Thursday, August 4th, 2022 by Aaron Stull
Straightening Bowed Foundation Walls
When a homeowner desires their walls to be made straight and permanently reinforced, and to prevent any future movement, they need to consult a true expert. The process is involved and requires many technical disciplines. This process, as it is colloquially called, is a "dig & push," and can reliably straighten your walls and make sure they never move again. That is something we guarantee at Keystone Basement Systems.
Before we begin we should discuss how to determine if this process is right for your home. Initially, all foundation damage needs evaluated to ensure the home is a good candidate for the wall straightening process. Some homes cannot receive this process because of immutable situational characteristics. Disadvantageous property line constraints, excessive foundation damage, unsafe working condition, immovable obstructions and movement not classified as inward deflection are just some of the reasons a dig & push may not be right for your home. That said, if a home is a viable candidate for having its bowed foundation wall(s) straightened, then the following information applies.
I am always suspect of a contractor who excavates a residential foundation wall without internally bracing it. Safety first! Residential home are relatively light and a machine can damage a wall if proper precautions are not taken. The very first step is to reinforce the walls so they can be safely excavated.
There are many ways to brace a wall. Back in 2010 I wanted a better way, as the methods I was using were not quite as effective and safe as I would like. The lateral wall brace method was one that was around for many years. They usually used "bottle jacks" with less than ideal performance in the position perpendicular to the wall. The bottle jacks would lose their hydraulic integrity over night and be dangerously loose the next morning. This was the root of my discomfort using these previous methods. Knowing this, I decided to have my own system fabricated using a jack system that could operate better in the near perpendicular position.
The first step was to locate a hydraulic jack that would work at a steep angle. It took some time, but after much search, I was connected with a vendor who worked with the US Military. They had the ideal 50 ton jacks and I procured them.
I wanted to fabricate my system using common stock steel. This way I could have more of them made very easily if the situation demanded it. The system needed to adapt to the various foundation profiles I have seen in my 19-years in this business and also be capable to disassemble for relatively easy transport.
The hand-drawn designs are now lost, but these were the preliminary designs.
I had seen examples of this style of reinforcement before, so almost all of the design is from those examples of other systems, but I wanted to create a system strong enough to be excavation bracing and then transition into the wall jack system for pushing the foundation wall(s) straight. I needed it to be adaptable, transportable and easily replicable. This was what I had made.
The first system consisted of 5 x 50 ton jack apparatuses. The total weight was approximately 2040 pounds, or 136lbs per piece. Yes, I subsequently thought about using aluminum for the next iteration, haha. Anyway, the design way adaptable and worked great. If the home had a competent 4" concrete floor slab, in viable condition, then sufficient conditions existed to leverage the slab as a point of resistance to brace from. The below pictures show the bottom C-Channel being anchored with high grade 3/4" bolts.
CarbonArmor Wall Reinforcement is added to make sure the wall never moves again. The wall is backfilled and the homeowner can begin to move on from this problem.
In closing, this project had the lowest amount of risk with the highest degree of success. Is there a higher degree of success fr that if you are a foundation contractor?
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