I’m going to break one of my ground rules, and make some assumptions about you. You’re here because you have a bowed wall in your basement or crawl space. You recognize the urgency of this, and you are actively trying to determine how to fix it. Maybe you’ve done some research on your own or you’ve had a contractor out to your home- but you can only find the “pros” to the repair options.
And you’re smart; experience has taught you that everything has its good and bad points. You’re here because you want to know what can go wrong, when a contractor comes in to fix that bowing wall.
Acculevel is a foundation repair company, and we’ve fixed thousands of bowed walls since our founding in 1996. Our primary focus in this industry is to restore strength and stability to buildings, so our customers can live comfortably and confidently in their homes.
Despite my earlier bravado, I admit one of my assumptions could be false. Maybe you aren’t familiar with the best repair options? Or maybe you’ve been given conflicting information about the options? If either case, we have a detailed review of the ways to repair bowing walls, here.
What Can Go Wrong with Carbon Fiber Straps?
If your wall is only cracking badly, or bowing less than 2 inches, carbon fiber straps are the best solution. They are the least expensive repair method, and they don’t require excavation or drilling through the foundation walls.
But in order for the straps to work, the wall needs to be in good shape. If the concrete is soft or deteriorating, the epoxy will not adhere properly and hold the strap in place. Carbon fiber straps are meant to hold the wall in place, not straighten the wall itself. If the concrete is in poor condition, deteriorating, or the blocks are breaking, you will need to have the wall repaired or rebuilt.
Straps also require access to the entire wall. Carbon fiber straps are attached at both the top and bottom. This will be inconvenient if your utilities are located in the area; you will have to have these be disconnected and moved during strap installation.
And if you have a finished basement, you will need to move any furniture, remove drywall, roll back carpet, remove utilities, etc. Repairing or replacing these finishes may be an additional cost that you need to consider when you have the work done.
This photo was taken by an Acculevel crew member, after Carbon Fiber Strap Installation and crack repair. Once the epoxy has fully dried, the homeowner can paint over these repairs to match the other white walls.
What Can Go Wrong with Wall Anchors?
If your wall is bowing more than 2 inches, the least expensive option is wall anchors. However, anchors come with more concerns than carbon fiber straps. To begin with, anchors require some outside excavation. The contractor will need accessible space in your yard, approximately 10 feet away from the damaged wall. This can be inconvenient, and sometimes add to the overall repair cost. Depending on where the anchor plate needs to be, you may have to remove landscaping, a walkway, decking, etc.
After the repairs are complete, you may also have some issues with water intrusion. This is because anchors require drilling through your foundation. Of course the contractors will seal the area around the installation when they’re done, and this may be enough for an extended amount of time. But any time you put a hole in a basement wall, you create the risk of possible water seepage or leaks.
What Can Go Wrong with Tiebacks?
Tiebacks are an alternative to wall anchors. They are a more expensive repair method, but if anchors aren’t a good fit, you’ll probably need these instead. This is because tiebacks don’t need any external excavation. And let’s be honest: if the needed ten feet of excavation will go across your property line, tiebacks are less stressful than trying to repair your relationship with the neighbors.
Like wall anchors, tiebacks present a risk of water intrusion because they go through your foundation wall. They also take longer to install than either carbon fiber straps or wall anchors, usually by a day or two.
This is Not a Fun Way to Spend Your Money. I Get That.
All of these potential issues can be a hassle, and I understand you might be reluctant to undertake a project on this scale. After all, you could spend that money on a fun vacation and put off this repair for a while. But I have to caution you: there is a real, tangible cost associated with delaying these repairs. In this article, we gave four specific examples to quantify what those expenses might be.
If you would like to know more about the costs to repair bowing walls, we have a blog here.
Want more details about carbon fiber straps? We have an entire article on this topic.
And we strongly encourage everyone to check out our free downloadable checklist of questions to ask contractors.
How Do I Find the Right Repair Company for Me?
You’ll want to find an experienced local foundation company, and verify the company is reputable, insured, and accredited by the Better Business Bureau. Ask for recommendations from neighbors who may have needed similar repairs, your housing association, or the online community. You can also use a resource like Angie’s List to search for the type of repairs you need, then look at reviews of the suggested contractors.
In our Resources section, we give you a link to a list of questions we recommend you ask every contractor before signing a contract. Every industry has its share of cons and scams, and home repair is no exception. We don’t want to see anyone in our community cheated!
If you live in Indiana or the surrounding states, contact Acculevel. Established in 1996, we specialize in foundation repairs. If you have noticed horizontal cracks in your basement, or if you have a bowing wall, you can request a free estimate.
One of our experienced project managers will evaluate your foundation and recommend the best course of action for you, to keep your home strong and healthy for years to come.