Repair a Crumbling Basement Wall
LESLIE: Brian in Indiana is working on a basement project. How can we help you with it?
BRIAN: Ah, yes. I’ve got a Michigan basement that actually has a crater about four-foot wide, about three-foot tall. I was wondering, basically, of the easiest fix; fixing that myself without having to spend a lot of money and go through contractors.
TOM: When you say a crater, you mean a part is caved in?
BRIAN: Actually, the mortar or the plaster part of the Michigan basement is actually fallen out where the dirt is on my basement floor of that.
TOM: Oh, boy. Alright. So you have to kind of rebuild that portion of the foundation wall?
TOM: Well, the only way to do that – and I’ve got to tell you, Brian, it’s not a do-it-yourself project, generally speaking, because what you have to do is you have to support the floor joists above that area. You essentially have to support the house while you rebuild what used to hold it up.
BRIAN: OK. Well, it is almost like a two-part question on that. The sill blocks and everything else, they’re behind that Michigan wall.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. Right.
BRIAN: It’s all concrete; it’s a concrete barrier that goes all the way down to the adjoining basement floor. Would I be able to just take that Michigan wall completely out then?
TOM: I don’t think so. And when you say, “Michigan wall,” are you talking about like a dirt basement where the basement was basically made in two stages?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Like a dirt basement, right?
TOM: It was originally, perhaps, a crawlspace and then dug deeper to create the basement, which resulted in a very thick, dirt wall?
BRIAN: Yeah. On one side of the basement, that’s what it is. It’s got a crawlspace. On the other side, it’s actually a basement where it’s got a three-foot-wide wall.
TOM: Yeah, that’s what we call – Leslie, that’s what we call a Yankee basement.
LESLIE: A Yankee basement, yeah.
TOM: Yeah. In Michigan, they call it a Michigan basement. (chuckles) And in Iowa, apparently, they call it a Michigan basement, as well.
So, can you get rid of that? No, because that’s essentially what’s holding up the part of the foundation, so you can’t get rid of it. What you have to do is restore it.
BRIAN: OK. So in other words, you’re saying I would have to have contractors.
TOM: I think so.
LESLIE: Yeah. (Brian chuckles)
TOM: Wouldn’t want you to mess with that.
BRIAN: OK. Alright. That’s what I was needing to know then.
TOM: Alright, Brian. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.