basement wall mortar rot

Foundation repair methods

Foundation repair methods

There are different foundation repair methods used depending on your foundation problem.  Once you determine if you have bowing basement walls, a settling foundation, a shifting foundation or your basement walls are deteriorating (or some combination of the aforementioned) you can then explore the method that fits your problem.

settling foundation requiring foundation repair methods

settling foundation can cause step cracks

Settling foundations occur due to poor soil conditions underneath the foundation footing.  The weight of the structure causes the footing to crack allowing the foundation to settle / sink down into the poor / soft soil.  this can cause a ripple effect of cracking in walls above in living areas, doors that rub or won’t close and floors that slope.  Installing piers underneath the footing and driving down into solid substrate will stop settling and can even lift the structure back into original position.  Our method of installing concentrically loaded foundation piers comes with an engineer’s certification and lifetime guarantee.

Concentrically loaded foundation piers are installed directly under the wall being lifted and use the foundation as resistance to push the pier into the ground.  Other methods such as helical piers or offset piers are more limited and are nut installed directly underneath the structure.

Settling cracks in basement walls can be in a stair step pattern or almost straight vertical cracks that are open wider at top and narrow towards the floor.


mortar rotting to point of wall shifting & near collapse requiring foundation repair methods

mortar rotting to point of wall shifting & near collapse

If your basement wall has rotted mortar joints and blocks are shifting then most likely it is a matter of time before a major problem or collapse occurs.  Walls with mortar rot are weak from the inside so applying foundation repair methods to the wall will not ensure a stable foundation.  In that case foundation replacement may be warranted.





bowing basement wall requiring foundation repair methods

bowing basement walls with horizontal cracks that are open due to soil pressure

If you have bowing basement walls with open horizontal cracks you may be able to stabilize it from further movement or even straighten it back into original position.  Today’s latest foundation repair method for bowing basement walls is carbon fiber mesh “straps” which are embedded into the face of your foundation walls. Fortress Stabilization has developed a system made of both carbon fiber and kevlar meshed together giving them the ultimate in tensile and shear strength. These straps are smooth to the wall and paintable making them barely noticeable. Once installed your wall becomes stronger than it was originally and will have a lifetime structural guarantee.

To properly straighten bowing basement walls you must first excavate the soil away from the outside.  Once the soil is removed and the soil pressure is relieved the wall can be pushed back into position.  If the cracks have been filled in with mortar or caulking then the wall will only go back as far as the crack will close.  So be weary of foundation repair contractors who want to install clamps through your wall to the dirt outside (wall anchor) without digging it and tell you they can crank it back into position… especially if there are no open cracks!

After the walls are restored to their best position, then the stabilization straps must be applied to the face of the basement wall inside to prevent them from opening right back up.  The wall is then waterproofed and back filled with gravel to protect it from further pressure or damage.

Some foundations require a combination of foundation repair methods or replacement to solve all the issues.  To learn even more contact Pioneer Basement Solutions and have one of our foundation experts evaluate your specific foundation needs with you.  We offer a straight forward evaluation with straight forward pricing and no games or gimmicks.  Established in 1979, Pioneer is the only foundation repair contractor in business with a perfect spotless record since day one because we always treat our customer the way we want to be treated.

get-arrow  Contact Pioneer today for an ion person review of the foundation repair methods available for your basement!

bowing basement wall

Basement foundation repair

Basement foundation repair

We have seen an increase in customers searching for basement foundation repair recently due to foundation settling, basement walls bowing and shifting and other foundation problems.

There are different problems that would dictate different solutions so first we’ll review the three solutions and then take a look at what each solutions is designed to fix. First you have foundation stabilization, second foundation piering and lastly foundation replacement.

Foundation stabilization is basement foundation repair that stops bowing basement walls from bowing further and can even involve straightening bowing basement walls.  If you see horizontal cracks in your basement wall or walls and these cracks are open then you have bowing basement walls, foundation movement that is causing the wall to push into the basement along the crack. bowed basement wallThe cause of this problem could be one of many different possibilities.  The builder may have back filled the soil too quickly causing a minor crack that worsened over many years.  A sloping patio or driveway could allow water to get to the wall causing the soil to expand and thus causing the crack, roof water overflowing at the foundation can cause soil to expand creating pressure enough to crack the basement wall.  A heavy freeze can cause soil to expand and develop a crack in the foundation that worsens over time…and so on.

To straighten the bowing basement wall it needs to be excavated, removing the soil from along the foundation.  This in itself may cause the wall to relax back into place, or a system of jacks can push the  wall back into place.  The variable is if the crack was filled in.  If so, it can only close as much as the crack is open so a filled in crack will not allow the basement wall to be straightened.

You do not have to straighten a bowing basement wall if it is less than two inches out of plumb in order to permanently stabilize the foundation.  Fortress Stabilization products which are a mesh of carbon fiber and Kevlar can be applied to the basement wall to lock it into place.  This product causes tension on the face of the wall which diffuses soil pressure and the wall will not move further.  This is a permanent solution to bowing basement walls. Learn more here.


Foundation piering is basement foundation repair that stops a foundation that is settling or sinking in the soil underneath.  If you see vertical cracks that are open at the top and get tighter at the bottom of the foundation wall, or cracks that are in a stair step pattern you may have a settling foundation that needs piering to corr ct the problem.

Foundation settling

A sinking home is actually a very common structural problem which is seen on homes in nearly all areas of the country. The problem can be attributed to poor soil conditions around the home, or from improper building techniques being used during the time when the structure was being built. Regardless of the cause of the issue, it is something that must be taken care of immediately before additional damage is done to the structural integrity of the home.

To correct the problem of a settling foundation we install foundation piering which is pushed deep within the earth into bedrock or stable, load-bearing strata. The pier will be able to stabilize the foundation and in many cases, level, and lift the home back up to where it needs to be. The Stabil-Loc piering system is installed directly underneath of the footings for direct load transfer unlike other piering systems which are helical or offset next to the footings. Learn more here.

basement wall sheering

Bottom of wall has broken off and is sliding out of place due to decay

Foundation replacement is required when basement walls are deteriorated to the point that they are no longer structural, or when the basement wall has bowed in more than two inches and not a candidate for straightening, or when the foundation has broken off along a mortar joint and is sliding out of place, also known as sheering.

Foundation replacement involves a full excavation of the area, removing the foundation wall, ensuring the original footings are solid or replacing them if needed and rebuilding the basement wall with new cement block.  New waterproofing and drainage are installed to ensure the new structure will last.  To learn more about foundation replacement click here.






This is a basic overview of the three types of basement foundation repair available.  If you are experiencing basement foundation problems consult with a reputable professional basement foundation contractor who is full service offering all types of solutions.  Many contractors offer one solution and train sales people to sell their “system”. Not all problems can be solved with a one size fits all approach.

get-arrowContact Pioneer Basement Solutions today for a free, no pressure consultation.  A thorough inspection of your specific issue(s) will be conducted and a straight forward review of your options given.  We do not practice pricing games or sales tactics.  Just  one fair price will be given for the solution you feel most comfortable with and no pressure for a decision on the first visit.  At Pioneer we treat our potential customers the way we want to be treated and we don’t like pushy salespeople which is why we do not use them.


Contact us today to learn more about basement foundation repair for your home by clicking the “get in touch” icon above.



How to straighten bowing basement walls

How to straighten bowing basement walls

Many people lately have been asking me how to straighten bowing basement walls. Let’s start by looking at what causes bowing basement walls.  There are a few likely causes for the horizontal cracks that lead to a basement wall bowing in.

One is right after construction of the foundation the contractor could have put the dirt back around the basement walls too soon, too fast or without properly bracing the walls first causing a hairline fracture.  As this dirt piles up against the foundation it creates pressure against it.  When rains come or snow melts the settling soil gets heavier and expands creating even more pressure and can cause minor movement to major issues with these cracks.  It can take several years or even decades for these cracks to become structural concerns.  Or one simple event.

Another possibility is heavy machinery along the foundation.  Trucks and equipment driving next to the foundation push the soil downward and can cause pressure against the foundation resulting in cracks.

Negative grade of the soil, driveways and patios against the foundation can allow water to run towards the foundation causing major swelling of the soil and decay of the foundation resulting in weak points cracking and bowing in.

Large trees too close to the foundation can cause all kinds of problems including large root structures pushing against the foundation casing horizontal cracks that bow in over time.

So back to how to straighten bowing basement walls.  First you should eliminate any obvious contributing factors such as the ones mentioned above to prevent future issues. To properly straighten a wall you must excavate the soil away from it on the outside relieving the pressure and giving the wall the room it needs to go back into proper position.  I hear people asking me about wall anchors and they have been told the wall anchor will straighten the wall without excavation.  They usually have a perplexed look as they even say it and I tell them their suspicions are right on.  You cant push a wall back into place against the soil and straighten it up which is why wall anchor installers never guarantee the wall will be straightened at all. Wall anchors are giant clamps that clamp the wall to the dirt outside.  As the dirt moves through normal expansion and contraction the homeowners are to adjust the giant bolts coming through the wall to be sure they have correct tension.  I have seen these anchors cause wavy walls / indentations due to the focus points of the clamps…not good.

So back to the proper technique.  After the soil is removed a system of jacks and brackets can push a wall back into place all at once.  NOTE…you cant straighten a wall back to original position that has had the open crack filled in.  These fillers stop the wall from closing back up.

Once the walls have achieved the best possible position you must stabilize the wall to be sure it doesn’t open back up after the soil is put back.  We use Fortress Stabilization straps for a lifetime structural guarantee, a permanent solution that doesn’t need maintenance.

All that being said there are other factors such as foundation material type and condition of the mortar joints which may limit the possibility to straighten your foundation etc… We offer a no obligation no sales pressure consultation and can evaluate your specific needs fitting you to the best possible options.  We are not a one size fits all company, we offer all solutions.

Contact us today to learn more about how to straighten bowing basement walls

Foundation repair for shifting and bowing foundation

Foundation Repair for Sifting and Bowing Foundation

basement wall crack need foundation repair

Basement wall cracks led to need for foundation repair


I recently visited a home in Bath, OH to look at some wall cracks and bowing in need of foundation repair for shifting and bowing foundation.  The homeowner found us online and were impressed with the Fortress Stabilization product that we install on bowing basement walls. There were some obvious crack that were at eye level and after some demo of built in cabinets we found a major shift in another basement wall at the bottom of some typical looking settling / stair step cracks.  There were some signs of mud coming in which can be an indication of a large crack or shift allowing water to leak in and pull soil with it.

Because the shift was along the bottom of the wall and there were multiple cracks as well, this basement wall needed to be replaced.  When the bottom row either bows in or the wall above it has shifted off of it the structural integrity of the foundation is gone and the most typical foundation repair methods are not suitable for this problem.  We excavated the wall to the bottom of the footer (a footer is like a cement sidewalk that the wall is built on), made the appropriate temporary supports in the basement and then removed the basement wall.  Once removed we build a new basement wall tied in to the rest of the foundation.  The new foundation wall is then waterproofed using our waterproofing membrane system and new PVC drains with plenty of gravel before back filling the soil to a nice grade away from the home.

Another wall in the home was bowing in at a horizontal crack about eye level.  It was well within the parameters to be saved so we install the Fortress Stabilization reinforced carbon fiber straps for a lifetime guarantee against structural issues.  Before installation we excavated the wall on the outside so we could also patch up cracks and seal the foundation from the outside to prevent any water from getting into the basement wall.

interior basement waterproofing system

Interior basement waterproofing system is guaranteed for life!

Two other walls in the home were waterproofed with our interior basement waterproofing system and all drains were connected to a sump pump system to drain and pump the water away from the home keeping it dry and again, a lifetime guarantee is given against water seepage into the basement.

In summary we reviewed all basement waterproofing and foundation problems in the home and installed a multi faceted solution to address each problem once and for all.  We do not install patented systems that are “one size fits all”, instead we take the approach of identifying the cause of water seepage and foundation problems and recommend the solution that will be the best fit for each specific home.

For a free consultation (for homeowners only) click here: get-arrow and we will help you determine the foundation repair solution that best suits your specific basement problems.

Repair bowed basement walls

Repair bowed basement walls

If you are wondering how to repair bowed basement walls you are likely considering one or two of the following options for your  foundation fix: wall anchors or carbon fiber foundation reinforcement.

repair bowed basement walls

The older technique of installing a wall anchor involves a large bolt that goes through your foundation mounted to a plate inside and a fixed point outside in the soil.  This works like a giant clamp holding the bowed basement walls to the dirt outside.  You will not be able to finish your basement with this type of foundation repair because it will need routine maintenance to keep the bolts / wall anchors tight due to expanding and contracting soils.  Another downside is the clamps only hold the areas where the plates are installed in the wall, an area about 1 x 2 feet ever six feet apart.  This technique if used to try to straighten the walls will create a wavy effect due to the fact the point being moved is just behind the wall anchor plate.

The most current technology in foundation repair is the carbon fiber meshed with kevlar strap system.  With this system the engineered straps are embedded into the face of the foundation with an epoxy from the floor to the top of the foundation wall.  Once cured, these straps do not stretch or tear and they create a web effect on the  bowed basement walls to lock them in place permanently.

The best way to straighten bowed basement walls is full excavation to remove all pressure from the wall.  The wall will then need to be stabilized since it has fractures (thus the bowed basement walls) to ensure the walls to not simply return to their bowed state or worse.  Using the carbon fiber and Kevlar mesh straps in this scenario is best case since they allow for no movement.

For more information or guidance in how to repair bowed basement walls in the Northeast Ohio area such as Akron, Canton, Medina, Kent, Cuyahoga Falls etc… Call Pioneer Basement Solutions at 1-877-321-4889.


How do you know when you need foundation replacement?

I looked at two foundations today where the homeowners had concern that it was time to replace a basement wall or two. The question is how do I know if it can be stabilized or if it is time to replace the foundation / basement wall… what dictates foundation replacement?

There are several types of foundation cracks and different concerns with each. You can have bowing basement walls as a result of a horizontal crack…walls that belly in towards the middle.  These bowing basement walls are more prone to open up and come in as a result of the hinge type of nature of the basement wall crack.  The expanding and contracting soil outside develops pressure against the basement wall that pushes in towards the basement or relaxes it back through dry conditions.

There are cracks that are what we call a vertical tear, cracks that go in a stair stem pattern, or simply straight down towards the floor through the basement wall.  These are settling cracks that occur due the footer below having a crack in it and actually sinking down.  This activity causes the wall crack or separation at the mortar joints in a stair step fashion.

And there can be cracks where a row of block has slid off of the row below it (shear movement). This is typical if the second row up since the floor holds the bottom row in place.

You typically need a rebuild of foundation / foundation replacement when the bottom two rows have separated from each other, or when the bottom row seems to kick or tilt inwards towards the floor.

bottom row of block buckled

bottom row of block buckled

If the bottom row appears to be kicked in or bowing, it can be an indication that there is no footer.  This is more common with clay based basement wall foundations.  In this scenario dirt has washed away from below, mortar has rotted from between the blocks and the basement wall has bowed in as a result.

Again, there are several scenarios and factors so please give us a call for a free consultation with a foundation expert to help inform and guide you towards the best possible solution for your basement foundation problems.