this subsidence can also make walls bow. This is because of the extreme pressure that subsidence can place on specific parts of your home. Droughts, for example, can cause the soil under your home to dry out and shrink, while flooding may cause it to become saturated and swell. Some soils react more dramatically to moisture than others. Clay-based soil, for example, can shrink and grow massively.
When these soils react to moisture they can put pressure on your property either as a result of expansion or through the removal of support during shrinking. This not only undermines the stability of your home, but it will allow water into your foundation and basement as a result of cracks forming in your walls and flooring.
There’s very little you can do to fix leaning or bowing basement walls alone. These kinds of structural repairs require special tools and knowledge to complete properly. The best thing you can do is call a professional, as they will be able to advise you as to the best possible solution for your bowed walls. The most common solutions for bowed or unstable walls are:
- Carbon Fiber Reinforcement
Carbon fiber reinforcement strips are one of the least intrusive solutions for minor wall deviation and leaning. If your walls have deviated by less than two inches, this could be the solution for you (of course, you should always consult a professional first). This method of wall support has many benefits and a few weaknesses to consider before you make any decisions, of course. The biggest weakness is the fact that carbon fiber reinforcement can only be used on walls with minor damage.
However, when they are appropriate, carbon fiber wall reinforcements are durable, easy to install, cost-effective, and very efficient. They will halt the deviation of a bowing wall when applied properly, though they will not be able to straighten the wall. One benefit that can seem frivolous, but that many homeowners find attractive, is how easy they are to disguise after installation.
- Wall Anchors
Wall anchors are the most invasive of all solutions and require excavation both inside and outside your property. They also require a certain amount of yard space and drilling into your basement walls. This makes them a messy and rather costly solution that many homeowners consider a last resort. Despite this, they have many benefits for those who have serious damage to walls in their home.
The most obvious benefit is the fact that they make even badly damaged walls safe again and remove the chance of collapse. Unlike wall braces, however, they do this in a relatively easy-to-disguise way that also allows for adjustment. This means they can also straighten the wall over time, improving its look as well as its condition.
- I-Beam Reinforcement
Reinforcement beams are less invasive than wall anchors, more appropriate for badly damaged walls than carbon fiber reinforcement, but by far the hardest solution to disguise. However, they are a fantastic option for stabilizing and straightening walls that have severely deviated from their intended positioning while still making them safe.
They have the added benefit of requiring no excavation during installation. This means they can be installed into rooms that are above ground as well as being of use in properties that have little or no outdoor space in which to set wall anchors. As such, they are hugely beneficial for those who live in cities—though they are undeniably hard on a property’s decor. Each of these systems has its own advantages, drawbacks, and potential applications, so be sure to do thorough research before making your choice.
It can be tempting to try to save money by doing it yourself; however, there are many risks to this approach, especially when it comes to structural repairs. After all, if you do not install a solution correctly, you could end up letting the issue snowball until it causes serious damage to your property or even your person! There are many reasons to hire a professional, but the most pressing are:
Trying to tackle a bowing wall alone can be tempting for DIY enthusiasts, but we would recommend that you do not even try to install wall beams or anchors yourself. First and foremost, these are special tasks that a professional is far more equipped to handle while ensuring that your property is safe and secure going forward.
If you try to do this alone, you face two main risks: risk to yourself and risk to your home. You could end up being injured in this process as a result of a number of things. Firstly, bowing walls are unstable. If you do anything that disturbs them, they could collapse (which is potentially fatal). Even if you do install the solution successfully, unless you do it properly, there could be serious repercussions.
Professionals have access to the best materials and tools for the job, so you can be sure the work is going to be of the highest quality when you hire an expert. After all, some of the best tools and products are not available over the counter in hardware stores, and few homeowners have the same catalog of tools as a professional.
While it may seem like you are saving money by attempting a DIY fix, this is simply not true. The quality that a professional service guarantees also ensures a certain level of durability and efficiency that makes the solution a permanent one. As such, you save huge amounts of time and money on repairs, adjustments, and replacements in the long run.
Why Choose the IntelliBrace™ System?
The IntelliBrace™ system has a number of benefits that other methods of wall reinforcement do not. First and foremost, they are more durable than the average, generic I-beam. Made from zinc-coated, galvanized steel, IntelliBrace™ beams are more resistant to rust and corrosion and retain their aesthetic integrity over time. Secondly, they can be deployed to reinforce and correct walls that are too damaged for carbon fiber strap reinforcement. Finally, the IntelliBrace™ system can be installed in almost any space. Unlike wall anchors, which require access to load-bearing soil outside of your home, they do not require excavation for installation. The benefits of choosing an IntelliBrace™ system are:
- Sleek and pleasing aesthetic
- No-mess installation
- No excavation required
The only real downside is that they are more visible than carbon fiber straps. However, simple drywall paneling will disguise the beams very easily and leave you with a smooth surface for decoration.
Installing the IntelliBrace™ System
Installing the IntelliBrace™ system is a breeze, and thanks to the patented tightening system, adjustments are straightforward, too. In fact, there are really only three steps to installing an IntelliBrace™ system:
Adjusting the Braces
The heavy-duty galvanized steel braces must be cut to suit your home. This makes the IntelliBrace™ system uniquely customizable but is also the most labor-intensive part of the job. Once the steel beams have been cut to the appropriate height, they can be installed.
Your IntelliBrace™ system will be anchored to the wall via brackets, which are secured to your basement’s floor and the floor joists at the top of your wall. These specially designed brackets will also hold the bolts for adjusting and tightening the beams over time.
Installing the IntelliBraces™
In order to work properly, each IntelliBrace™ must be perfectly level and vertical; your technician should use a level to ensure they are perfectly plumb before attaching them to the floor and tightened.
Because they span the entire height of the wall, IntelliBraces™ are suitable for straightening walls that are bulging in the middle or beginning to lean at the top or the bottom. Better yet, you can adjust them yourself over time to gradually straighten the walls in question as well as restore their structural integrity in the meantime.
Let Foundation Recovery Systems Install Your IntelliBraces™
Foundation Recovery Systems has been keeping the homes of Missouri in good repair since 1993. We’re proud to serve throughout central Missouri and eastern Kansas, including Kansas City, St. Louis, Moberly, Des Moines and Springfield. We pride ourselves on our award-winning customer service, high-quality products, and stellar results. That’s why we offer free consultation appointments, flexible financing, and transferable warranties and guarantees on all of our repairs.