Bowed/cracked Block Wall. I-beam Vs Carbon Fiber - Building & Construction - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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Old 09-05-2014, 01:48 PM   #1
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Bowed/cracked block wall. I-beam vs carbon fiber

This is more generally home structural repair than stone and masonry specifically, but if the mods wish to move it that's fine.

Basic question is... if you have ever repaired a bulged and cracked basement wall, what method would you choose, what problems did you run into, and would you do it differently the next time?

I'm eliminating the primary cause next week. Gutters in front of home missing for eight years.

Web and Youtube research offers thousands of explanations and tutorials on various methods. But I find no mention, even when "steel I-beam vs carbon fiber" is the topic as to what carbon fiber accomplishes exactly.

I-beam applied is straight forward and elementary. The difficulty here in comprehending and applying it is near zero for a competent DIY'er. Carbon fiber appears able, with plenty of anecdotal and engineering evidence, to prevent a wall from bowing. But I could not find a case in any videos or explanations where it is shown capable of restoring a 2 to 3 inch bulge, or a 1/2 inch bulge for that matter when applied. It would seem obvious enough that it can't yet the pro/con arguments go on with no mention of it. The contractors advertisements for carbon fiber seem very good at suggesting this would be the case without ever going so far as claiming it outright.

The only possible way I could see that happening is if a temporary "soldier" wall of steel I-beam were put in place to restore the wall to near vertical, carbon fiber strip applied, and then the I-beam removed.

With materials purchased and hauled home in my truck I could do the soldier wall along the one wall that needs it. Harbor Steel is three miles from m front door. I'm a tig/mig welder so bracketing is easily fabbed. The next possibility in terms of difficulty, but probably even more elegant as a solution would be to DIY my own anchors in the front lawn and drive rods out to them as shown in many examples online. Have to hire a backhoe for a day and find out how to accurately drive rods to the anchor points. Less material cost, less obvious repair work in the basement, more time and labor.

But the soldier wall seems the most DIY'able. Done with thinner profile channel steel that matches the tensile strength of I-beam but with less loss of floor space behind a finished wall, I can do it with material costs for 1/3 to 1/2 of a contractor's price.

Anyone here repaired a bowing basement wall? Would you do it differently next time?


Last edited by frascati; 09-05-2014 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 09-05-2014, 02:10 PM   #2
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Here's another alternative, but not very DIY:


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Old 09-05-2014, 02:25 PM   #3
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Can you tell us how the carbon fiber is going to be used?

Lb for lb, it is far stronger than steel and it won't rust. But it won't straighten a wall but could be used to keep a wall strong and straight.

I work with the stuff all the time bit it's not the solution to end all solutions. It's expensive and has to be cured correctly. So unless they are using pre- cured sections, the material would need to be payed in place, vacuum bagged and heated up pretty hot. At least 300 deg or more for a few hours.

How about pics and more info on the composite option?
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Old 09-05-2014, 03:44 PM   #4
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"The only possible way I could see that happening is if a temporary "soldier" wall of steel I-beam were put in place to restore the wall to near vertical, carbon fiber strip applied, and then the I-beam removed."

So what your saying is install soldier pile, but what will you use for lagging, and do you intend to pull the wall vertical with the tie backs threaded through the waleing???
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Old 09-05-2014, 04:49 PM   #5
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I have written a number of reports specifying techniques for repair of bowing walls, mostly bowing concrete block walls. I have generally left the exact method of repair up to the contractor, typically I write a specification indicating the goal, and let the contractors bid using their methodology, which may include steel columns, carbon fiber, tiebacks, or installation of vertical steel reinforcing into the blocks.

Most of the time I specify that the wall must be prevented from bowing further, but I generally do not specify that the wall be restored to vertical condition. Restoration of the wall to vertical is often expensive, in fact it may cost considerably more than simply stabilizing the wall in existing condition. If the owner is concerned about the cosmetic appearance of the wall, I can write a spec requiring restoration to plumb, but most owners simply want to stabilize the wall, and get a contractor warranty that the wall will remain in present condition for a period of time, often ten years. They may epoxy the cracks closed to prevent water infiltration, but often will live with a bowed wall, especially if it is an unfinished basement.
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