You may wonder about how to fix a bowed garage wall – whether it’s your home, someone else’s, or one you’re considering buying. Consider the time, effort, and money you’ll spend on it. Also, it’s essential to be aware of what it implies about the house itself! Luckily, a bowed garage wall isn’t too hard to fix; you just need some free time and a few supplies!
There are a couple of things you can do to prevent this from happening again that don’t take too much time or effort. If you’re considering buying a house with this issue or want to see how to fix it, read on to know what you need to do!
- 1 Welder
- 1 8″ x 8″ steel plate
- 1 Standard ” steel rod (with a ” diameter)
- 1 Threaded ” steel rod
- Material to backfill with (could use soil from digging hole, sand, or clay)
- ” x ” steel washer and bolt
What to Do
Tips Before Starting
If you choose to repair your bowed garage wall yourself, the project should take about two days, on average. This, of course, is assuming you have a standard garage size that falls around 8’x20’.
Your project should cost between $200 to $1000 to fix. The total cost will depend on:
- The size of the wall
- What equipment you own already.
Note: The cost of rentals isn’t too bad; just consider you will need to rent the equipment for about two days. If you dig on the first day and rent the welding machine on the second day, you could cut costs there, too.
The hardest or more labor-intensive part of your project is the digging. So you may want to recruit help for this part – especially if you’re pressed for time.
The rest is basically a one-person or parent/teen type of job.
It’s a pretty simple fix. You just have to:
- Then backfill again
Voila! You’re finished!
- First, you need to dig a trench to allow space for the bowing.
You can dig this right next to the wall. Make sure the trench is narrow. You could even hand dig this, as it would prevent any accidental wear on the garage from the backhoe. In fact, using a backhoe could cause more damage.
- Dig another trench perpendicular to the first.
Make sure this is forming a cross with the previous trench. Make sure this and the first trench are both as deep as the center of the bow itself.
- Weld an 8” x 8” steel plate to an 8” steel rod.
You only need to weld the steel plate to one end of the steel rod. Make sure the rod has a diameter of ¾” as well. For this step, you’ll need to get some materials. You can rent a welder to cut down on cost.
- Next, weld about 2 inches of another rod to the other end of the 8-inch rod.
Make sure this rod is also ¾” I diameter, too. This rod should also be threaded.
- At the center of the wall’s bow, drill a hole in the block wall.
- Put the threaded part of the rod through the hole in the wall.
This should be done from the exterior or outside of the wall. There should be just enough of the threaded part of the rod that goes on the inside to where you can put a steel washer and nut.
- Lay the welded rods in the trench. Backfill, then tamp.
When you complete this step, it’s important not to fill the trench directly next to the basement wall.
- On the inside of the garage, tighten the nuts.
This step gives tension to the rod apparatus. By the time you’re finished with this step, the garage wall should straighten up, as it gives weight to it.
- Leave the rods, washers, and nuts where they are. Backfill again.
That’s it! Again, make sure not to backfill next to the basement wall in step 7. As you can see, this would prevent you from getting to the actual straightening part in step 8. You can seal it all in step 9 when you finish by backfilling again.
Why Garage Walls Get Bowed
The garage wall bows as the weight of the roof pushes down on the top of the walls. The ends of the rafters push the wall outwards due to the triangle shape of the roof. Gravity combines forces with the weight of the roof’s deck and the shingles. This causes the rafters to get pushed on even more.
Bowing also happens when the structure was poorly constructed, to begin with.
Two other factors below the garage can also add to the bowed walls. These add a lot of pressure on the soil and under the garage:
- Soil Compaction
- Poor Drainage
These factors would probably get noticed in a home inspection before you buy the house. However, if it was missed or disregarded, you can’t altogether prevent anything unless you rebuild your garage.
You can alleviate the damage caused by excessive rainfall by creating a better drainage system
Another Contributor: Poor Drainage
As drainage gets worse, the structure becomes even weaker and slowly deteriorates any surrounding infrastructure.
You can eliminate this issue, however, by correcting the draining system you have.
All you have to do is build a creek bed that will redirect where the water goes. This new “creek bed” is best placed in a spot in your yard where the drainage is lower the rest of the ground
Preventative Measures & General Maintenance
Perform Your Own Inspection
Perform your own mini inspection to ensure everything is:
- In the right place
Check the roller brackets and bolts on the door that rolls down.
Also, check the hardware itself as well as the structure of the garage.
Check the support beams. Make sure nothing could be pushing the beams down or has the potential to put pressure on the roof, such as big trees.
Replace the Weatherstrip
The weatherstrip is the rubber seal on the bottom of your garage door. It may be old or cracked, and so every time it rains, water seeps into your garage.
It also allows water on the inner walls and makes them weaker – especially if you live in an area prone to flooding. In fact, fixing the drainage before your next flood is probably your best bet.
Weatherstripping is easy to find and even easier to install.
You can get it at any local hardware store and replace it as soon as you get home. All you have to do is cut it and place it into the grooves inside the door.
It already comes with the adhesive, so all you need is the weatherstripping and a pair of scissors.
Take Care of Your Garage Door
The door itself does need to be examined to check for underlying issues.
Check for water damage inside and out. Water damage could warp the door and weaken the structure of the garage wall.
See if you need to make some changes to prevent this issue in the future.
Should You Buy a Home With This Problem
Perhaps this is an issue you noticed when looking at a house, or maybe a home inspector mentioned the problem to you.
If you are considering repairs before you buy a house (perhaps you fix up houses), there may be more going on behind the scenes than you know.
Typically when the garage walls are bowed, it implies a lot about the house—namely structural or foundational issues.
Most people freak out at the idea of rebuilding the whole house’s structure, as it takes a lot of time, effort, and money.
However, there are more things to consider because it could be a good thing instead! If you’re interested in a home but scared away from the bowed garage or accompanied structural issues, maybe you should read below and reconsider!
What You Should Know
Structural issues are a pain. But they don’t have to be a dealbreaker.
Most people shy away as soon as they hear about these sorts of issues, but it might not be as scary as it sounds.
Especially if you flip homes, you could significantly increase the value of a house people aren’t buying. You could also get an outstanding deal on it since people aren’t going to want it as much!
There are plenty of factors you need to consider, as this issue doesn’t really have a yes or no.
It largely depends on your specific situation:
- Consider how much it will cost to fix the issues, based on the damage.
- Factor in how much the house will cost.
- Consider whether you want or need the home after thinking through all of those factors.
There may be other houses available with similar features that don’t have this issue!
How Much Does it Cost to Fix the Foundation of a House?
The cost depends on the issue and how much damage there is.
If the only issue is a bowed garage wall, it would be a lot less expensive to fix that than if an inspector determines the entire house has structural problems.
Cracks can cost as little as $500, but it could range from $5,000 to $10,000. To replace the entire foundation, you may even reach the 100 grand mark.
If you’re looking to make a profit through home renovations, this would likely leave you in debt rather than making a profit.
Unless you’re a professional general contractor, you won’t know the specific cost for this type of project, so determining an estimate would be best left to the professionals.
Ask for an approximate cost from the home inspector, as they likely know enough about home repairs to give you a brief idea. However, the best thing to do is ask a contractor who deals with this type of thing, as he should have more experience with this specific project.
Will Fixing the Foundation Affect Value?
You can bring the value of your project up by about 10%-15% approximately, assuming the damage isn’t so bad that you need to rework the entire house. Know how much it will cost first to fix, then how much it would affect the values to assess potential net profit. To get a general estimate for your market, you could speak to a contractor and a realtor, respectively.
Just consider that face value, because it may seem like you would make a profit. But, when it’s time to sell, you have to inform potential buyers that there was previous damage, despite the fact you fixed it.
Since structural issues are something people don’t like to hear, they may bargain for a better price.
How to Know There are Issues
If you are simply looking at houses without getting a full inspection for every single property, you can first look and notice some things for yourself.
Start by looking at the foundation itself, then look for signs of a poor foundation.
Anything that’s leaning or doesn’t appear straight is likely on a poor foundation. Of course, a bowed garage wall is a notable sign, especially if it’s attached to the rest of the house.
There are even some painfully obvious signs, too.
Cracks in the foundation itself are the most common.
Little cracks are expected, as things shift and change a little over time. However, you’re looking for long cracks all the way down or a lot of cracks that give an uneven texture.
You could also see structural damage through things that don’t fit properly, which implies they have moved or changed from an inconsistent structure.
The worse the foundation, the more the house shifts. So, if you see doors that don’t close all the way or might be hard to open and close, this could be a sign of foundational damage.
The same applies to windows.
Anything leaning is also a tell.
A house should be straight and strong. Anything caving in or a little off is not good.
Check that the outside is stable and not tilted, and maybe get a second opinion if you think you could be right, since trying to eyeball it isn’t an exact science.
Cracks on the driveway are a hint, but not a surefire sign.
If you pair driveway cracks with some in the flooring or on the walls, you may be on to something. At meeting points between the walls – especially near the ceiling – cracks are never a good sign.
You could look in the basement, at both support beams and to make sure it’s dry with no puddles of water or water damage.
What To Do About It
If you decide this home is for you, but confirm there is structural damage, there are a few hacks that will make your life a lot smoother.
The best thing to do is do your research about what exact costs you’re looking at and keep facts and figures with you. You don’t want to get taken advantage of.
There are also some specific actions you could take in the process of buying.
Get a Lower Price
Luckily, you have the upper hand a little bit.
You gain leverage in a home buying situation if you know what potential buyers are thinking as well. The price will likely go down as few people want to deal with the work of fixing a home’s structure.
When negotiating, bring up getting a lower price for this issue or maybe getting some repair credit.
You could also recruit a real estate agent. They can negotiate on your behalf and get some form of credit or discount. They also have extensive knowledge about who can help and how much they will charge – all while getting everything at a lower price. Basically, they know what to say and how to help.
How to Negotiate + What To Ask For
Assuming you don’t decide to get a realtor to help you, you need to know what you can get and what to ask for.
Make sure you ensure the repairs are showing in the cost of the house unless you and the homeowner negotiate a repair credit.
A credit amount should be based on what contractors say you need, not what the homeowner tells you.
One thing you should not do is allow the homeowner or seller to repair it themselves.
Not everyone has the best intentions, and they may do whatever’s cheapest to get the bare minimum done that appears to have fixed the house.
Make sure you get someone who does a proper job and has good reviews. Otherwise, you may have to get it done again.
Word of mouth is best when looking for referrals, so ask around when getting it fixed!
Ask for An Inspection Contingency
Structural issues or not, when buying a house – ask for an inspection contingency.
You could take the home without it, but there’s a considerable risk involved. Especially if you’re trying to make money, and the next person who comes along finds something.
It’s always better to be thorough in these situations. While you should generally ask for an inspection, hearing about foundation issues means you should be even more careful.
You want to make sure you know what you’re spending your money on.
So, now you know how to fix a bowed garage. You know how to prevent the issue, and you know what causes it. You also know you could buy a house with this issue, or you could go for a fixed-up house with no problems.
It depends on what you’re trying to get out of the house. However, in these situations, it’s best to consult the experts – contractors, realtors, and inspectors to get the most informed decision.
On top of this, a little common sense goes a long way!