Bell Bottom Pier vs. Cable Lock ST Plus – Why Did Olshan Stop Recommending the Bell Bottom Pier on Most Homes Over 2 Decades Ago?

bell bottom pier

At Olshan, We Specialize in Providing the Most Effective Repair Methods to Homeowners

Here at Olshan, we have strived to position ourselves at the forefront in foundation repair technology since our inception in 1933. This dedication has enabled us to find the very best foundation repair technology available, and make it readily accessible to the residential marketplace.

To meet our rigorous specifications, each Olshan Foundation Repair service line has been tested in the field and represents the latest technology, developed by the finest people, using only the best available materials.

This process never stops, forcing us to continuously adapt over our eight-five year history in order to deliver the best possible service to homeowners.

1967: Olshan Becomes the First VA & FHA Approved Provider of Bell Bottom Piers

Which is why it’s no surprise that when the VA and FHA approved Olshan’s use of bell bottom piers to repair homes way back in 1967, Olshan became the very first company to receive the designation. Our familiarity with the bell bottom pier is extensive. Olshan lead the movement to establish the bell bottom pier method as an industry standard 50 long years ago.

…when the VA and FHA approved Olshan’s use of Bell Bottom Piers to repair homes way back in 1967, Olshan became the very first company to receive the designation. Our familiarity with the bell bottom pier is extensive.


Bell Bottom Piers – Easy on Contractors, Tough on Homeowners

So when we decided to stop recommending the Bell Bottom Pier as a primary repair method over two decades ago, you can rest assured we made the conclusion based on extensive research and testing.

It would have been far easier on us as a company to continue installing the aging bell bottom pier we were so familiar with, but we made the switch due to a commitment to providing our customers with the very best product available. While bell bottom piers were considered advanced for their time, technological advances have made the Cable Lock ST Plus system the most efficient, flexible and effective foundation repair method available on the market today.

While bell bottom piers were considered advanced for their time, technological advances have made the Cable Lock ST Plus system the most efficient, flexible and effective foundation repair method available.


Even though belled pier technology is over 50 years old, the fact is, there are still foundation contractors that continue to recommend the bell bottom pier method.

There are still some instances where bell bottom piers might make sense (Olshan still installs them occasionally), but is the bell bottom pier repair method the best choice for you and your home?

Find out why we decided to move away from the bell bottom pier and what makes the Cable Lock ST Plus system the smartest choice for today’s homeowner.

Cable Lock ST Plus vs. Bell Bottom Pier

FeaturesCable Lock ST PlusBell Bottom Pier
Soil PenetrationBestFair
Depth VerificationBestGood
Alignment VerificationBestGood
Steel ReinforcedBestGood
Supports Home DirectlyBestGood
Load Test on InstallBestPoor
Preserves LandscapeGoodPoor
Cost of MaterialsMediumLow
Cost to InstallMediumLow
Time Needed to InstallFastestSlow

Why are Contractors Still Offering the Bell Bottom Pier, a 50 Year Old Technology, Despite its Limitations?

Bell bottom piers are sturdy and strong enough to support just about any residential foundation. They can prop up and support foundations that have been compromised by weather-related expansion and contraction of the soil beneath.

Bell Bottom Pier Installaton

When interior support is needed for the home’s foundation, long, narrow vertical shafts are carved out of your slab with heavy machinery to a pre-determined depth of approximately 10-12 feet.

At the bottom of the shaft a special bit is used to gouge out a larger, bell-shaped hole, which will add extra strength and sturdiness to the finished foundation support column once the entire shaft has been filled with poured concrete.

Next, steel rebar is added to each drilled shaft before the concrete is poured, to make the support column more resistant to horizontal or vertical pressure. After a long curing (drying) period of 10-20 days, the house will be measured for settling and lifted as necessary to attempt to level floors and improve the functionality of the home.

Bell Bottom Piers Negatively Impact Landscaping

This installation process is actually simple, but unnecessarily time-consuming and disruptive.

There is a large amount of digging involved and all the dirt removed must be disposed of somehow. A relatively significant quantity of landscaping (lawns, plants, trees) may be targeted for removal before excavation can begin, creating an eyesore and possibly some permanent damage to the surrounding areas driveways, walkways and any hardscape. Unfortunately, because excavated areas can’t be restored until the concrete is dry, dislocated plants may not survive long enough to be replanted.

Unfortunately, because excavated areas can’t be restored until the concrete is dry, dislocated plants may not survive long enough to be replanted.


Bell bottom pier systems work reasonably well, offering firm and lasting support to foundations at risk of continued decay and damage. But the installation process from beginning to end is messy, noisy, machine-intensive and liable to produce at least some loss of landscaping features.

In addition, because the bell bottom pier is not load-tested at the time of installation, installation errors are usually not detected until later, requiring adjustments to be made after-the-fact, which causes more problems, more work, and more disruption.

While bell bottom piers might have been the best option for homeowners back in the sixties and seventies, thankfully homeowners have more reliable and convenient options today.

While bell bottom piers might have been the best option for homeowners back in the sixties and seventies, thankfully homeowners have more reliable and convenient options today.


Why Did Olshan Drop the Bell Bottom Pier 2 Decades Ago?

We Found an Innovative, Efficient Approach to Foundation Repair Designed to Meet the Needs of the Modern Homeowner. Only Olshan Offers the Cable Lock ST Plus Foundation Repair System

The truth is, we haven’t abandoned the bell pier completely just yet. In some special circumstances, due to construction defects in homes or other factors, Olshan still happily recommends using the bell bottom pier system on a case-by-case basis. Our team of Certified Structural Technicians are here to evaluate your foundation damage, home’s construction and project goals before determining the best solution – all free-of-charge.

But in most cases (90%) we recommend the Cable Lock ST Plus.

The Cable Lock ST Plus foundation support system combines the advantages if steel piers, concrete pilings and a galvanized steel cable in one unbeatable package, delivering superior performance time after time.

The Cable Lock ST Plus installation process:

cable lock st plus piling installationCable Lock ST Plus pilings are constructed from cylindrical sections of steel and pre-cast concrete. As installation begins, thinner steel piers with holes in the middle are threaded onto the long galvanized steel cable first, with thicker concrete piling cylinders added as needed after that.

During the threading process the growing steel/concrete assembly is driven progressively downward into the earth through an access hole, until it achieves adequate friction from the soils to support the load of the home. This occurs far beneath the earth’s surface in stable soils outside the weather-affected zone near the surface.

Depending on soil conditions high-pressure water streams may be used to increase the penetration depth of the steel piers, helping the Cable Lock ST Plus system achieve greater depth and far more reliable results than Bell Bottom drilled to a pre-measured depth.

Once the lower-level steel and concrete sections have been driven as deep as they can go (to refusal), a concrete cap is placed on top of the final concrete section, followed by two concrete sections that form the point of contact between support column and foundation.

The whole assembly is locked firmly and rigidly in place with Sure-Lock™ technology, which keeps the entire piling firmly secured to the steel cable at the top and bottom of the insertion shaft—hence the name, Cable Lock ST Plus.

The Final Analysis

In contrast to the outdated bell bottom pier method, the Cable Lock ST Plus system relies on precise, speedy, surgical techniques to insert a series of support columns beneath a foundation with minimum disruption to property and landscaping.

Its depth of penetration, use of multiple materials and cable-based interconnection increase its strength and offers unmatched consistency of performance, giving the homeowner peace of mind and a longer lasting level of protection against future foundation related settlement and resulting damage.

The bell bottom pier method is still satisfactory in improving a foundation’s elevation, but the Cable Lock ST Plus offers superior performance in a far less intrusive manner and continues to perform better over time, which is why we back it with an available warranty plan.

Over two decades ago we made the decision to move away from the limitations of the bell bottom pier when we found a better solution.

The breakthrough Cable Lock™ ST Plus Foundation Repair System combines the strength and longevity of a concrete piling with the depth of a steel pier locked together with a Cable. We have staked our reputation on the success and durability of the Cable Lock ST Plus system and it the decision has withstood the test of time. Our exclusive Cable Lock™ ST Plus System is now the leading foundation repair method available anywhere.