Foundation Repair Using Piers and Pilings

Foundation problems can be challenging to diagnose and address. However, putting off repairs can lead to more significant problems and more expensive repair costs.

Foundation Repair

Foundation Repair Sugar Land will recommend the appropriate repair method for your home. This article will discuss several methods commonly used to fix foundation damage.

Piering or piling involves drilling steel beams into the ground underneath a home’s foundation. These support beams rest on stable soil, such as bedrock, to avoid shifting and help prevent damage over time.

This is a permanent repair method, but it can be costly. It is a good idea to consult with a foundation repair specialist before beginning any repairs. They can provide a detailed project scope and cost estimate, helping to shield you from unexpected costs. They can also help you explore financing options, such as a home equity loan, which leverages your ownership stake in the property to secure a line of credit.

When hiring a professional to perform piering or piling, make sure they use galvanized steel supports. This will ensure that the piers can withstand a large amount of pressure without rusting. They should be placed beneath the structural load bearing walls of your home or business, and they should extend at least 18 inches from the foundation.

If you have a pier and beam foundation, these support beams should be attached to the foundation with brackets. The brackets are then secured to the foundation with concrete anchors. If you have a slab foundation, these supports are typically built into the concrete. If the support brackets are not installed properly, they may fail to hold the weight of your home’s structure and lead to further cracking.

The type of soil under your foundation can also impact the cost of repairs. Different types of soil expand and contract at different rates, causing your foundation to shift. A thorough soil report can reveal this information and allow your repair contractor to determine the best fix for your home’s foundation problems.

For example, if your foundation has settled on a clay soil, you might need to have the soil replaced via underpinning. This method is more expensive than repairing a sagging concrete slab, but it is an effective solution for expansive soils. It can also address other issues, such as a sinking floor or crawl space. In addition to repairing your foundation, underpinning can also provide additional support for your home’s exterior and interior walls.

Soil Modification or Stabilization

Even if your home was built on an ideal foundation for the soil type, the ground can still shift and cause problems. A geotechnical engineer may need to complete a soil report to understand the nature of the problem and what needs to be done. This can add to the overall cost of your repair.

Soil stabilization involves chemically or mechanically altering the physical characteristics of the soil to change its ability to support a building. It offers more long term stability than piers or piles.

A popular method for soil stabilization is incorporating a calcium-based reagent into the soil, such as quicklime (calcium oxide) or hydrated lime (calcium hydroxide), or calciment lime kiln dust (LKD). This process changes the clay soils in which many homes are built to be more coarse and less plastic, which reduces shrinking and swelling of the soils around the foundation.

Other soil stabilization methods are soil mixing and compaction. Soil mixing involves adding a mixture of organic and inorganic materials to the soil. This process is typically used in combination with chemical stabilization. Soil mixing changes the structure of the soil, increases its strength, decreases plasticity, and improves drainage.

Another common method of soil stabilization is mechanical compaction, or deep dynamic compaction. This is a process in which soil is compacted by driving a deep roller under the foundation or by drilling holes and then injecting a high-pressure liquid that breaks apart the soil and repackages it. Mechanical compaction is a cost effective alternative to concrete piling and can be an economical way to stabilize a foundation.

If your foundation is severely unstable, you might need steel push piers or helical piers. These piers transfer the weight of your home to the piers, which can hold it up better than your foundation. This is a more expensive solution, but it can be permanent and prevent further movement of your foundation.

If your home’s foundation repair is expected to be expensive, you can apply for a loan or line of credit to cover the costs. This option allows you to leverage the equity stake that you have built up in your home to pay for the repair instead of digging into savings or maxing out credit cards.

Concrete Piers

If your home’s foundation is buckling, sinking, or heaving out of place, concrete piers may be used as part of the repair process. This involves drilling holes for the piers underneath your house, then using hydraulic jacks to lift the foundation up onto them. Concrete spacers are then put in place to close the gap between the top of the pier and your house’s foundation, creating a stable surface for your structure to rest upon.

Compared to other methods for lifting and stabilizing a slab floor, concrete piers require less excavation, labor, and material. This means that they are usually the more cost-effective choice for homeowners, especially if significant structural reinforcement is required. Additionally, since foundation piers transfer the weight of your home into the soil below, ground movement can have a harder time vibrating or shaking your foundation.

One reason for this is that concrete piers are a monolithic structure, meaning that they’re made of one solid piece of reinforced concrete. Additionally, they’re often steel-reinforced on the inside, which gives them a high tolerance for both compression and shear forces. This makes them a much better option than masonry piers, which are susceptible to mortar deterioration and can be difficult to put back in place once they’re out of plumb.

Before your builder lays the slab for your new home, he or she needs to set up the foundation piers on the site. This involves digging a series of holes throughout the lot, which will later be filled with concrete to strengthen your home’s foundation. The holes are typically around one foot in diameter, and each pier is drilled to a depth of up to 20 feet underground.

While this method can be quite disruptive during construction, it has several key benefits that make it the most common choice for foundation repair contractors. Concrete piers require less excavation and can be installed in a shorter amount of time than traditional methods. They’re also highly adaptable, as contractors can use different types of piers to meet the specific needs of your home’s foundation. This includes helical, push, and screw-shaped piers, all of which help distribute your home’s weight evenly over the foundation and soil.

Steel Piers

Using steel piers as part of a foundation repair plan is the most effective and permanent method to lift and stabilize a house or commercial building. Also called micro piles or push piers, they use less labor and materials than pressed concrete pilings, yet still provide exceptional support for the structure. This type of foundation repair can be used for both slab and pier-and-beam structures.

During the repair process, the work crew digs holes around the structure that needs foundation repair and installs a base of steel piers. They are driven into the ground until they reach a solid bearing stratum, such as bedrock or weathered shale. The piers are then connected to the foundation with steel brackets and load-tested to ensure they can support the structure’s weight.

Like concrete piers, steel piers are usually installed by experienced and licensed contractors. However, it is important to choose a contractor that understands the soil conditions in your area. A qualified contractor will perform a thorough assessment before recommending a specific foundation repair plan for your home or business.

Because steel piers are driven deep into the ground, they are less susceptible to the movement of soil that can affect concrete and other piers. They can be installed either before construction or decades afterward to correct a sinking foundation. When properly treated with galvanization, steel piers last for an extended period of time, even in wet or acidic soil conditions.

If your home has a pier-and-beam foundation that’s shifting and sinking, a temporary beam system may be necessary to add support to the structure. The process is known as shoring, and it involves adding timber beams to the structure to support the foundation and transfer some of the weight to the new steel piers.

When comparing foundation repair methods, consider the cost of both the long-term solution and the short-term shoring. Choose a solution that provides the best balance of stability and cost for your home or business.

Salvatore Beekman