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Removing Foundation Form Ties

mla12 | Posted in General Questions on

Beginning work on crawlspace encapsulation.

I removed a bunch of the form ties today and plan to patch the holes. But there are some I’m having no luck with and not sure what the right approach is.

Photos attached. There are a ton of these metal bars right at the footer and they’re thick. I tried hitting them back and forth but I don’t think they’re going to break off.

Suggestions? Grinder?


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  1. brian_wiley | | #1

    I had a good chuckle when I saw this question, only because I had the exact same question about 3 months ago. After speaking with an older contractor, my understanding is that they were placed in the footing and then later connected to the temporary plywood wall forms.

    I‘m sure a grinder would work, but I used a pair of electric shears to trim them down to within about an inch, then folded them over and pounded them flat against the footing. Any other method I tried left really sharp edges that looked like they’d tear the liner.

    1. mla12 | | #3

      Ha, too funny. Following in your footsteps. Guess I need to read all your Q&As first...


  2. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #2

    If you bend them back and forth with a big pair of pliers held tight to the wall (you want the bending point to be at the surface of the concrete and a bit below), the metal should break slightly below the surface of the concrete. Clean up whatever is left with an angle grinder if you need a flat/smooth surface.

    I would use a large pair of channel locks to do the bending, grabbing the metal with the tip of the pliers as close to the surface of the concrete as possible and the handles sticking out perpendicular to the surface of the wall. A small angle grinder will make quick work of whatever is left, or could cut them off completely if the "bend and break" doesn't work.


    1. mla12 | | #4

      I could barely budge them with pliers. They're pretty thick. I saw youtube videos of guys hitting them back and forth, and those seem very different.

      I'll try the grinder. Thanks.

  3. josh_in_mn | | #5

    You need a LARGE pair of channel locks:

    1. mla12 | | #7

      Woah, gotcha. Yeah, I was not using *those*. Will give it a shot, thanks.

  4. Expert Member
    NICK KEENAN | | #6

    I find a piece of 3/8" pipe works better than pliers, it can't slip off.

    I had to deal with some form ties, I used large bolt cutters and then an angle grinder to smooth them off. The cut piece tended to shoot across the room when cut with the bolt cutters so wear eye protection and stand off to one side.

    1. mla12 | | #8

      Will do, thanks.

  5. Andy_ | | #9

    Those aren't the kind of form ties that just snap off. If you really need to get rid of them, (and if you don' then I'd just leave them) then the grinder is probably your best bet. Be careful of what materials are around you as the sparks start to fly.

    1. mla12 | | #10

      Thanks, Andy. Just worried about eventual water intrusion.
      Will definitely think about the fire risk if I try the grinder, thanks.

  6. 1869farmhouse | | #11

    The humble angle grinder is the best 15 dollar addition to the tool chest a person can make imho!

    I save the name brand tools for where they matter, if you don’t have one already go pick up the cheapest one your local store offers. Guarantee you’ll find a half dozen more uses for it inside the year.

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