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Nitrosheep

09:22PM | 12/20/12
Member Since: 12/20/12
3 lifetime posts
Bvbasement
Hi there - new here, with a serious bowing foundation wall. I've lived with this wall for 7 years now, and when I noticed (for the first time) mice living and scurrying along inside the large crack, I decided it was finally time to do something. Went to the bank to talk about home equity financing the very next day.

I'm looking at 2 options on fixing this right now, but I'm at a standstill because I don't know what's better - to fix the bad walls with an anchoring system, or to completely replace them with new blocks laid. Please help!

Here's the situation:

Modest home, southern Michigan. Full basement, 8' cinder block walls, concrete floor.

Bought the house from my grandparents, who built it themselves. They built the foundation in 1950, lived in that basement for 5 years until they could afford to build the house itself in 1955. When grandpa was alive, he said the worst wall had been bowed "like that for 20 years".

One wall (the "bad wall") is significantly bowing inward, and its pressure on the rest of the structure has caused cracking, stairstepping, and even small gaps between blocks from the corners of the other two adjacent walls.

The bad wall is 33' long and has a crack at the frost-line, which is the farthest bowed inward. The crack itself, at the worst point, is about 1" wide (gaping open, you can look into it and see the hollow interiors of the blocks). The wall bows in 3" at the worst, as measured by one of our estimating companies.

Possible solutions:

We've had 5 estimating companies out here, and we're down to considering two.

Company A is run by the Foundation Supportworks corporation. Their plan is to use Geo-Lock wall anchors (8) along the bad wall, excavate the exterior along that wall, and pull the wall back into place, and of course anchor it so it won't move again. They also plan to use 6 Powerbraces (reinforced I-beams) along an adjacent wall that needs some help (though not nearly as serious). Lifetime (structure) warranty. Total price around $14,000.

Company B is a local contractor (reputable, years of experience, legit, insured, etc.) who proposes excavating around half the house to tear out the bad wall and the adjacent wall, then lay all new blocks and build new walls (with steel bars reinforcing the insides of the blocks). As a local contractor, he cannot offer any sort of written warranty, but would likely come back out to fix any problems in the future. I do not have his final estimate yet (likely tomorrow) but he sounded like it would be in the same ballpark, not too much higher.

...So, let's say price is not a factor in this (anticipating both methods to be in the same ballpark price-wise). My burning question is - what's the better long-term solution?

Anchor and fix the bowed walls (which also installs a metal plate on the outside, curved at the bottom, to divert water away so the problem doesn't happen again), or build new walls?

It seems like a no-brainer at first - why fix old when you can build new? But what if we end up with the same expanding soil, or water pressure, or frost heave, etc. etc. that bowed the wall in the first place? Wouldn't that just ruin a newly built wall eventually too?

Sorry for writing a book here - I sincerely appreciate it if you're still reading. And thank you in advance for any and all advice, experience, or information you may have!

-Maranda
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