Carbon fiber can be a great, inexpensive solution to fix a bowing wall in your basement. However, proper installation is critical in the success or failure of the carbon fiber strap.
Before we discuss proper carbon fiber installation, let’s talk about why a basement wall will bow.
Reason #1: Every basement wall is under pressure, mostly from dirt and rock combined with the constant freeze and thaw cycles.
Reason #2: When a new foundation is built or poured, the excavated area around the foundation is backfilled, and begins to settle. When it rains, the ground surrounding your foundation becomes saturated and gets heavier. This compacts the soil and adds horizontal pressure to your basement walls.
Reason #3: Additionally, the seasonal freeze and thaw cycle will expand and contract the soil at different depths moving your foundation up and down and putting added pressure on your basement walls.
Over time, this inward pressure builds up to the point where it will crack your foundation. Typically, we see the first cracks appear near the frost line. These cracks will start to appear with as little as 550 pounds of pressure. If you have a concrete driveway or patio, this will add tremendous pressure to the soil and can accelerate the cracking of your foundation walls. It is important to note, that a crack in your foundation is only a sign of the external pressure, it does not “relieve” the pressure as some may have heard. Foundation cracks typically continue to grow, lengthen and widen until they are properly addressed.
DIY Carbon Fiber Wall Repairs or Hire a Professional?
Properly installed carbon fiber straps will create a repair stronger than steel beams. Strengthening your foundation to withstand 50,000 psi. However as with any amazing technology, there are inferior products and installation methods. Some companies that install carbon fiber use do-it-yourself (DIY) carbon fiber kits. The straps in these kits typically do not span the entire wall, making these fixes only temporary. Short straps create a weak point at the top and bottom of the carbon fiber repair. The strap’s role is to distribute the inward pressure across the entire wall. The benefit of the strap ends right at the end of the strap.
What does this all mean? It means that once the pressure at the end of the strap reaches 550 psi, your wall will collapse! Turning a $500 repair into a $50,000+ repair. This is not a risk many homeowners are willing to take. Make sure your carbon fiber wall straps are installed by a professional and span the entire surface of the wall.
At Epp Foundation Repair, we begin our carbon fiber wall strap installation at the sill plate of your house, above your foundation. The end of our straps are below the floor of your basement. By installing fiber this way, your foundation walls benefit from the strength of carbon fiber’s 50,000 psi limit. The pressure on the outside of your foundation is equally distributed between your entire house and the full strength of your concrete slab floor. During the process, we properly repair foundation cracks by filling small cracks with high strength epoxy, and wide cracks by removing material and injecting high strength mortar. Because of these techniques, we have NEVER had a failure from our thousands of bowed wall repairs.