Cracked and bowing walls problems are a major cause for concern as houses begin to age. More of a concern is the amount and degree of varying opinions from basement foundation repair companies. It seems the more companies you talk to the more the confusing the problem becomes. Everyone you talk with says their method is the best! Many foundation repair companies have not updated their industry knowledge or repair methods…and are still doing things the way they were done in the 60’s. There are obviously many different wall repair methods available today, but the key is to chose the right one for your particular problem. Any company which has only one method of repair available to solve your problem may not be the right people to do your work. ( many of these companies are locked into a franchise and can only sell one product )
Some companies will tell you if the wall is cracked and bowed it has to be replaced. In most cases these folks don’t have any knowledge of what modern repair techniques are capable of. These are the guys stuck in past. Working with these folks will end up costing you a lot more money than you probably needed to spend. 90% of the walls that these folk condemn are easily repairable and can be fully stabilized and warranted. As a rule: Only a masonry wall which has bowed more than 3-4″, or has sheared at the bottom and moved inward more than 3″, or has rotten concrete blocks needs to be replaced and rebuilt. With modern materials and techniques these walls can easily be stabilized and repaired. Once you realize your wall doesn’t have to be replaced you then need to understand the various repair methods. ( see our articles on the advantages and disadvantages of the following repair methods…Wall Anchors, Steel beams, Rod and grout, Epoxy injection and carbon fiber repair )
In a nutshell: Solid poured cracked walls usually require wall anchors to stabilize any wall movement and epoxy or polyurethane injection to repair the cracking.
Standard cement bock ( cinder block ) usually requires rod & grout or carbon fiber repair… ( the amount, severity and location of the cracking and bowing determines this )
Red Clay tile block walls require steel beams most of the time and carbon fiber less often.
Brick walls generally require steel beams and less often carbon will be utilized above the window and door lentils.
A standard cement block wall which has sheared at the bottom ( second block above the floor is moving inward ) should have the bottom shear repaired with rod & grout and the main wall stabilized with carbon fiber.
Note: Unless the carbon fiber fiber repair ( such as Fortress carbon fiber ) spans the entire height of the wall (from floor to ceiling) the wall is still subject to shearing at the bottom. Even though some companies will tell you you have a “stable wall”, if the bottom moves you will often find you have no warranty covering this!
Bottom line: With a knowledgable and experienced contractor you will spend less money, the job will be done much quicker and more efficiently, the work area will be kept cleaner and more organized…and costly surprises will not be in your future!