Carbon Fiber can be a great, inexpensive solution to stop a bowing wall. 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. Every basement wall is under pressure, mostly from dirt and rock combined with the constant freeze and thaw cycles. When a new foundation is built or poured, the surrounding area is back filled 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. The seasonal freeze and thaw cycle will expand and contract the soil at different depths moving pressures up and down your foundation. 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. Foundation cracks are like rust on a car, it will not stop.
Doing Carbon Fiber the Right Way
Properly installed carbon fiber straps will create a repair stronger than steel beams. Strengthening your foundation to withstand 50,000 psi. Most companies that install carbon fiber and do it yourself carbon fiber kits have straps that 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 distributes the pressure across the wall, but ends at the end of the repair. This means once the pressure at the end of the repair reaches 550 psi, your wall will collapse! Turning a $500 repair into a $50,000+ repair.
At Epp Concrete, our bowing wall repair is very different. We begin our carbon fiber installation at the sill plate of your house, above your foundation. The end of our installation is below the floor of your basement. By installing fiber our way, your foundation receives the complete benefit of the strength of the 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. In between, 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.