BILLS BASEMENT BLOG - Foundation repair - beams vs. anchors vs. replacement
Friday, June 1st, 2012 by Bill Heady
Here at Midwest Basement Systems we repair a LOT of walls every year. It's one of our specialties. We invented and have patents on several products to do just that.
One question that often comes up is "what makes your way of fixing my basement walls so much better than your competition (our main competion being any number of companies installing wall anchors)?".
Well, that is a good question. I like to look at the big foundation picture from a basic logical point of view. Does it make any sense to try to stop your walls from moving by anchoring into the ground thats pushing the walls in to begin with, using plates much smaller than the wall itself. Short answer.............no it does not!
Look at it this way, take the length of a given wall by the depth of the wall that is under ground. That is how much ground there is pushing the wall in. Does it seem even a little bit possible that anchor plates spaced 4 or five feet apart, covering a relatively small area, are going to hold back all that ground from pushing your wall in? I say it does not. It would be like me playing tug of war with my 1 year old son. I am way bigger, so I will win every time. Even if you throw the dog in there, it's still a one sided affair. Also, as I mentioned earlier, you are anchoring into the ground that is pushing the walls in to begin with, thataway the ground, the wall, and the anchor, can all move in together. Each peice of the puzzle contributing in its own way to your foundation problems. Now that is what I call synergy! In other words, the anchor transfers the load back to the ground pushing the wall in. So around and around we go.
I beams are not only a better solution, in my opinion they are the ONLY solution to cracked and bowing walls. An I-beam system like the Powerbrace can not only brace the wall so it gets no worse, but if properly maintained (read; periodicaly tightened to the proper torque) it will, depending on the material used to back fill the wall, atain some level of correction if not straighen the wall. And if the backfill is excavated when the PowerBraces are installed 100% correction is not at all uncomon. We have corrected hundreds of foundation walls and even saved a few that wouldn't have been standing at all for much longer if left unattended.
Another solution we are asked about is replacement, and we do also replace a lot of walls that are too far gone to save. If the wall is still in decent shape (other than some cracks and some bowing), the smart money braces, excavates, and straightens. Remember, that wall that has the bow in it now was new at one time. If you replace and don't reinforce, you'll end up right back where you started. We have looked at walls in the past, proposed bracing and been called back years later to brace the wall after it was replaced. It has happened more than once. Brace don't replace.
I know there are probably some anchor people out there right now jumping up and down and cursing at their computer (and me). But we've been doing this long enough to know what works and what doesn't. If anchors worked better, we'd be installing them instead of beams. But they just don't. I don't make the rules, it's just the way it is.