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Expansive Soils & Structural Damage To A Foundation

a foundation wall showing severe cracks due to expansive foundation soils

Clay Expansion & Moisture

Clay soils can expand and contract in extremes as it becomes saturated with water during rainy periods or dries out during drought conditions.

This expansion and contraction can lead to severe damage to foundation walls, as well as their eventual failure.

Fortunately, there are several options for providing a permanent solution to this type of damage.

If you have expansive clay soils outside of your home, it may be resulting in cracks and damage to your foundation walls.

Telltale Signs Of Expansive Soil Damage:

  • Horizontal or Stair-Step Wall Cracks
  • Diagonal Cracks Along Corners Of Poured Concrete Foundation Walls
  • Inward Bowing Or Bulging Along The Walls
  • Foundation Walls Sliding In Along The Bottom
  • Foundation Walls Tilting In Along The Top

This damage will develop continually until the foundation walls collapse. Addressing the issues early on is the fastest, least expensive, and most reliable way to permanently solve your problem.

Finding A Foundation Expert In Your Area

At Basement Systems, we specialize in waterproofing, not structural repairs. However, many of our dealers are also members of our sister network -- Foundation Supportworks, Inc (FSI).

We work with Foundation Supportworks to help homeowners find the best, certified contractor in their area. Sign up for a free estimate, and we'll send the expert in your area that's best qualified to help you.

Schedule A FREE Estimate

Combined, our Basement Systems and Foundation Supportworks have a warrantied, reliable, permanent solution for any repairs you may need for your basement, crawl space, or foundation.

Don't wait to restore value, functionality, and structural stability to your home! Contact us by phone or e-mail today to schedule a free foundation repair estimate!

a diagram of the several ways that a foundation can commonly be damaged by street creep

Street Creep Damage

Street creep is a common foundation issue that's caused as concrete sheets in driveways and roadways expand and contract with temperature changes.

These concrete slabs have expansion joints between each of them that are wide in the winter and narrower in the summer to compensation for the concrete's shifting size.

As these joints fill with debris, they concrete slabs have nowhere to go when they expand and contract. As a result, the street presses on your driveway, the driveway presses no your garage slab, and that, in turn, presses on your foundation, causing damage.

This is a slow process that can take many years to significantly damage your foundation.

What Causes Cracked, Bowing Walls?

As the soils around your home expand and contract with moisture, they can put enormous pressure on your walls. This pressure depends on four factors:

  1. The type of soil around the foundation
  2. The amount of moisture in the soil
  3. How far underground the foundation is
  4. The temperature conditions

While this pressure is pushing on the outside of your foundation, there is no counterpressure on the inside pushing back to equalize the force!

As the pressure on the outside becomes more than the foundation walls can handle, they will begin to move inwards and begin to fail.

Forces such as hydrostatic pressure, expansive clay soil, and frost can create enough pressure to push foundation walls inwards, and even make them collapse over time.

Does The Foundation Need Replacement?

Removing and replacing a foundation is expensive, time-consuming, and destructive to landscaping. It involves excavating to expose the foundation, supporting your house with a temporary system, and replacing the walls with new ones.

Fortunately, the answer to this question is almost always "no". There is usually a simpler, less extreme solution for repairing a foundation.

In fact, because a proper foundation repair addresses the problem that caused the damage in the first place, it is generally considered the superior solution -- one that will not lead to additional damage to your structure in the future.

Option 1: Anchor The Wall With The Foundation Soils

A wall anchor system can be used to add counterpressure to a foundation wall that is being pushed upon from the outside. This is most effective when outside access to the home is possible.

diagram of wall anchors bracing a foundation wall

Foundation Wall Anchors

A foundation wall anchor is a three-part system includes a wall plate, an anchor rod, and a soil anchor.

During the installation, a hole is excavated in the yard, and a steel soil anchor is positioned in place.

From the inside of the wall, small hole is drilled in the foundation wall, and the extending anchor rod is driven through the soil to meet the soil anchor.

A steel plate is then affixed to the rod from the inside of the foundation wall and tightened securely. The hole in the yard is filled, the landscaping is restored, and the installation is complete. A properly-installed foundation wall system should permanently halt all inward movement of your foundation walls.

a wall anchor system installed in a home with a repaired foundation wall

The Geo-Lock™ Wall Anchor System

When outside access to your foundation walls is possible, the Geo-Lock Wall Anchor System is recommended.

warrantied (25-years), year-round installation of this option is possible, with most jobs being completed within a day's time. They can be installed with minimal disturbance to your home, lawn, and landscaping.

Additionally, these wall anchors are designed so they can be tightened, gradually straightening your basement walls back to their original position. To resist corrosion damage, each wall anchor is designed with galvanized steel, which keeps them strong and looking great for decades to come.

Learn more about the Geo-Lock Wall Anchor System

Option 2: Brace The Foundation Wall From Inward Movement

Metal beams, commonly referred to as I-beams can be installed along the foundation wall to provide a powerful brace to inward movement. This is effective when outside access is limited.

a cracked concrete foundation wall

I-Beam Foundation Wall Braces

When outside access to the home is not possible, a wall anchor installation is impossible. In situations like this, experts will often recommend installing steel I-beams along your bowing, buckling foundation walls.

I-beams are designed with large steel beams that extend along the foundation wall, permanently halting its inward movement to maintain the strength of your walls.

I-beams can be installed year-round, with no need for any outside excavation. Like wall anchors, they are appropriate for repairing not only buckling walls, but also walls that are leaning inwards along the top or sliding inwards along the bottom of the floor. I-beams are sometimes seen as a less-desirable option because of their industrial appearance, and because they take up some space along the perimeter of the basement walls.I-beams installed to reinforce a foundation wall

The PowerBrace™ I-Beam System

Unlike comparable generic I-beam systems, the PowerBrace™ I-Beam System is zinc-coated to resist unsightly rust and corrosion along the beams.

The PowerBrace™ also stands out from other I-beam systems due to its innovative floor joist hardware. This unique feature allows the beam installation to push the walls, gradually, back to their original, straight position. The straightening potential depends on several factors, including the soil conditions outside of the foundation.

This system is provided with a 25-year warranty that is transferable to the next homeowner, should you decide to sell the house.

Learn more about the PowerBrace™ I-Beam System

Option 3: Reinforce The Walls With Carbon Fiber Strips

Installing carbon fiber strips is an effective way to reinforce a foundation wall that's bowing or bucking in the middle. This is a good option when outdoor access is limited, but the homeowner does not want to lose valuable living space.

carbon fiber strips installed on a foundation wall that was buckling due to expansive soils

Carbon Fiber Strips

When outside access to the foundation is not possible, and the homeowner is planning on finishing the basement after the repairs have been completed, carbon fiber straps are a useful repair option.

These strips fit tightly against your wall, taking up virtually no space along your basement perimeter, while providing bands that are ten times stronger than steel. They can be painted over, and walls and studs can also be installed safely over this system,

Unlike I-beams, these straps absorb the pressure on your walls directly, without transferring it into your floors. This makes them an effective solution for bowing or buckling walls, but not for walls that are sliding in at the bottom or tilting in at the top.

a buckling foundation wall repaired with carbon fiber strips

The CarbonArmor® Wall System

If your basement has many obstacles, such as pipes, wires, and utilities, installed, the CarbonArmor® system may be the most appropriate solution for you.

Carbon fiber straps are highly portable, and can be tucked easily behind obstacles with no intrusion. They can be installed quickly in a home, and require none of the heavy-duty equipment that other options make necessary.

Like many of the other foundation repair options available, the CarbonArmor® System is installed with a 25-year warranty -- one that is transferable to the next owner of the home.

Learn more about the CarbonArmor® Carbon Fiber System

Option 4: Anchor & Restore The Foundation Wall

Foundation wall anchors can be combined with an application of shotcrete to reinforce and restore a severely damaged foundation wall. This is ideal when the wall in question is badly deteriorated.

a collapsing foundation wall braced with wall anchors

Shotcrete Wall Restoration

In some cases, where the foundation wall is showing extreme signs of damage and deterioration but is still standing, many contractors will combine a wall anchor installation with an application of shotcrete.

Shotcrete is a fiber-reinforced concrete material that is conveyed through a hose and pneumatically projected onto a wall surface. Due to the high force used when adhering it to a wall, shotcrete undergoes a significant compaction process that produces a wall surface that is more than twice the strength of regular concrete.

Reinforcing a foundation wall that is collapsing with shotcrete is a proven way to permanently restore and stabilize the wall, while also creating an aesthetically superior surface for the homeowner.

a restored foundation wall that was previous caving in

The Foundation Supportworks Shotcrete Foundation Wall System

We've adapted our Geo-Lock Wall Anchor System to be used in combination with a shotcrete wall installation for maximum effectiveness in your repair.

First, Geo-Lock Anchors are installed to shore up the existing, failing wall. Once this is completed, a layer of shotcrete is impacted onto the wall.

In the third step, a second wall anchor plate is connected to the installed anchor system, and is pressed into the shotcrete wall. This installation is covered with a second coating of shotcrete. The wall is smoothed over for a professional, finished look, and the work area is carefully and thoroughly cleaned.

This patent-pending system is the ideal way to repair failing foundation walls -- without no need to rebuild!

Learn more about the FSI Shotcrete System

Finding A Reliable Foundation Repair Contractor In Your Area

Between the two networks, Basement Systems and Foundation Supportworks serves throughout Canada and the United States, with hundreds of locally owned and operated Certified Dealers in business.

If you have any issue at all with your basement, crawl space, or foundation, we're the contractors you're looking for! Contact us by phone or e-mail today to schedule a free, no-obligation foundation repair cost estimate!

Each free estimate includes an on-site inspection of the problem, a professional consultation where we answer any questions you may have, and a customized solution that we design with you. As an added courtesy, we'll also send along a complimentary copy of our full-color book, Foundation Repair Science, for you to use as a research tool. Our experts are standing by in your neighborhood to help you!

Looking for a price? Get a no cost, no obligation free estimate.

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Our innovative and forward-thinking approach to designing products has solved wet basement problems that the basement waterproofing and crawl space industry has faced for decades, and our patented sump pump systems are the smartest and most reliable. Plus we listen to our customers and respond accordingly! Basement Systems Inc. has been awarded 24 Patents and 19 Innovation Prizes on waterproofing products we use every day, including a battery back up sump pump system. This approach ensures the best waterproofing systems and solutions available.