Case Studies

Case 1

Construction Piers/Pilasters failing: Amherst, NY

In Amherst, we were called for horizontal wall cracks on 2 opposite basement walls in a home. The house was 40 years old with a full depth, block foundations. When the home was built, 2 columns of solid poured concrete (commonly called pilasters or piers) whose size was 2 ½' x 3' x 6 ½' were installed on the inside of both walls to curb any wall movement. We see the new construction installation of items like this because the wall is predisposed to movement because of the makeup of the soil. Pilasters and piers trying to hold back the wall do not work. Not new construction and not retrofit ones. Grip-Tite Wall Anchors were installed and the positive effects were immediate! We placed duct tape over the cracks to gunge movement of the wall. As the Wall Anchors were tightened down, the duct tape started to pucker, showing the wall was moving back to its original position. We will tighten the anchors every 6 months or the homeowner can do it themselves. This wall has a good chance of closing all the cracks because there is no foreign material in the cracks, like caulk or crack injections, but the cracks are significant, allowing soil, rocks, and deteriorating wall pieces to fall in. This wall is permanently stabilized and will not bow in any further. The foundation is now structurally sound and is guaranteed against any further movement.

Case 2

Water coming out of basement wall at the top (exterior drainage): Fairport, NY

A customer called from Fairport with water dripping down the wall, but it started coming through the wall at or just below ground level. The way a block wall foundation works is that water moves through the wall on the outside, scaling back and forth as it drips down the inside of the wall, and moves out of the wall at the base. With the water coming through at the top of the wall, that meant the water could not move down the wall as fast as the water coming in on the outside. When we visited the customer's home at the initial consultation and after listening to all the problems and concerns with the basement, we proposed and installed an exterior drainage system. The exterior of the foundation was dug up and rubber put on the wall. Stone was brought in and piping was installed in the ground to channel the water away from the area. As a courtesy, we connected her downspouts to the exterior drainage system to remove even more water from the area. The system was covered in stone, dirt, topsoil, and grass seed. The positive results were immediate. There was no longer water coming through the basement wall.

Case 3

Water coming out of the bottom of the wall. Can’t we just drill weep holes? Greece, NY

When water drips downs a basement wall, all additional symptoms have to be analyzed. As was the case for Ms. Beaty in Greece. Ms. Beaty contacted Basement Technologies of WNY in the fall with the problem of water dripping through the bottom 1-2 courses of blocks in her basement wall in one area. When we visited her for the estimate, we explained that water moves through one side of her block wall foundation, drips down the core, and comes out through weep holes that are drilled in the wall, but below floor level. The water was trapped in the wall because her piping system under the floor was clogged. Although she understood this process, she was reluctant to install a new waterproofing system and asked us, instead, to drill weep holes just above the floor to let the water out of the wall because that would be cheaper. Unfortunately, that is a disservice and creates many more additional problems than it fixes. We gave her the estimate and time to do her research. Within one day, Ms. Beaty contacted us to move forward with the estimate after taking our advice to Google search "weep holes above the floor." When we opened the trench in the floor and installed her new system, we redrilled weep holes near the original ones. Ms. Beaty was present and witnessed the water spouting from the new weep holes into our 8" open trench! The pressure was so great, the water would have completely bypassed her original floating slap trench. Although the spouting only continued for about 5 min, the water could be seen running from the holes during the duration of the installation process. The 3rd day brought a large amount of rain and the holes spouted again. These weep holes drain as they are meant to, but with the pressure and amount of water that comes through them, you do not want them above the floor, adding water to the living space of your home, evaporating and saturating everything. Her new basement waterproofing system with Water Trek is working wonderfully with no dripping water, no wet basement, and no spouting water.

Case 4

Rusty orange color coming through wall: Greece, NY

Many homes in Upstate NY deal with iron ochre. Rochester and Monroe County deal with high levels of iron ochre. Iron bacteria naturally occur in the groundwater in our area. It produces a byproduct called iron ochre, a thick, rust-colored or brown slimy substance that easily clumps together to clog pipes and drainage systems. When a basement waterproofing system is clogged, that means the pipe under the floor that collects water can no longer do so. The water backs up around the pipe and inside the wall and starts dripping down the walls or coming up on the floor through the floating slab trench. Mr. Tallim in Greece had this rusty colored substance staining and “running down” the basement wall and was lining inside of his crock and sump pump. We removed his old system underneath the floor and installed a Water Trek System by Basement Technologies. Water Trek is made for even the toughest situations, like iron ochre. Mr. Tallim confided in our foreman that all the other companies that he had out had guarantees on their systems, but when he asked for a copy of the warranty, he read that iron ochre voids the warranty. He was able to finish his basement and has a lifetime guarantee on his system with Basement Technologies.

Case 5

1 Stair-Step Crack in Corner of Basement: Amherst, N

All foundation cracks are a concern, but how many, how wide, and sometimes how long they have been there determines whether they are a heightened concern or not. Mr. and Mrs. Chilid lived in Amherst and were concerned with one stair step crack at the back corner of their foundation. The crack was leaking water and that was what prompted them to call us. Upon visiting the home, Mr. Chilid explained that he had inherited the home from his father 5 years before and that the crack “has always leaked” despite him and his father filling it with hydraulic cement and caulk. He explained that our competitors had come in and told him he only needed a crack injection and that his foundation was fine. He had read our reviews and wanted the “same total assessment” that our competitors had given him. When it comes to foundation movement, there is almost always an “opposite” crack. A crack is formed by foundation movement. When a basement wall or corner settles, the other crack shows the other end of the movement. Our Analyst, Pat, walked around the basement and noticed a large shelf filled with old boxes next to a workbench with an old corkboard hanging from the ceiling. He asked if he could look behind the corkboard, and Mr. Chilid obliged. Behind the corkboard was a vertical crack, wide enough to put a pencil in. Upon removing the corkboard and pulling out the workbench, they noticed that the crack was dry and had no water coming in. That is why no one had noticed it. The failing crack injections the homeowner was doing are a tell-tale sign of wall movement. Coupled with the size of the other crack, this verified the movement of the side wall. We proposed Grip-Tite Helical Piers. Mr. Chilid hired a third party geotechnical engineer, who confirmed wall movement. Grip-Tite Helical Piers were installed in July 2009. The foundation wall was hydraulically lifted by the piers and the cracks significantly closed. His foundation was warrantied against any movement and we received warranty transfer notice in 2015 from Mr. Chilid with a Thank You note explaining how after so many years, he was still very impressed with our knowledge, the professionalism at the estimate, and the Helical Piers themselves. The new homeowners have the same warranty.

Case 6

Failing Carbon Fiber Strips: Pittsford, NY

Grip-Tite Wall Anchors are meant to hold back a bowing foundation wall. They are the only foundation repair solution recommended by the Army Corps of Engineers and HUD (Housing for Urban Development). Although sometimes customers choose steel I-beams or carbon fiber strips, they are not an engineered system and can be installed by any contractor, home improvement guy, or homeowner. They are readily and cheaply, available to absolutely everyone. So was the case of Mr. Bradley in Pittsford, NY. He had a construction company install carbon fiber strips on a bowing wall in 2006. He had a structural engineer compile a report and the engineer recommended carbon fiber strips and received a warranty from the company that installed them. In March 2008, Mr. Bradley thought the crack was getting bigger. Upon measuring the crack and reviewing pictures the year of carbon fiber installation, Mr. Bradley found that was the case. The company who installed them was out of business, the carbon fiber company said that because the installation company was out of business, they had no way of knowing "how" the carbon fiber strips were installed. There is no training or installation support, just a sheet of printed directions that comes with every purchase. Additionally, they directed him to his warranty that stated we "guarantee the carbon fibers will not fail" and not that the "wall" will not fail. Despite the documentation, pictures, and contract, the representative said that "technically, the carbon fiber is still stuck to the wall and that is how your warranty reads." Mr. Bradley contacted his engineer. The engineer explained that although he recommended them, no engineer warranties any recommendation OR diagnosis.

At a loss, Mr. Bradley contacted Basement Technologies of Western NY because of our years in business and reviews. He worked with us, a geotechnical engineer, the Town of Pittsford, and Grip-Tite Wall Anchors, and an engineered system was installed in May 2009. The day of installation, when we tightened the Wall Anchors, the cracks started to close and bowing reduced by 1 ½". To help Mr. Bradley save money, we showed him how to tighten the Wall Anchors every 6 months. Mr. Bradley did this 6 times and his wall is nearly straight. He installed a new kitchen in 2013 and that is why he stopped tightening them. Such a simple thought, like "pulling back a wall" instead of pushing or holding it, can make all the difference.

Case 7

High Water Levels from Lake Ontario Flooding Basements: Greece, NY

Mrs. Rubben from Greece, NY called when the Ontario Lake levels were at their worst in July 2017. Mrs. Rubben explained that her basement had some damp spots on the walls over the years, but nothing like the 9" of standing water in her basement that her sump pump cannot keep up with. She explained she was a senior on a fixed income and overwhelmed with the prices she had gotten for basement waterproofing and yard drainage. I asked her if she had family to help her, and although she did, they had no idea what to do. I recommended her buying a waste pump from Lowes for few hundred dollars to keep the water out as much as possible. She was so appreciative of the advice and could not believe we weren't coming out to give her an exterior drainage estimate. I explained that nothing could be done now because of the water and that a proper assessment couldn't be made until the water receded and we could see the new problems with her basement, foundation, and yard. How can an assessment be made in an extreme situation? In October, Mrs. Rubben called back. The water from Lake Ontario had receded and her basement was dry. The pump had worked perfectly and her grandson had helped her. We talked about her current situation: outside standing water, inside wet spots or water coming in up the slab, etc. She said there was none of that, but the basement was damp. I explained she needed no new system, outside or inside. Dampness is rectified with a dehumidifier. Mrs. Rubben was elated to hear she needed no work done, despite the many estimates she had from other contractors. Her son was so impressed, he put a review online for her.

Case 8

Do I need both an exterior waterproofing system and interior basement waterproofing system? Irondequoit, NY

Ms. Merta is a homeowner in Irondequoit who collected estimates to stop the water from coming into her basement. When we assessed her basement, we found the water was coming in low on the wall and up through the trench on the floor. We recommended a guaranteed waterproofing system with Water Trek. We left her with the estimate to consider all her options and contacted her a week later. She apologized for not getting back to us sooner and wanted to make sure we were guaranteeing the system without doing exterior work. We explained she did not need exterior work because the problem was low on the wall. No amount of exterior work would stop the water. She could not believe we were ½ the price of our competitors, were in business for more than 15 years and were not proposing additional work because our competitors had. A Water Trek Basement Technologies system was installed in 4 ½ days and no water comes through the wall or up on her floor anymore. She used the “extra money” she thought she was going to have to use to buy new windows.