Why Carbon Fiber Straps Outperform Other Foundation-Reinforcing Solutions
Does your home have a basement? Are the basement walls showing signs of movement? Foundation wall movement is a common challenge faced by homeowners. The foundation walls are not only under vertical pressure as a result of supporting the building above them but also horizontal pressure from the soils surrounding them.
Homes with poor drainage systems or high water tables often suffer foundation damage as a result of increased hydrostatic pressure acting against the basement wall. Horizontal cracks on the basement walls are one of the first signs of damage.
Aside from resolving the drainage problem, the damaged walls will need to be reinforced. There are various traditional methods used for this. These include:
- Installing earth anchors in a tie-back system – This resists the earth pressure and holds the wall in place.
- Installing steel I-beams – These beams transfer the horizontal pressure on the wall to the floor or the joists above and thus resist movement.
- Replacing the damaged portion of the foundation wall
Why carbon fiber straps outperform traditional reinforcement methods
The traditional methods used to reinforce bowing foundation walls are not only costly to install but also messy and labor-intensive. They are also not very effective at restraining the walls and preventing further movement. This is because these methods do not address a key engineering factor that causes the bowing and cracking of the foundation walls: the lack of tensile strength in the wall.
Foundation walls can effectively resist compression forces that act vertically, e.g. the weight of the building on the foundation. They are, however, ineffective at resisting the horizontal force of the soil as they lack tensile strength.
Carbon fiber straps provide foundation walls with the tensile strength they need to resist further movement. Carbon fiber straps consist of interwoven strands of a polymer that has undergone several heating cycles to achieve extra strong bonds between the molecules. A steel I-beam can only resist up to 40,000 pounds of tension. A carbon fiber strap that is less than 1/8th inch thick can resist up to 10 times that much pressure.
Carbon fiber, therefore, provides the reinforcement that foundation walls require to stop the movement and prevent further cracking. They are therefore the most effective solution for repairing bowing basement walls. Be sure to talk to a foundation repair contractor to learn more about this solution and whether it would be a good option for your foundation.
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