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Question DetailsAsked on 3/1/2017

Best Repair For Block Basement Wall

1/2 inch tilt and 1/4 bow in a walk out basement wall. There is a 1/4 shear on the top section that is coming in at 1 point.. The wall has some significant cracks coming toward the corner, and stair cracks on the other facing wall. Footer inspected, it is sound. No water coming in but a lot of Clay soil on the other side of that wall. Currently the front yard slopes up to the home and mostly that corner.

So my question. I have the tie backs, I Beams, and carbon fiber being pitched from the foundation companies I have had out. I think they all have merit, but I am wondering (since I have the skill) if I should excavate the front wall of the home, apply that poly membrane, put in a french drain and properly backfill with #2 stone, top off with the cloth and top soil sloping away from the foundation. Then chip out the separated mortar and re-mortar those joints.

Wouldn't that be better? or would I still need the tie backs, i beams or carbon fiber to prevent movement?

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For that amount of movement most people would do nothing till it got more severe or showed signs of accelerating - but since you say it is significantly cracking toward the corner and cracks on the facing wall, sounds like probably time to correct it before it has a chance to get out of hand or needs total replacement. Especially with it showing diagonal cracking.

My opinion - the graphite straps are pretty much useless for this application, and you will find their contract small print usually pretty much guarantees exactly nothing in the way of performance.

Vertical I beams without tiebacks are pretty much useless in this case also, and horizontal ones will not stop the tilt without tiebacks - plus are highly intrusive and scream failure in progress.

And - both those are bandaids without solving the cause of the issue - which is most likely the clay backfill. And they both are intended to resist the load moving the wall - which unless the reinforcing is very substantial (hence very intrusive and objectionable), it will not stop movement of a wall being pushed over by expanding clay. The clay is probably a major part of the problem if native clay was used to backfill the wall (as is very likely if your soil is clayey - using native soil rather than structural fill to backfill around a foundation is one of the most common new home construction failures.

Normal best solution in rough order - remove the backfill (probably all around the house since you have problems on at least 2 sides), put in french drain if you have or have had water issues, install tiebacks (with or without beams as appropriate - probably without for this little movement) and pull the wall back into alignment with the tiebacks, repair the cracking with patching and/or grouting as applicable and maybe with doweled and grouted rebar through the cracks if larger size, commonly pult in reinforcing bar and grout in the block voids in the damaged areas, put the bitumastic or synthetic waterproofing on the outside if any chance of water issues there (normally bitumastic if using tiebacks), place properly graded and compacted structural backfill, water-shedding surface layer to keep water out of the backfill (probably 4" or so of that clay sloping away from hosue), do any residual interior appearance damage repair.

One thing to remember - put any sort of permanently visible retaining feature on the wall and it spells trouble to buyers - so even if it costs a bit more you are usually far better off doing a repair that completely fixes AND covers up the history of the problem without the bandaid approach.

However - since this is your house's foundation you are talking about and you presumably would like it to last a few more decades or scores of years, your first step should be an evaluation and remedial design by a Structural or Geotechnical enigneer (Structural is the AL Search the List category, no Geotechnical category even though that is the best match, but most structurals have working relationshhips with a geotechnical engineer, or there is one on staff where they work). Commonly $250-500 evaluation, remedial design cost and inspection of the work (commonly when starting substantial repair work, then when done but before covering it up) typically that much to 2-3 times that much again depending on how critical the situation is and on whether you have a need for special attention to the clay situation if you are in an expansive/shrinking clay area.

Remember - the recommendation you got from the contractors are in almost all cases contractor solutions, who first of all tend to try to apply their favorite solution to every case, and in a vasst majority of cases are NOT qualified engineers so are actually breaking the law in proposing a structural solution to you without a licensed engineer's approval. Unfortunately, a LOT of the foundation repair and basement waterproofing contractors operate based on experience which may or may not have any basis in science or reality, and all too many are either just nopt qualified to evaluate a foundation or groundwater problem or are out and out scammers.

You can find a lot of previous similar questions about foundation issues (and basement water issues if you have that issue too, and about keeping water away from the foundation) in the Home > Foundation Repair and Home > Basement Waterproofing links in Browse Projects, at lower left.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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