TieBacks vs. Bracing
Contrasting two approaches to wall stabilization in foundation repair
Wall straightening / stabilization is an extremely important part of foundation repairs.
Often this is required when there is vertical movement on foundation walls (bowing or leaning), typically caused by hydrostatic pressure pushing in on the foundation walls. This often occurs when the dirt and clay around the structure absorbs water and expands. Over the course of time, the soil cycles between being very wet and very dry, which causes multiple cycles of expansion and contraction, which puts a lot of stress on the walls.
While there are number of varieties, often the choice for stabilization comes down to either using wall braces (I-beams) or TieBacks. In some situations, we will use a combination of the two. Generally, bracing uses some kind of beam (often “I” or “C” beams). TieBacks involve running a threaded rod into the ground outside of the home, and creating an anchoring mechanism in the soil away from the home (often a combination of plates and/or concrete), and then a plate inside the basement. By tightening the plates, an outward pressure is exerted on the wall to counter the inward pressure caused by the soil conditions.
Generally, wall bracing is less expensive and easier to install. So in what circumstances are TieBacks suggested over beams? Here are several circumstances:
First, when the foundation wall opposite of wall we are trying to support is NOT a full foundation wall. This can be a walkout basement, an egressed garage, or a partial wall. We suggest TieBacks in this circumstance because there is less opposing force to hold the targeted wall in place when the opposite wall has these egressed features. Thus, to use bracing (instead of TieBacks), we want to ensure we have a full foundation wall opposite to provide sufficient counter force.
Second, wall bracing (I-beam supports, etc) rely heavily on having very strong support structures from the floor joists in the basement ceiling. Beams are supported at the bottom by embedding them in concrete, but at the top by building a stabilization mechanism (header) into the floor joists. If we have a concern that either (a) the floor joists are not sturdy enough to support the countering pressure, or (b) the floor joists are too difficult to access in order to build this header structure, we will then suggest the TieBacks, which do NOT rely on the floor joists for support.
Lastly, in instances where the wall is leaning or bowing more dramatically, your evaluator may suggest TiBacks over beams simply because we need to create more counter force to support the wall. Your evaluator will assess this by measuring the amount of movement (bowing or leaning) that is present in the wall. In more dramatic circumstances, TieBacks may be necessary.
A few concluding notes:
- While we have discussed TieBacks vs. Bracing here, there are a number of variations over each concept.
- Be sure to speak with your evaluator to understand why they have made the recommendation of one over the other (or both); an important part of your evaluation of our proposal is understanding the logic we have used on your custom repair plan.
- Know we, at Foundation 1, use both beams and TieBacks extensively. We do not have a preference of one over the other, but rather base our repair plan on the specifics of your home and the requirements we are placing on the repair system to meet your individual goals.
As always, if you have questions about your repair plan, please reach out to your evaluator, who will be more than happy to walk you through the suggestions.