Foundation Repair Options

Residential Foundation Repair Options

With so many options and decisions to make, you may be wondering what really is the best option to repair your foundation problem. At times it may seem overwhelming in deciding what company to go with and the best approach to solve your unique situation. We’ll help you make sense of your problem, remember every situation is unique in its own way, and can be solved many different ways, but there  best way and most effective way to repair a foundation sinking, beam twisting, column sinking or crack leaking.

Determining the affected area is the first thing to consider, then the severity of the problem how many steel pipe piles (push piers)  are you going to need depending if you are going to raise or stabilize dertimes the separation between each steel pipe pile. Lastly, will the home need to be lifted or stabilize only. We can answer all of these questions at the time of the evaluation, and options will be provided during the consultation.

Sinking Foundation | Settling Foundation

Many foundation companies use two types of methods to stabilize or lift a homes foundation. The two methods used are:

1. Steel Pipe Piles – Hydraulically Pushed

American Foundation Repair, prefers the Steel Pipe Pile method (push pier) because of the advantages listed below. The biggest and best advantage to using steel pipe piles is its capacity to easily exceed those of its counterparts (Helical or Screw Types). This means we can go deeper with steel pipe piles oppose to an unstable shallow ground using Helical Piers (Screw Types). The deeper you can go the better, since we are looking to hit very hard rock-solid like soil. 

Our push pier system is uniquely designed to fit any application including multi story buildings to residential homes and increase pier capacity as needed per engineering specifications, we can custom fabricate on-site developing our own system with our experienced team and the technology we use, makes us Chicago’s most dependable foundation repair company. 


  • Raise and or Stabilize foundation wall steel pipe piles are the most effective foundation repair than any other piering method.
  • Driven Straight into Ground (Extremely important with emphasis on “Straight”)  
  • Next to Foundation Wall
  • Extremely Effective at Supporting Foundation Wall
  • Can Easily Exceed Capacities (driven deeper into the ground) Compared to those of Helical or Screw Types
  • Very smooth piering process using hydraulic rams
  • Minimal landscaping damage (Dig holes by hand; no machinery.) with foundations up to 42″ deep
  • No large equipment needed to drive piers straight down next to foundation (hydraulic compressor is portable)


  • Not ideal for empty lots where footing and foundation have NOT been poured yet, open ground. (Residential Only)

2. Helical (Screw Types)

American Foundation Repair uses Helicals (Screw Types) too but ONLY when there is an empty lot with open ground. We will NOT and do NOT use them on existing homes, since the installation is very difficult and must be driven in at an angle leading to future foundation failure. We have repaired countless homes in the Chicago area where Helicals (screw types) have been used and failed to carry the load properly causing the home to continue to sink. 


  • Ideal for empty lots where footing and foundation have NOT been poured yet, open ground.

Disadvantages: (When structure or home is already present with foundation)

  • FAILS to effectively stabilize foundation.
  • Can NOT be driven straight
  • Large machinery needed to drive helical piers (screw types)
  • Driven in at a slight angle because of the equipment needed to install helical piers (screw types).
  • Angle Driven Helicals (screw types)  leads to a bending stress at the pier shaft which causes them to FAIL.
  • (No matter how slight the angle is, the Helical will FAIL, they were designed to be driven into the ground STRAIGHT).
  • Shallow Depths (Resistance is met at shallow grounds compared to steel pipes piles at deeper depths)


Bowed Walls | Leaning Walls | Tilting Walls | Diagonal Cracks

American Foundation Repair uses four main foundation repair applications when it comes to a bowing, leaning or tilting wall. Depending which one is occur in your situation we will recommend one tailored specifically to your homes needs. The four applications we use are steel vertical beams, concrete retaining walls, replace foundation wall with new one, and finally anchor wing walls. We will dive deeper into each one, and other applications available that we do not use.

Foundation Repair Options:

  1. Vertical Steel Beams
  2. Concrete Retaining Wall – Reinforced with rebar horizontally and vertically (gunite method)
  3. Replace Foundation Wall – reinforced with rebar horizontally and vertically (gunite method)
  4. Wing Walls with Rebar Tiebacks


Inadequate and ineffective ways to fix a foundation

      AFR does NOT use these two methods below.

  • Anchor Tie Backs with a Single Plate (competitors “quick fix”)
  • Carbon Fiber (competitors “quick fix”)

Bowed Walls | Concrete Block Wall | Horizontal Crack

With concrete block foundation wall usually with significant lateral pressure pushing up against the wall you will notice a horizontal crack going across the middle of the foundation wall. As long as the foundation wall has NOT been severely compromised, in most cases we can just stabilize the wall using a steel vertical I-Beam support up against the existing foundation wall.

This involves breaking up small sections of the  concrete floor to place a steel plate at the footing and anchor it with two anchor bolts.  Once the vertical beam is erected we can weld (to the beam) a flange that we’ve bolted to the top of the joist. After installation is complete we can then replace your concrete floor at the small areas where we broke it up. (Our competitors may just go ahead and sit the beam on the existing floor, the concrete floor is not strong enough in most cases to prevent the wall from bowing in.)

Foundation Repair Options:

1. Vertical Steel Beams


  • Extend the life of the foundation wall by stabilizing entire wall
  • Extremely Effective at preventing lateral pressure from continuing
  • Economical to install
  • Installation takes up to 1-3 Days
  • Push Foundation Back to a Compromise (Outside excavation required)
  • No digging involved form outside (if not overly compromised)

In addition to installing a vertical beam supports, we can also in many cases install a drain tile system at the perimeter of the basement. Also in many cases we will install a vapor barrier at every wall from top to bottom and connect it to the drain tile using a mel drain system.

If we find that the bowed wall is severely compromised we will not recommend this type of repair.


  • Wall can NOT be pushed back (Some competitors will claim they can, the wall isn’t budging an inch)


——————————– “quick fixes” used by our competitors ——————————–

Anchor Tie Backs with Single Plate: (competitor option)


  • Works well ONLY when in conjunction with VERTICAL STEEL BEAM SUPPORTS 


  • Not effective at preventing or stabilizing wall from bowing (too many motor joints)
  • Restraining force from the tie back will cause additional cracks around the plate
  • Does NOT restrain the entire foundation wall from top to bottom (Only localized block sections)

Carbon Fiber Straps: (competitor option)


  • Reinforce deteriorating concrete structures. (Keep concrete together from further crumbling)


  • Can NOT properly brace concrete block wall
  • Can NOT connect properly to transfer load at top or bottom of wall
  • Fails to keep bowing wall stable
  • Carbon Fiber Straps were Not intended or developed for basement wall bracing


Leaning Walls | Tilting Walls | Diagonal Cracks

Common causes why a wall might be leaning or titling in many cases are due to inadequate number of anchor bolts on sill plate. The problem is exacerbated with improper grade pitch from the outside (grade level pitched toward house)  causing lateral soil pressure against the foundation wall. You’ll then start to notice at least two cracks at the ends of the foundation wall usually diagonal cracks. This is a major indication of foundation failure. 

Our solution would be to shore (hold up home lift slightly only to take weight off foundation) entire house from basement and excavate from outside (trench excavation) and then from the inside with hydraulic rams push the wall slowly back to a compromise and rest the frame back on the foundation. Epoxy inject all cracks from inside. There would be two options once we excavate and push the wall back. We can place vertical steel support beams or we can install new wings walls from the outside. 

In other cases we can install a new concrete reinforced retaining from the inside. This would support and hold the damaged wall from bowing or leaning in any further. We would place a waterproofing vapor barrier between new and old damaged wall, install a drain tile system at perimeter of basement. Install rebar horizontally and vertically and then gunite the wall. Finish it off with a smooth trowel finish. 

2. Concrete Retaining Wall (Reinforced with rebar)


  • Stabilize foundation wall most effectively and take on load of home.
  • Cost effective (compared to a new foundation wall)
  • Savings Cost (No trenching outside) Example: Landscaping, driveway etc. 
  • Varpor barrier
  • Drain Tile Sytem
  • Reinforced with rebar (use more rebar than any competitor)
  • Smooth trowel finish
  • Dry basement


  • Interference of utilities (cost of relocating them)
  • Loss of basement space (up to 8″ – 10″)

3. Replace Damaged Foundation Wall (Shoring Home)


  • Most effective way to stabilize home when foundation is overly compromised.
  • Partial replacement of walls
  • Exterior Drain Tile System
  • New Pit and Sump Pump
  • Reinforced with rebar
  • Steel columns with adjustable screws (Encased in concrete) (lift home if needed)
  • Smooth finish
  • New window wells installed
  • Damp Proof
  • Dry basement


  • Trench from outside
  • Cost


4. Wing Walls Anchored with Rebar Tiebacks


  • Push foundation back to a compromise level
  • Secure and stabilize from any further inward movement
  • Exterior Drain Tile repaired 
  • Epoxy Injection of all cracks from inside

Wing Wall

Wing Walls









  • Interference of Utilites
  • Trench from outside