Unless it’s caused by a natural disaster or some other traumatic event, most damage to the home starts small – a flapping shingle that leads to a leaking roof, a smell of dampness that’s a precursor to a wet basement or, as Larry from Wilmette discovered no long ago, a small crack in a bedroom wall that was a bad omen for his foundation.
Larry and his family live in a pretty typical home for Wilmette – a two-story, five bedroom house on a half-acre lot. Larry’s house was built in 1962, also typical of central Wilmette, and he had contracted out the usual repairs in the 15 years he and his family had lived there: new roof, replacement water heater and air conditioner and the usual small stuff like plumbing, painting and minor electrical work.
One day this spring Larry’s wife Caryn called his attention to a small crack in drywall that ran from the corner of one of their bedroom windows up to the ceiling and asked him if he’d noticed it before. He hadn’t but he told her not to worry about it because it was “probably just settling.”
Both were satisfied with this explanation until a few weeks later when Larry spotted another, similar crack, this time on the first floor, emanating from the door to the family room located right below the bedroom. The second crack worried Larry and he called his neighbor Alan who had mentioned something similar happening in his house a year or so earlier.
Diagnosing the Foundation Damage
Alan told Larry that the cracks in his wall had been signs that his foundation had separated from the house and urged Larry to call in a structural engineer and not put it off like he had done. Spurred by his friend’s tale of a huge repair bill, Larry made the call.
A few days after the structural engineer had packed up his laser levels and measuring devices after crawling all over the house and making notes, his report arrived in Larry’s e-mail. The bad news was that the south wall of Larry’s poured concrete foundation had cracked in several places and had begun to tilt inward from the top; the better news was that the damage, probably caused by lateral pressure from swollen soil (caused by heavy spring rains) was limited and the wall had only begun to move. The engineer measured the deflection, or amount of inward movement, at about 1 inch and recommended that the wall be stabilized before it got worse.
Repairing the Damaged Foundation
After meeting with several companies, Larry chose a foundation repair contractor who, while not the lowest bidder, seemed to have the most experience and offered the most appealing repair proposal – one that recommended stabilizing the wall with carbon fiber.
When the contractor’s crew arrived, they had engineering drawings that specified the exact placement of the 12” carbon fiber strips on the damaged wall. After measuring and marking the appropriate intervals, the installers began to grind vertical areas of the wall to flatten and smooth them, explaining to Larry that this would improve the adherence of the carbon fiber to the concrete.
Once the walls were prepared, the installers spread a powerful epoxy along each ground area then laid the carbon fibers strips in the epoxy, using high-pressure rollers to securely embed them. Once this was completed, they bolted steel angle to top of the wall, completing its stabilization. Elapsed time – less than one day. The cost – less than using steel I-beams and a lot less than rebuilding the entire wall.
Larry can now call in a handyman to fix the drywall cracks in the house, secure in the knowledge that his foundation is stabilized and the cracks won’t recur. He’s a happy homeowner.
If you find yourself in Larry’s shoes (or Larry’s foundation) you’ll need the help of a foundation repair contractor that will do as good a job as Larry’s did for him. As it turns out, Larry called on U.S. Waterproofing’s foundation experts to stabilize his foundation wall and has become another of our satisfied customers. Why not do what Larry did and ask for a free consultation?