There have been many changes and advancements in home construction materials over the years. Asphalt shingles have replaced wood shakes, drywall is now the standard over plaster and vinyl siding is far more common than wooden clapboards.
The stuff we use to repair our homes has changed, too. Spray foam fills voids around windows instead of bits of Fiberglas insulation. Fast-drying, lightweight spackle makes filling holes in walls a quick and easy job. Water-based paints have all but replaced oils, especially for do-it-yourselfers.
Changes have come to professional home repairs too, including the use of carbon fiber strips for structural foundation repairs.
The old way of repairing a wall that had bulged, bowed or rotated inward due to lateral pressure from expanding soil around a home’s foundation was to use steel I-beams set vertically against the inside of the wall and anchored top and bottom to prevent further movement. This method is still used occasionally but has been largely supplanted by other methods, mostly by applying carbon fiber strips.
Carbon fiber is a high-strength strand that is woven into a fabric that is virtually unbreakable and does not stretch. When used for structural foundation repair, it is epoxied to the damaged wall at intervals determined by the type and severity of the damage. When a steel angle is added to the top of the wall, between floor joists, the wall is completely stabilized and no further movement occurs.
Quick Installation – The installation process for carbon fiber is very simple: the area of the wall where the strip will go is ground flat and a bed of high-strength epoxy is applied. The carbon fiber strip is embedded into this under pressure and the steel angle is bolted to the top. Depending on the size of the wall, carbon fiber repairs can be done in a day.
Incredible Strength – Carbon fiber is a super strong material that is even being used in the construction of commercial aircraft. It cannot break and the fibers do not stretch so when properly applied the wall repairs are permanent.
Low Visibility -- When the carbon fiber strip has been applied to the wall, it shows up as only a small bump on the wall, a fraction of an inch thick. It can be painted over, which makes it nearly disappear, and a normal stud wall can be constructed over it if the basement is to be finished.
No Maintenance – When the carbon fiber repair is finished, it requires no further attention from the homeowner – or anyone.
Low Cost – Carbon fiber repairs can be done for approximately half the cost of steel beams.
Limits on Application – The only drawback to carbon fiber repair is that it can be used only on walls that have deflected, or moved inward, two inches or less. When it comes to wall movement, two inches is quite a lot, so most homeowners will have noticed the problem before that point. Given all the advantages of carbon fiber repairs, there are good reasons for homeowners to pay close attention to any signs of foundation wall damage.
In cases of extreme wall movement, steel is used but the process has been updated to create repairs that require no maintenance and may be less obtrusive than in the past.
Although the carbon fiber process is not overly complex, it requires the services of a professional who understands the nature of the damage and can specify the proper number and location of carbon fiber strips, as well as installers who do the work properly. At U.S. Waterproofing, we employ a specially trained group of advisors and installers to make sure we do the job right the first time every time. Why not ask for a free consultation?
If you want to know more about using carbon fiber for structural foundation repair, please ask your questions in the Comments box below.
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