Types of Foundation Stabilization - Which is Best for You?
You moved into your perfect Houston home a few years ago. You have finally finished the updates, so you can relax and enjoy your home. Then, you notice some cracks in the walls or maybe a sag in your front porch.
“Am I going to have to pay for an expensive foundation repair on top of everything else I have done to my house?” This is a question that plays over and over in your head as you call in a professional foundation repair expert.
You have spoken to the foundation repair expert, and he/she has informed you after their inspection that you need to have your foundation stabilized. This is much better news than needing to replace the entire foundation, but what exactly is foundation stabilization? Basically, foundation stabilization involves using specific elements and repair methods in order to provide additional support to the foundation and/or lift the home back to a level position. We will be discussing several options in this article.
1. Steel Push Piers
This is a foundation repair method that most structural engineers will recommend for stabilizing a foundation that has started to shift or sink into unstable ground. This method uses large galvanized or epoxy-coated steel push piers that are connected together and attached to hydraulic jacks. A hydraulic ram will then be used to drive the piers deep into the ground until they reach stable, load-bearing soil. This foundation repair method can be used to raise the home back to its original height and support it to prevent further settlement.
2. Helical Piers
Helical piers are actually steel pipes with spiral blades (helixes) on the lower ends. The helixes give these piers the necessary load-bearing capacity even when they aren’t pushed as deep into the ground as steel push piers. Because helical piers look like giant screws, they’re twisted into the ground with the help of a hydraulic torque motor.
Both of these foundation repair methods allow for steel piers to be driven into the load-bearing soil much deeper than the concrete foundation can be placed. Once the piers are installed, they’re tested with more weight than they will ever hold. After the piers pass the testing, and the engineer confirms they have the load-bearing capacity required, the foundation repair technicians will lower the foundation back down on the piers. To connect the piers to the foundation, the workers will use a metal head assembly that will be attached by bolting or welding and locked into place via wall brackets.
There are different methods for having a foundation repair done. While steel piers could be the best alternative in some cases, other types of piers cost less and can be installed more quickly. Let's look at some other options you may wish to consider.
3. Precast Concrete Piers
These piers are pushed into the ground under the existing foundation with the help of a unified jacking machine. Unlike poured concrete piers, which need time to harden, pre-cast alternatives can be used immediately following the installation process. As a result, even the most complex foundation repair projects can be completed in a relatively short time frame. Similar to helical and steel push piers, precast concrete piers are connected to the foundation and secured in place to prevent movement and shifting.
4. Poured Concrete Piers
Poured concrete piers are made by pouring concrete into holes that have been drilled under the existing foundation. Compared to the aforementioned pier alternatives, this foundation repair method is messier and more labor-intensive. The process takes approximately three weeks to complete the pier installation. The concrete takes time to harden properly and nothing should interfere with this hardening process. The house will be lowered onto the concrete piers once they’re fully dry. This method makes it very difficult to know when the piers have reached the load-bearing ground under the foundation.
This repair method is typically used for raising small concrete layouts, which are meant to support and raise things, like sidewalks, garages, and sometimes basement floors. This is done by drilling holes into the existing concrete slab and pouring a concrete mixture underneath to create another level of stabilization. This is not a method to be used for a house foundation repair. The moment a foundation repair expert mentions this as an inexpensive fix, you should call another company. While this method works extremely well in some cases, it isn’t usually recommended for repairing a home foundation.
We have discussed many options for doing a foundation repair on your home. However, each home is different, so it’s always best to call in a foundation repair professional in Houston to examine your home’s foundation. The professional will examine your foundation and test the soil under your home before suggesting a particular repair method for your foundation.
The best way to know if you’re getting the best advice on your foundation is by educating yourself. It is important that you know the alternatives that the experts think will work best. This way you can know whether a foundation repair company is experienced enough to be the best choice for your foundation repair project. This is your home and the future of your family. It doesn’t matter if your family is looking for a home or has owned a home for many years. When you are facing foundation repair issues, it is important that you do extensive homework for the best results in the end. Remember that your home is only as good as the foundation underneath it.
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