Fixing Block Wall With I Beams?

 
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Old 12-29-2009, 12:44 AM   #1
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Fixing Block Wall With I Beams?


Can steel I beams fix basement block walls that are bowed 3" inwards if the walls are straightened? What are the possibilities of the walls collapsing if I excavate and try to straighten them? I have fixed a few this way but with 1" minus deflection not 3-4" and completely cracked out.

The mortar is cracked all over between many courses and falling out. There are stair step cracks by every corner and one side has a 2 1/4" ledge in the block about 16' long where the block courses pushed in in the middle 5 courses but the bottom brick and top three courses stayed put. The sill plate of the house isn't even anchored to the wall at all!

The guy who wants the work done thinks this is an easy task and there isn't much risk involved. My liability insurance does not want to cover for walls collapsing or any damage incurred by manipulating the wall. I was thinking about getting a signed liability waiver from the homeowner so if any damage occurs he will have to pay for the repairs. There has to be a point when a block wall is unable to be repaired. And I think this one was there 10 years ago. Plus after i get the walls done and beamed he wants three egress windows cut in on two walls, which i feel would just weaken them more. He also wants the entire basement finished after all this is done so if the repair doesn't last he will blame me without a waiver.

I think a house mover and new basement walls should be what I am estimating and not something that i cannot garuntee!
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Old 12-29-2009, 05:39 AM   #2
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Re: Fixing Block Wall With I Beams?


Run, run as fast as you can in the other direction.

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Old 12-29-2009, 06:35 AM   #3
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Re: Fixing Block Wall With I Beams?


Step one is to bring in an engineer. Let the engineer tell you and the HO how to best fix things.

I've made the repair you are describing, and it was not easy or fun. Waiver or not, get the proper insurance.
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Old 12-29-2009, 06:46 AM   #4
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Re: Fixing Block Wall With I Beams?


I saw one just like that, I wish I had taken pictures....Had to come down. I-beam? ?? ??? I don't know anybody that would try that....well, maybe I do...but you shouldn't. Listen to CJ...
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:03 AM   #5
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Re: Fixing Block Wall With I Beams?


Sounds like the guy thinks he is an expert, so I think I would allow him to apply his expertise in this area and you should go look for someone else who is in need of you're services.

It is hard to turn down work any time and if your slow, this could be tempting. Even with waivers signed, once you touch these walls, you will be the owner of them until the HO decides he is happy.

I am sure the HO is looking for a price or some indication what this will cost, how can you possibly put an estimate on how the blocks will react to being pulled back to a plumb wall. The only real estimate you can make is supporting the house and rebuilding the wall properly.

If the HO would agree to this, then you could try to straighten and when it doesn't work, rebuild from the ground up.

I was involved in a similar situation that I walked away from. The guy was a friend and I told him I couldn't touch it, but I explained to him how I would repair the walls if they were pulled back to plumb. He had resources and courage to dig out the wall and pull it back to plumb with cables, winches and a bunch of structural steel. Then he repaired the joints, inserted rebar and grouted the whole thing and it is standing fine today. The original construction did not include any grouting or reinforcing rebar.

Since he already owned the mess, he didn't have a lot to lose trying and I know he spent a bunch of time completing the task. If I recall correctly the walls were only pushed in about 1 inch over 20 feet or so. I had serious doubts it would work, but the guy is happy as a clam today. It would be impossible to predict the same results in any other similar situation.

Run, don't walk, away from this. If the HO chases you down, then you can negotiate some favorable terms for attempting such a task.
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Old 01-01-2010, 12:09 AM   #6
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Re: Fixing Block Wall With I Beams?


It is very possible to rebuild one wall at a time and set the house back down on the new walls, I fixed a dudes house this way before, we jacked up his house and sat it down on some 6x6 lumber criss crossed then tore the old walls out and rebuilt the masonry walls, then sat the house back down on the new walls. It was actually quite slick, but it will pop nails in your sheetrock though.
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Old 01-01-2010, 12:19 AM   #7
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Re: Fixing Block Wall With I Beams?


I have done the I beam repair before. As stated it is not fun, and the walls in our case had not bowed yet. There was a complete failure on the non bearing end of the house however and this had to be removed and rebuilt. This involved cutting the floor out about a foot from the wall setting the beams vertically punching weep holes ( there were none which caused the failure the drain tile went nowhere.) Blocking the floor structure setting beams and pouring the floor back.

Get an engineer to certify what the fix is and stamp the plans.
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Old 01-01-2010, 03:21 PM   #8
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Re: Fixing Block Wall With I Beams?


I get queries like this often. I can usually determine in the first minute of discussion what the real goal is: Halfass "Fix" the problem on the cheap.

At that point, I give them 2 pieces of advice for free and we are done:

Anything CAN be done, but can you afford it?

Better to fix it once at twice the price than to fix it thrice at 4 times the price.
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Old 01-01-2010, 04:24 PM   #9
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Re: Fixing Block Wall With I Beams?


If a wall has a horizontal crack and has bowed, it has already failed and jacking it into alignment and using vertical I beams will never make it as strong as it originally was, but it will still be ugly with the verticals in place.

It is just a band-aid if you do not correct the cause.

ND can be a real problem because of the strange soils and general lack of drainage.
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Old 01-01-2010, 07:43 PM   #10
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Re: Fixing Block Wall With I Beams?


They always want it fixed for nothing, Tscar said it right, anything can be done but can you afford it? I just bid one and lost it apparently someone else is in there working. I bid it to fix it one time and it be right, but i think the lady reallly just wanted it patched back together. She didn't want to spend that much money. Best case scenario would be jack it up and build a new foundation under it. But you get what you pay for...and no one wants to pay.
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Old 01-01-2010, 08:45 PM   #11
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Re: Fixing Block Wall With I Beams?


Quote:
Originally Posted by eXpatRioteX View Post
Step one is to bring in an engineer. Let the engineer tell you and the HO how to best fix things.

I've made the repair you are describing, and it was not easy or fun. Waiver or not, get the proper insurance.
Yep, you gotta have a structural engineer design a fix, stamp the plan, and then you gotta follow it exactly. Then the monkey is on his insurance company's back, not yours. Without that I would gracefully decline the work.
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Old 01-01-2010, 09:25 PM   #12
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Re: Fixing Block Wall With I Beams?


remove the block and rebuild the wall.
had the same thing a few years back.a tree was planted along side the house and over time the roots pushed the block wall in the basement inward.i was able to jack up the house,remove and replace the wall.it was an easy fix.
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Old 03-14-2010, 09:18 AM   #13
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Re: Fixing Block Wall With I Beams?


Quote:
Originally Posted by NDbuilder View Post
The guy who wants the work done thinks this is an easy task and there isn't much risk involved.
I love this attitude.

I walk into the heart surgeons office and say "Doc I need bypass surgery. It's an easy task just grab a few veins out of my leg, pop my chest, a stitch here and there and close 'er back up. I'd do it myself if I wasn't going to be unconscious."

wtf? Somepeople *watch* waaay to much This Old House.

My attitude is getting to be, "You know what, I bet you could rustle up a couple guys from HD and just knock it out yourself. It would save you a lot of money compared to me doing it." Not even gonna' go into the song and dance any more because someone saying that kinda thing in that situation is as insulting and idiotic as the bypass example above.

Yeah, give me a good deal on this easy fix so we can move on to refinishing my basement, riiiight.

Ask yourself this, do you want this guy as a repeat customer? That is a criteria I use. If the needle is truly on empty I might set it aside for a minute but every minute I spend on a cut-rate-know-it-all is a minute I'm not finding a client that I want to add to the fold.

I agree with other posters if you want to do this job (either for the experience or the money) make it *your* job, *your* fix, *your* price: better yet save yourself what sounds like a certain headache and move on.

Sorry just had to get that off my chest.

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Old 03-14-2010, 10:12 AM   #14
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Re: Fixing Block Wall With I Beams?


If the guy thinks its an easy task tell him to get a a few pizzas on a saturday, a few buddies, and a few beers. They should be able to knock it out in a weekend. On a serious note, i have done a # of these jobs, the top plate not being anchored was a big part of the cause. Most times we dig out the back side , get the load off the compromised wall, remove and rebuild, every situation is different, and there are many possible solutions, GMOD.
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Old 03-14-2010, 11:15 AM   #15
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Re: Fixing Block Wall With I Beams?


Quote:
Originally Posted by stacker View Post
remove the block and rebuild the wall.
had the same thing a few years back.a tree was planted along side the house and over time the roots pushed the block wall in the basement inward.i was able to jack up the house,remove and replace the wall.it was an easy fix.
Same issue with my Dads house in KS. He took the same course of action as stacker and today it is as good as new.

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