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Tunneling: What Is It and How Is It Done? [With Photos]

September 27, 2019

Tunneling - What is It and How is It Done?

Foundations are important - they are, essentially, the backbone of the house, providing support and stability to keep your home standing upright. Foundations are, however, susceptible to the elements, especially in Houston. Depending on what the home is built on, foundations may shift or deteriorate, leaving the home unstable and on uneven ground. The longer this kind of problem is ignored, the worse it could get, so it is important to address your foundation as soon as possible. 

What To Look For...


Cracks are usually the first indication of a foundation problem. Cracks will appear in sheetrock, or in walls. These cracks appear because some pieces of the house are higher than other pieces, leaving the materials of the house under duress.

Other signs of foundation distress in your Houston home include broken pipes, doors that don't open and shut smoothly, windows that are tough to open and close, uneven floors and cracks in exterior brickwork. Often, the cracks that have a zig-zag pattern tend to be the clearest sign of a foundation in need of repair.

Not all issues like these that you may find in your home are indicative of a foundation problem. It's important to note that a professional can inspect your issues and know whether they are of concern.

Allied Foundation offers a no-obligation, complimentary inspection of your foundation, so you don't have to worry if you're missing something or be left unsure if an issue is something to worry about. 

How We Repair It

Once your issues have been inspected and are clearly linked to foundation problems, it’s time to repair it. In order to begin the foundation repair process, the home has to first be prepared to allow for these kinds of repairs.

First and foremost, we protect your home and landscaping. The grass is covered and gardens are taken care of in order to be sure we can return everything to how it was found.

In homes that have no crawlspace, the way to get to your foundation is through a process called under-slab tunneling. 

Under-Slab Tunnel by Allied Foundation

Under-slab tunneling is a process through which repairmen can gain access to the interior foundation area of the home without needing to go through the actual interior of the house. This allows for repairs to be done without causing damage to the interior of the home. The tunnels are normally just a few feet in dimension and are as long as needed in order to access the spaces needed to execute the foundation repair. 

Worker Executing Foundation Repair

There are advantages to tunnels that many may not consider! One of the benefits, as mentioned before, is that they allow for repairs to be done in interior parts of the foundation without needing to actually physically go into the home. Most often, your interior home-life is unaffected by your foundation being repaired.

Worker Using Piers to Lift the Home

Tunneling allows for repair without breaking through the foundation slab, without tearing out carpet, or hardwood, or tile, or whatever other materials your floor may be made of! This keeps the entire foundation repair process less costly. Not only that, but it eliminates the need to move out of the home, remove furniture, or plastic wrap every surface. Not only does this keep the repair process less costly, it means the cleanup process will take far less time, and the repair will feel less invasive with the opportunity to keep everything the same.

Tunneling, Explained

In order to do the repair, the tunnels need to be dug! While many may imagine that the tunnels are dug with some new, fancy robot, they are actually dug by hand!

After the repair, you may wonder what will happen to the tunnels that were dug under the house. The tunnels are re-filled through hand-tamping. Sometimes, a pump will be used to remove any water and mud that has accumulated in the voids. 

While having tunnels refilled by hand may be concerning to some, it is important to note that the tunnels are used simply for access - they are in no way holding up the home. After the house leveling or foundation repair is completed, the house is held up by piles, not the tunnel. So, while concerns about tunnel collapse are warranted, there is no need to fear it. If the tunnel does collapse, it will not impact the home in any way since the foundation is resting on the pilings. 

Workers Lifting the Home Foundation

Once the tunnels have been filled, Allied takes pride in returning your landscaping and lawn to its original condition - a passerby would never even know you had foundation work done! Landscaping is replanted, mulch is replaced, any pavers are laid back in position and excess dirt is removed from the property.

Thanks to under-slab tunneling, foundation repair can be a breeze, and the nature of the tunneling allows for the interior of the home to remain untouched! For any questions, or concerns about foundation repair or pipework, reach out to Allied today.

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Jon

Written by Jon

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