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Foundation Repair – Disadvantages of Concrete Pressed Pilings

April 6, 2010

in Foundation Repair, Foundation Repair Methods

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Simple pressed concrete pilings graphic

Simply put, this method of foundation repair is the cheapest (in price AND quality) leveling system available, and that for a reason. Time and again Concrete Pressed Pilings have been shown to be an inadequate solution to foundation problems. This method relies on pre-casted concrete cylinders to be stacked on top of each other and driven to a point of resistance, oftentimes, within the active zone of expansive soils.

Many contractors promote this method as better than steel piers, because Steel Piers rust (a shameful scare tactic, which is negated by their own used of steel piers or cables to straighten their piers once the have been installed). In addition, galvanized steel piers, like the ones used by Superior Foundation Repair, are desigged to last and withstand elements which cause steel to rust, while contractors using concrete pressed pilings often use steel products which are not galvanized and tend to rust.

A few limitations of concrete pilings can be found in this report from foundationperformance.org

Precast concrete segmental piles are not able to resist significant bending moments due to lateral loads.

Depending upon the soil uplift forces, interconnected precast concrete segmental piles that are connected to the existing foundation system may not be able to provide resistance against foundation uplift if the soil is in contact with the existing foundation system.

If the pile cannot attain sufficient penetration into stable soils, then it may not be anchored against potential movements that occur due to swelling or shrinking of the soils in the moisture active zone.

Oftentimes contractors offering to install concrete pressed pilings will offer to lubricate the soil through water-jetting, in order to push the piers further down. If any contractor offers to introduce water underneath your foundation, run as far as you can. Under no circumstances should water be introduced underneath a foundation, as water is the main cause of foundation problems. This blog post states it clearly:

Another method used to overcome shallow depths is to use high pressure water jetting to lubricate (soften) the soil below the concrete cylinder. A high pressure line is forced down the center of the concrete piles blasting water into the soil making the piles install easier. Common sense tells us that if your home was built on expanding clay soils and you are having foundation issues, the introduction of more water into these soils is not a good solution. Good for the contractor yes, good for your home – No!

In addition to inadequate depth, and cheap materials, the fact that the pilings are stacked on top of one another introduces another problem. Expansive soils can push them out of alignment, thus seriously damaging the integrity of the pilings. Homes that have been “leveled” with concrete piers will need annual adjustments, and the cracking in walls and displaced doors will continue. In other words, your foundation will neither be repaired nor leveled. You will have paid for someone to do work, but that’s really about it.

For a foundation repair system that works, contact Superior Foundation Repair in Austin and San Antonio to level your foundation. Read about our steel pier house leveling process, and 11 reasons to use steel piers to level your home.