Your basement and foundation walls are vital to the structural integrity of your home, so noticing widening cracks or a significant bulge, lean, or tilt can be incredibly worrying. The potential causes are many and varied, and it’s not always easy for a non-professional to figure out why these issues are forming. This is why, when you notice problems with your basement or foundation walls, you should contact professionals to discuss your options.
At this point, it may be necessary to consider wall repair or reinforcements to prevent further damage, degradation, or even wall collapse. This may sound a little dramatic, but it is a very real possibility if you leave the issue unchecked and unattended. Here at Foundation Recovery Systems, we offer a comprehensive array of products and services that can straighten and stabilize walls to make your home safe and secure once more.
No matter how far gone the wall seems to be, you can trust us to make sure that no catastrophe befalls your home. More than this, we promise we will minimize the disruption to your home and day-to-day life while we install our suggested solutions and protect your walls. Straightening and reinforcing failing walls is no easy task, but it can be done.
Wall Reinforcement Solutions
If your walls are not too bowed, that is to say, if they have shifted less than two inches, we recommend reinforcement rather than intensive straightening. Carbon fiber straps are the best options if this is what you seek. These simple straps are easy to install and incredibly durable; once they have been installed, your walls will not deviate or lean any further. However, these straps will only reinforce your walls, they cannot straighten them, which makes them perfect for walls that cannot be straightened. If you wish to straighten your walls, there are two solutions to consider.
Wall Straightening Solutions
Foundation Recovery Systems uses two main wall-straightening systems. Which we deploy depends on the type of wall you have and the exact nature of the problem. Concrete block walls, for example, are more likely to fail in the middle and slowly push inward, while poured concrete walls are more likely to fail at the top. Depending on the exact nature of the damage and the state of your walls, we will suggest one of the two straightening systems.
Wall anchors are effective, permanent solutions for bowing walls. They counteract the damage caused by excess pressure by exacting equal pressure in the opposite direction. This allows them to stabilize the wall in question, but also to straighten it over time. Wall anchors are installed through the damaged walls and secured via anchors that are embedded into competent soil around 10 feet from your home. They require some excavation to install, and as such, can be a little messy. However, this is worth it in the long run. Wall anchors offer:
- A permanent solution
- Straightening via gradual adjustment
- Minimal disruption to your basement
- Easily disguised inner plates
After installation, you should never have to think about your wall anchors again.
The IntelliBrace™ system is a patented I-Beam system that bolsters damaged walls from the inside. Installed and secured with galvanized steel brackets, these beams have incredible load-bearing capacity and do not require any excavation, interior or exterior, for installation. In fact, the most complex part of the installation is often cutting the steel beams to size. Once the beams are cut to size and secured, they can be tightened using a patented easy adjustment system that will allow you to straighten your walls over time. The benefits of this system are:
- Zero excavation
- Permanent straightening and stabilization
- Quick and easy installation
- Can be installed anywhere
The main downside is the appearance of the beams themselves. They’re not exactly dainty, of course, but they are effective. Drywall paneling will cover these beams and allow you to decorate your basement in line with the rest of your home.
Wall Straightening and Stabilization
If you notice cracks or an uneven lean to your basement walls, it’s possible they could be bowing as a result of lateral pressure. This can be caused by water in the soil, extreme weather, or a lack of appropriate drainage in your yard.
The most common causes of leaning or bowed walls are:
- Excessive Hydrostatic Pressure
If your property is dealing with more hydrostatic pressure than it is capable of withstanding, this lateral pressure can easily cause walls to lean or bow. Hydrostatic pressure is the weight and force exerted on your walls by the water in the soil around your home. Every property is affected by hydrostatic pressure to some degree, of course, but when it exceeds the expected levels, it can cause damage.
The most common causes of excessive hydrostatic pressure around a property are loose backfill soil, poor drainage, and flooding. Backfilled soil is the soil that is used to cover up your property’s foundation after construction. Though contractors try to compact this soil, it is not as dense as virgin soil and will soak up rainfall and floodwater.
- Extreme Weather
Extreme weather and natural phenomena like earthquakes can damage your property structure in a way that causes walls to tilt, bow, lean, or even collapse. The most common form of extreme weather you need to prepare for as a homeowner is flooding.
Once the structure of your property has been damaged, no matter where it begins, there is an increased risk of other parts of your property becoming weakened or damaged. For example, if flooding causes your foundation to start sinking, your walls are more likely to bow as a result of the excess pressure they face.
Yes, you can straighten leaning or bowing walls. Broadly speaking, there are two main ways of doing this. Wall anchors straighten walls by using the soil outside your home to exert equal but opposite pressure to the damaged walls. I-beam braces, by contrast, bolster the damaged walls from the inside by using steel brackets to attach a beam to the floor and ceiling before adjusting and tightening it incrementally.
- Wall Anchors
Wall anchors are one of the most versatile solutions to bowing or buckling walls. Capable of stabilizing even the most damaged of walls, gradually straightening them over time, wall anchors are long-term solutions that require professional installation in order to get the best results. They have a number of pros and cons to consider, of course.
The strengths of wall anchors lie in their durability and versatility. This solution can be installed into any property with sufficient outdoor space (the anchors must be set outside of your home, underground). They are also less noticeable from the inside of your property than other solutions. The main downsides are the cost, the need for excavation, and the fact that you do need a certain amount of outdoor space.
- Wall Braces
Wall braces, or wall beams, are a perfect solution for bowed walls in properties that have no outdoor space, or in rooms above ground level. Wall braces are installed from the inside and require no excavation. This means you save money and minimize stress while stabilizing your wall and ensuring your safety.
Wall braces are just as durable as wall anchors but have the added benefit of being suitable for properties that lack the necessary outdoor space for wall anchors. The downside is that they are far harder to disguise after installation—they go from floor to ceiling in an affected room and are rather thick.
There is very little you as an individual can do to fix a bowing or structurally unstable wall by yourself. These situations require special solutions, tools, and skills to fix. If you don’t fix them fully or you implement the wrong solution, you can make the problem worse and end up with more severe damage on your hands. If you try to implement a DIY fix, you run the risk of:
- Making the Problem Worse
Structural problems can be very delicate and complex, and as such, it is important that they are handled with skill. If you try to fix a structural issue yourself, you run the risk of making the problem much worse by implementing an unsuitable solution. Worse still, you could actually injure yourself or someone else in the process.
For example, if you install wall anchors, you will need to excavate around your home and drill through load-bearing walls. If you do this poorly, you could cause a wall to collapse, which would be very dangerous to you or anyone with you. Even if this doesn’t happen, you could weaken the wall by undertaking excessive excavation.
- Missing Co-Occurring Issues
Walls can bow for many reasons, and it is common for there to be more than one underlying cause at work. If you try to fix the issue alone, you could easily end up missing a contributing factor. This will either prevent your solution from working or undo any repair work over time, leaving you with a higher repair bill overall.
Professionals, by contrast, will take the time to ensure they have got all of the underlying causes as a matter of course. They will also be able to formulate and deploy a tailored solution that addresses all causes of damage while stabilizing the wall in question and keeping your property (and person) safe!
Other Foundation Repair Solutions
If your damaged and bowing walls are being caused by foundation issues such as subsidence, settlement, and foundation heave, we can also help with that. We offer a range of foundation correction and repair solutions, but push piers and helical piers are by far the most common.
Push piers are foundation underpinnings that use the weight of your home to push themselves down against solid bedrock or competent soil. This allows them to support the weight of your home when the soil under your foundation usually cannot.
Helical piers are foundation underpinnings that screw into the soil beneath your home’s foundation until they hit competent soil beneath the frost line. This allows for the transfer of the weight of your home from the unstable soil under your foundation onto the piers.
Sometimes the problems that are causing your walls to bow or lean have more than one root cause. In this case, we will suggest a mix of solutions that will address all of the main issues you are experiencing so as to re-stabilize your home and straighten your walls.
Why Choose Foundation Recovery Systems?
When you fear that your foundation or basement walls are beginning to weaken and bow, make sure we are your first call. Our inspection appointments are free, incredibly thorough, and come with no obligation to book repairs with us.
When our inspectors arrive, you can rely on them to complete a full and thorough examination of your basement to identify the cause of your bowing walls, the severity of the issue, and the best possible solutions for you. More than this, we understand that seeing structural instabilities in your basement is incredibly worrying. After all, structural instabilities in your home can have disastrous consequences if they are left unchecked or allowed to snowball. We know you are concerned, and it is our aim to make sure this process involves as little stress as possible for you and your family. Our foundation repair experts service homes in St. Louis, Kansas City, Moberly, Des Moines and Springfield.