Wall anchors are one of the most common and effective products for repairing bowing, leaning, or buckling walls in a Pittsburgh property’s basement. Of course, there are other possible repair options, each with their own benefits and limitations, but wall anchors are some of the most effective when they are compatible with the home and situation. The main limitation of wall anchors, of course, is their need for a certain amount of exterior space to ensure proper installation.
The first step in wall anchor installation, of course, is to assess the damage to the wall and map out where the anchors should be placed, both internally and externally. This process will require some level of excavation and can be disruptive, but it is relatively short. The earth anchors themselves must be placed in the earth at least 10 feet from the outside of your foundation wall. Meanwhile, on the inside of your home, holes must be drilled so that steel rods can be fed through and connected to the earth anchors.
The other ends of these steel rods then are attached to the wall plates that are mounted in strategically placed areas. Once connected, these rods will be instrumental in stabilizing and straightening a damaged wall. This is achieved by tightening them over time to apply more pressure to the wall by using the earth anchor. Once your wall anchors have been fully installed, inside and out, the excavation points will be covered up and restored to ensure a flawless finish.
Your basement walls are some of the most vulnerable in your home as a whole, because of their unique positioning and the pressure that they face. Your basement walls are some of the only walls in a property that face lateral pressure on a regular basis. This is because basement walls are placed below ground level and they have to deal with hydrostatic pressure on a daily basis.
Hydrostatic pressure is, to put it simply, the weight of the soil and the water that it contains. This is something that all homes have to contend with, though it is a more pressing issue when the property has a basement, and properties are designed to withstand it to a certain degree. Unfortunately, the level of hydrostatic pressure can be increased when heavy rainfall, flooding, or poor drainage lead to soil saturation around a home. Because concrete has a proportionally low tensile strength, this lateral pressure can cause basement walls to bow or buckle inwards. Of course, this is not the only possibility.
There is also a chance that defects in the design process or the materials used during construction have left your basement wall weak. This weakness can lead to the walls being fundamentally unprepared to face hydrostatic pressure (or any kind of pressure, really). This is a serious issue because repairing this kind of damage will be far more complex and could even require replacements in very weak parts of your property’s structure. Thankfully, defects and design flaws are not common. As such, soil saturation and hydrostatic pressure are far more likely causes of your Pittsburgh property’s bowing walls.
Foundation damage is a serious issue that should never be underestimated. As well as being severe, foundation issues are notorious for growing at an exponential rate and having an impact on the wider structure of a property. From your walls to your floors and all the way to your roof, every part of your Pittsburgh property is dependent on your foundation for support and stability. Any movement or destabilization in your foundation will leave the door open for serious damage.
So, as you might imagine, we recommend that you deal with foundation damage as soon as you see the warning signs. Many property owners prefer to wait until a problem becomes impossible to ignore before they act, of course, but there are a few good reasons as to why you should not do this. The dangers of waiting too long are very simple. The longer you wait to fix foundation issues, the more likely they are to grow and spread to other parts of your home. This can lead to all forms of secondary and tertiary damage like dampness, wood rot, and mold formation. All these issues present unique dangers to your health and home.
The benefits of acting as soon as you see signs of foundation damage, of course, are just as simple and powerful as the drawbacks of waiting too long. If you deal with foundation damage as soon as you see it, then you will make the process of repair much simpler and far less expensive. In fact, the cost of repairs will get more and more expensive over a very short period of time. It will also prevent the formation of secondary issues (for example, the formation of mold, which could be harmful to your health and wellbeing). There is also a lower chance that you will need serious cosmetic repair if you act quickly.
Soil washout and erosion are serious issues that commonly impact many properties across Pittsburgh, PA, because of the loam and limestone soils that are so common in this area. These soils are far less water reactive than expansive soils, which are made up of absorbent materials like clay and have excellent drainage. This is good for your home, on the whole, of course, but the main downside is that they are less cohesive than expansive soils. This means that they are more vulnerable to erosion and washout. These are processes of soil displacement and movement that primarily impact weak or loose soils, but when the weather is extreme, they can impact even healthy and robust soils.
Erosion is a process of soil displacement that is primarily driven by wind and that is exacerbated by extreme dehydration. As such, erosion is most likely in the summer months and will impact only the topsoil. The most common signs of erosion are the formation of craters, the formation of gaps underneath the edges of concrete slabs and sidewalks, exposed root tops, and the formation of bald spots in your lawn. The limited nature of this process, however, means that it is far less likely to cause widespread damage to your home.
Soil washout, by contrast, can take effect from both above and below the surface of the soil and is caused by saturation and flooding. Unlike expansive soils, loam-based and chalky soils do not absorb water and swell. They allow it to drain away, and when their drainage capacity runs out, they can start to become loose and be carried away by the water as it seeks a new path. This is very dangerous, as it can cause voids underneath surfaces and structures around your property. This, in turn, can lead to sinking concrete slabs and foundation damage.
While this is a simple question, the answer can be complex. To keep it short and sweet: most forms of mold are benign, if not exactly healthy to have in your home, but a small number of mold species are toxic. Identifying those types of molds that are actively dangerous can be difficult, however, because mold and fungal growths come in thousands of species. The fungal growths that occur as a result of wood rot, for example, can look similar to white forms of mold but are generally not harmful to humans unless ingested (though they will wreak havoc on your home).
The type of mold that you should be most worried about, however, is black mold. Black mold is highly toxic to humans and animals; it can cause serious side effects even when the level of exposure is small. Black mold can cause side effects such as rashes, skin irritation, infections, dizziness, breathlessness, respiratory issues, and, in some very serious cases, seizures. More serious side effects are rare, of course, and tend to only occur after prolonged exposure… unless there are underlying issues.
As is so often the case, those who are already vulnerable are at the most risk from exposure to any kind of mold but particularly when exposed to black mold in any serious or prolonged capacity. Those most at risk are the elderly, very young children, those who have underlying respiratory issues such as asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema, and those who have impaired immune systems. While exposure to black mold can be unpleasant and debilitating for anyone in large doses, even a small amount of exposure can be lethal to people who have underlying conditions. That makes it necessary to seek out waterproofing measures that can protect your home from falling victim to this kind of infestation.