If your home has suffered damage as a result of flooding, dampness, hydrostatic pressure, or foundational shift, it can be hard to know what the best course of action is, especially if you have a poured concrete or concrete block foundation. In cases of extreme structural damage, wall anchors can effectively stabilize and help straighten walls, ensuring that your home remains structurally sound and safe for you and your family.
When Is It Time to Consider Installing Wall Anchors?
Wall anchors are serious, specialist tools designed to combat severe damage to the structural integrity of a property. Ideally, you should never need to install wall anchors if you have a strong foundation and good waterproofing in your basement. Wall anchors are most commonly used when structural damage is causing walls to bow. Bowed walls are a symptom of serious structural issues, but they can also cause further damage by letting in water. In short, this is an issue that is only going to get worse, and it can actually end in the collapse of certain sections of a property if left unaddressed.
If you see any of the following signs, you should contact a foundation repair specialist to assess your walls for bowing:
- Horizontal cracks (in block walls) that sit around 0.5 to 0.75 inches from the floor
- Diagonal cracks (in poured concrete walls), typically stemming from corners to the top of the wall
- Water pooling in your basement coving (a sign that hydrostatic pressure may be an issue too)
Even if your walls are beginning to bow, an expert may suggest other solutions that are more suited to your home, especially if the damage is not yet extensive.
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What Other Options Are There?
There are many other options for homes that are showing signs of minor structural damage. The IntelliBrace™ system is one that we at Foundation Recovery Systems often recommend to homeowners for whom wall anchors are unsuitable. Likewise, if the damage is still relatively minor, carbon fiber wall reinforcement may be a more suitable and affordable solution. In order to understand what will be best for your home, however, we will need to make a full assessment of the current damage.
The Benefits of a Wall Anchor System
Of course, it would be preferable to never need any repairs to your basement, foundation, or walls, but if you do, wall anchors are one of the best options for severely damaged walls.
- Stronger Than Carbon Fiber Reinforcement
Carbon fiber reinforcement straps may be a good solution for walls that have only started to crack and bow, but if you have extensive damage to your walls and foundation, this option really isn’t for you. Wall anchors may be more expensive and noticeable than carbon fiber straps, but they are also extremely strong. This means they can correct much more advanced damage.
Once they have been properly installed and secured, wall anchors are incredibly tough. In fact, you should not need to replace them at all unless something causes them to slip or further damage is done to your home. An earthquake or severe flood, for example, might cause wall anchors to slip or shift, but day-to-day life should be no problem at all for them.
Wall anchors are very adaptable; they can be placed exactly where you need them to ensure you get the best possible results. This makes them a uniquely customizable solution for bowed walls in your basement.
A wall anchor system not only stabilizes your home, but it could also help straighten bowing walls over time. Better still, it does so with minimal disruption to your home and yard.
There are a number of factors that could contribute to the bowing of your basement walls. In most cases, bowed walls are caused and exacerbated by a number of factors that need to be assessed and dealt with separately. The most common are:
- Excess Hydrostatic Pressure
All homes are subject to some level of hydrostatic pressure, but if an underground water source or extreme weather causes this level to rise you are likely to see cracks appearing in your basement walls. This extra pressure will, over time, cause your walls to lean and bow. There are many potential causes of a sudden increase in hydrostatic pressure around a property, but the most likely are flooding and expansive soil.
Certain soils—for example, clay-based soils—are incredibly reactive when it comes to moisture. When they are saturated they expand and when dehydrated they shrink. This can be very bad for the structure of a property. When these soils soak up water, the hydrostatic pressure exerted on your home skyrockets. This is a very common cause of bowing walls.
- A Damaged Foundation
Settlement is one foundation issue that can be particularly hard on a property’s walls. As a property sinks, after all, it rarely does so in an even fashion. This means some walls can face excess strain as a result of the process. While it is most common for these walls to crack, they can also start to bow or lean inward.
Subsidence is one foundation issue that can be particularly hard on a property’s walls. As a property sinks, after all, it rarely does so in an even fashion. This means some walls can face excess strain as a result of the process. While it is most common for these walls to crack, they can also start to bow or lean inward.
In short, yes. Bowing walls are not only a sign of structural damage, but they can cause further structural issues as well. You will recognize them by uneven leaning or bulging, especially in the middle of the wall. Bowed walls are dangerous and can lead to a number of problems, including:
- Dampness and Excessive Humidity
While this may not seem like the worst possible outcome when you have bowing walls, dampness is insidious and can quickly become dangerous to your home and health. Aside from the obvious issues of mold and mildew formation and pest attraction, dampness can damage the structure of your property quite seriously.
If you have exposed wooden supports or beams, dampness can undermine their structural integrity and cause them to start rotting. When this happens, the wood will become soft or even crumbly, losing its ability to effectively provide support to the structure of your home. As a result, you may start to see sagging floors and ceilings in your home.
The most serious outcome of bowing walls, of course, is the total collapse of a wall. As well as being incredibly costly to repair, a collapsing wall poses a real risk to the health, well-being, and even life of anyone who happens to be close by when it falls. If the wall in question is a basement wall, you also have to worry about the dirt, debris, and dampness that is likely to come in with the wall.
The collapse of a wall, especially a basement wall, is also a cause for wider concern as these are load-bearing structures. This means that when a wall collapses, there is a very real risk of the room above being impacted. At best, the walls and floor above will be damaged; at worst, they too may collapse or sink.
There are a number of solutions for bowing walls in your home, and the best solution depends on the severity of the problem. Of course, no matter what solution is best, you should ensure it is installed by a professional who can undertake the work quickly and efficiently.
- Carbon Fiber Wall Reinforcement
Carbon fiber wall strips are easy to install and cost-effective, but they can only be used on walls that have bowed less than two inches. Despite this, they are incredibly useful for walls that have minor damage, as they will prevent further deviation and bolster the wall effectively. Despite being very slim, these straps are incredibly strong and durable.
Carbon fiber reinforcement is a non-invasive, long-term solution that is very easy to disguise. This makes it an incredibly popular option for many homeowners. It can be applied in almost any setting, takes up no space, and will be entirely set within a day (though the actual installation process will take only a few hours, in most cases).
- Wall Anchors
Wall anchors are heavy-duty wall straightening solutions and can correct even the most severely bowed walls. Installation is a little more intrusive and costly than carbon fiber reinforcement and wall beams. This is because of the amount of excavation required. In order to work properly, wall anchors must be set in the soil outside a property.
Once anchored into the soil, the internal plates have to be secured to the damaged wall before a steel rod can be secured and tightened. This can be a daunting process, but the results are undeniable; wall anchors stabilize bowing walls and can even help straighten them out safely over time. Wall anchors are also a permanent solution, so while the cost is not inconsiderable, you should never have to worry about those walls again.
Installing Your Wall Anchors
Installing wall anchors is not overly complicated, but it does need to be done with precision and care. You see, wall anchors are made up of three main parts: the plate, the connecting rod, and the earth anchor.
Ensuring that the plate and anchor are in precisely the right position is absolutely key. Once your technician has identified the best place to put each anchor, however, the process is fairly quick and easy.
First, a small hole will be drilled into the damaged wall and a corresponding hole will be dug in your yard about 10 feet away. A galvanized steel rod will then be driven into the wall and through the soil to the hole where a steel anchor will be placed and connected to the rod. On the inside of your basement wall, a steel plate will be connected to the other end of the rod before the hole in your yard is backfilled and the system is tightened. This tightening process is undertaken via a nut placed on the outside of the internal steel plate. As the anchor is screwed into place, the bowed wall will begin to straighten. It is common for a bowed wall to require several anchors in order to achieve successful repositioning.
Once the anchors have been safely installed and set, you can opt to have special wall anchor covers put in place. These will disguise the steel plates on the inside of your walls and protect the nuts from grime and dust, making adjustments a breeze should it ever be necessary.
Why You Should Choose Foundation Recovery Systems
As professional and passionate foundation repair specialists, we are dedicated to offering the best possible service. We use only the best tools and materials, and we take great care to ensure that our team members are highly trained and knowledgeable in all the products that we use. It is our policy to explain every choice and action that we make when repairing damage to a basement or load-bearing wall.
Of course, we also do our very best to ensure you never have to call us again. That’s why we take great care at every stage in a job. We always begin with a thorough inspection and assessment of the space in question, and we offer free no-obligation consultation appointments to ensure that everyone who might need our help feels secure in booking with us. Once our team has assessed your basement, they will tell you whether they feel wall anchors are the best choice for you or suggest a different solution.