foundation repair methods review

Foundation Repair Methods Review

Foundation Repair Methods Review

If you have noticed a wall in your basement bowing in, basement wall cracks, or a shifting foundation, you are probably starting your foundation repair methods review. There are various reasons why a foundation may begin to settle or crack.  Poor soil conditions, improper maintenance, and/or poor footing may all be factors.   Consider the following information.

Foundation Reinforcement

If you have a basement wall that is bowing in with open horizontal cracks, you may be able to stabilize it from further movement or even straighten it back into its original position.  Carbon fiber mesh straps can be utilized for this purpose.  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.

Furthermore, excavation may also be required to remove the weight from the wall before the straps are applied.  This removes the pressure from the soil on the outside of the house so that the wall can be straightened back into position.

Foundation Repair methods review for Bowing Wall

Bowing Basement Wall

Structural Piering

If the foundation is sinking and settling due to poor soil conditions, structural piers may be the best option.  The Stabil-Loc Foundation Pier System is installed directly under the concrete or mason wall that needs to be lifted or stabilized. Piers are driven deep within the earth into bedrock or stable, load-bearing strata which is verifiable with load-testing. As the home is lifted, a mechanism allows the part of the piering system under the footer to be rotated.  This prevents the footer from breaking, which is a feature not found anywhere else. Installation can be done quickly, with minimal excavation required. This system is designed to restabilize the sinking structure by shifting the weight of the home off of the foundation and onto the piers.  This redirects the load to more reliable earth layers underground.

Foundation repair options piers

Structural Piers

Foundation Replacement

If severe mortar rot is occurring or if the blocks are shifting, completely replacing the foundation may be the best solution.  A single foundation wall can be replaced if it is the only area that is affected, or the entire foundation can be removed and rebuilt.  There are many factors to take into consideration when deciding whether or not to replace a foundation wall.

How to Choose the Best Foundation Repair Option

So after this basic foundation repair methods review, are you starting to get an idea which of these methods would be best for your foundation issues?  Just as important as the method is the foundation repair contractor. How do you know which contractor to choose?  Keep in mind that there are various kinds of foundation issues, therefore, a company must be able to offer various solutions.  A single solution will not work for every foundation problem.  Make sure your foundation repair contractor can offer a specific solution to fit your unique problem.

We perform each of the above mentioned foundation repair options all over northeast Ohio, including the following areas:

Stark County, including Canton, Massillon, North Canton, Alliance, and Louisville.

Summit County, including Akron, Stow, Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, and Barberton.

Portage County, including Kent, Ravenna, Rootstown, Streetsboro, and Atwater.

Wayne County, including Wooster, Orrville, and Dalton.

Carroll County, including Carrollton, Minerva, Delroy, and Malvern.

Tuscarawas County, including New Philadelphia, Dover, and Sugar Creek.

For a complete list of our service area click here.

Pioneer Basement Solutions has Certified Structural Evaluators on staff.  We also work closely with various local structural engineers.  Contact us for an evaluation of your basement and a professional foundation repair methods review.

basement wall repair

Basement Wall Repair

Basement Wall Repair

How do you know what the best basement wall repair is for your basement?  There are several types of foundation repair methods available and each is designed to solve a specific issue. There are basement walls that are tipping in at the top and basement walls that are bowing in along a horizontal crack.  Then there are foundations that are crumbling or have severe mortar rot.  Some basements have settling issues which result in vertical cracks in basement walls or stair step cracking in the walls.  And then there are basement walls that have a sheer break in them resulting in the wall sliding inwards along the break.

Interviewing foundation repair companies can add to the confusion because you may get differing proposals.  The reason this may happen is due the numerous foundation repair companies that hire and train salespeople to sell a specific product or method.  Foundation repair contractors that are part of a national chain or franchise will only propose (quote) the solutions they have contractual agreements to sell.  These contractors often present many solutions and go through a sales process to bring you to a conclusion that the one product they install is the one you need.  So look for locally owned and operated foundation repair contractors who can not only offer different solutions but also install any of them when you need basement wall repair.

bowing basement wall needing basement wall repair

Bowing basement walls

basement wall sheering

Basement wall shifting off base / sheering

basement wall collapse

Basement wall collapse

basement wall mortar rot

Basement wall with mortar rotting and block decaying

As a rule of thumb, basement walls that are bowing in can be reinforced to prevent further movement.  Note: up to 2″ of inward bowing or less is required, anything beyond that and your wall is no longer structurally sound and should be replaced. Some basement walls can be straightened, but only if there are open cracks that have never been filled in.  Continuing the thought of straightening bowing basement walls, to do it properly you must excavate the soil away on the outside first to relieve the pressure allowing the wall to go back to its best position.  Walls that have the cracks caulked or filled in will not straighten up.  The filler binds the joint and prevents the crack that opened from closing back up which is what straightening the wall is actually doing.

Back to reinforcing bowing basement walls.  Steel I beams as a basement wall repair method can be used.  Steel I beams are to be buried below the floor and cemented in at the bottom and properly attached to the wood structure above.  In this scenario the floor below and the wood structure above are actually holding the I beam in place.  Steel beams are straight so they only touch the wall where it is bowed out.  The gaps at top and bottom between the wall and beam should be filled in to prevent the wall from shifting behind the beam.  Downsides are steel beams are unsightly, can rust, and still can flex.  Also if the soil conditions outside push on the wall it can cause the beam to put pressure on the wood structure causing it to shift or twist.

The latest basement wall repair method for bowing basement walls is carbon fiber mesh “straps” which are embedded into the face of your foundation walls. And the latest of those are made by Fortress Stabilization who 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.  Carbon fiber / Kevlar mesh straps are embedded into the face of the wall with a two part epoxy becoming part of the structure.  How this method works is that the straps are inflexible / do not stretch so they create tension on the wall preventing movement.  Soil pressure outside is diffused and the wall is permanently stabilized.

If your basement wall has a sheer, meaning a row of block has slid inward off of the row below it a half inch or more, it needs to be replaced.  Some basement walls with a sheer less than a half inch can be stabilized with steel beams to prevent further movement but for the most part this is an indication of severe drainage problems resulting in water build up at the bottom of the basement wall outside.  This build up results in the foundation and or mortar rotting out, becoming weak, and resulting in the shift.  Often times this results in dirt and/or mud coming into the basement through the broken areas.

Tipping basement walls are a result of them not being well attached to the structure above during construction.  This is a wall that is straight from bottom to top but leaning inward at the top.  This is different from bowing as you will not see a horizontal crack that is opened up.  Fixing tipping basement walls involves first removing the soil outside to relieve pressure.  Then a system of steel beams and screws / jacks are used to slowly push the wall back into its best possible position.  The steel beams can be left in place to hold the wall from further movement or other methods can be used to secure the structure above to the foundation to prevent movement.

Obviously if you have a collapsed basement wall, it would need full replacement, enough said.

Crumbling and rotting foundations occur due to the original waterproofing seal failing, allowing water into the basement wall.  In many cases if this is caught early enough the wall can be excavated, repaired, reinforced, waterproofed, and ultimately saved.  The cost of going through all of that may be getting very close to replacing the basement wall and some walls with rot and decay should simply be replaced.

Settling foundations are those that are sinking into poor soil conditions.  Signs of a sinking foundation include stair step cracks, vertical cracks, and issues in the living space above such as cracked walls, ceilings, and doors that do not close properly.  To stop a settling foundation it requires installing reinforcement below the foundation installed into solid substrate.  This method is often called underpinning or piering.  We favor the Stabil-Loc Foundation Piering System. Its patent pending load bearing design installs directly under the wall being lifted. Its unique interlocking high strength steel construction can support up to 300,000 lbs. There are no bolts, no brackets, no breaking the footing, and no off-set loads. This pier carries an Engineer Certified safety factor of more than 10 to 1.

Contact Pioneer today get-arrow to schedule a no pressure visit to evaluate your foundation and the basement wall repair methods available.



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