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  • A reliable local company that stands by their word and takes pride and care in their work. - D. Golding

foundation repair method

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.

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Spreader Footing Foundation Repair graphicSpread Footers are another common method of foundation repair which many foundation repair companies employ. Much like Drilled Bell concrete piers, though, Spread Footers are better suited for new foundation construction, and are typically better suited for areas with stable soil. A simple google search for spread footing foundation yields a variety of topics related to new construction, bridge construction, and commercial construction.

The Wikipedia definition of Spread Footers is:

Spread footing foundations consists of strips or pads of concrete (or other materials) which transfer the loads from walls and columns to the soil or bedrock. Embedment of spread footings is controlled by several factors, including development of lateral capacity, penetration of soft near-surface layers, and penetration through near-surface layers likely to change volume due to frost heave or shrink-swell. (wikipedia:Shallow Foundation)

Spread Footers are designed to act as extra support for a foundation and to distribute the load of the foundation equally among stable soil. However, in order to work properly they involve extensive geo-technical and/or structural engineering design to account for a multitude of variables. Most foundation repair contractors will not have the technical know how to properly design Spread Footers.

Major Disadvantages Related to Installing Post-Construction Spread Footers include:

  1. Spread footers being installed too shallow, oftentimes just 2-3 feet below a foundation, which does not eliminate the effects of expansive soils.
  2. Because they are resting on expansive soils, they will need to be adjusted annually, while cracks and cosmetic damage will continue to form in the house, of which, the costs of repair will be the responsibility of the homeowner.
  3. Many contractors will use inadequate concrete for repair which is not designed to support the weight of the structure.
  4. Foundation Repair will last longer than a week as the excavations are made and the concrete will have to cure before the holes can be refilled.

Many independent engineers recommend Steel Piers for foundation repair because they offer the greatest support. By specializing in steel piers anchored to bedrock, Superior Foundation Repair understands the effects of expansive soils found in Central Texas and the best way to counteract them, while securely stabilizing a home. If you have had an engineer evaluate your foundation contact us for a free estimate on the cost of foundation repair for your home.

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Dan Golding - Austin RealtorFirst of all – Definitely use a steel pier foundation repair system instead of concrete piers. Steel piers are more stable in the long term and they don’t settle like concrete piers do. Concrete piers are bigger and heavier and therefore naturally settle over time if not driven all the way to the bedrock. Concrete piers are also more invasive to your property. They are much bigger in diameter than steel piers, so they require a much bigger hole to be dug around your house or cut inside the slab of your house. Superior Foundation Repair in Austin uses quality steel piers and they drive them all the way to the bedrock!

As a residential remodeler and licensed Realtor here in Austin I have dealt with many of the local foundation companies and if you are looking for a reliable, Austin foundation repair company that stands by their word and takes pride and care in their work then Superior Foundation Repair is the one. I have worked with them on several houses and been satisfied every time. If you really want to find out why Superior Foundation Repair is the best then compare their honest, lifetime, transferrable warranty to those of other companies whose warranties are full of loopholes and pages of legal disclaimers.

Another thing is that when you use the biggest foundation companies in town then that company’s marketing costs, advertising costs and office expenses have to be factored into the prices they quote you. I recommend spending your dollars more wisely.

If you want a quality, pier house leveling system that is expertly installed by a company that stands behind its warranty then call Superior Foundation Repair.

—–

Dan Golding is a Certified, GREEN Designated Realtor & Residential Remodeler working for Casa Grande Realty.

Contact Dan via email:  DanGolding.Realtor@gmail.com

or phone:   (512) 590-2786

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Drilled Bell concrete pier image

Drilled bell concrete piers are a common method of foundation repair, but are actually best suited for newly constructed homes and structures. The installation of bell bottom piers in previously existing structures presents a myriad of problems.

Installing Drilled Bell Piers

First, let’s take a look at how Drilled Bell piers are installed in a house. Shafts are dug diagonally underneath a home’s foundation from the exterior of the structure. Once they reach the appropriate depth, either stable soil or bedrock, the bottom of the shaft is widened using special bits to create a bell shaped “foot”. The shaft is often reinforced with steel rebar before concrete is poured into it (further reading). Once the shaft is filled with concrete, the concrete must cure for 1-2 weeks. Upon completion of curing, the house is lifted and placed on top of the Drilled Bell piers.

The numerous Disadvantages of this Method as it Relates to Foundation Repair:

  1. First, an enormous amount of excavation is required and the excavated soil must be redistributed somewhere.
  2. In order to drill underneath the house heavy equipment will be placed next to the home causing considerable disturbance to adjacent landscaping.
  3. Also the vibrations of the drills, depending on their intensity, can cause foundations to crack further.
  4. Water may seep into the shafts before the concrete is poured causing the bell foot (the support) to be compromised. Any water seepage must be addressed before the concrete can be poured.
  5. The presence of toxic or flammable gasses may prevent thorough inspection of the shafts (book: Design of Foundation Systems).
  6. Upon curing of the concrete, pressure is applied, usually using bottle jacks, to the outter edges of the foundation to lift the structure up onto the piers.
  7. It is not possible to install interior bell piers on existing structures.
  8. The process takes 2-3 weeks before it is completed

So it is easy to see that drilled bell concrete piers installed in existing structures are not a viable option of foundation repair. If your home or business was built on top of belled piers, you will have adequate support.

Steel Piers compared to Drilled Bell Piers

In comparison, Superior’s Steel Pier foundation leveling process requires minimal excavation, no curing time for concrete, the installation usually lasts no longer than 3 days, can be installed in the interior of the house, does not depend on soil for support, and causes minimal disturbance to landscaping around the house. Because our steel piers reach all the way to solid bedrock, your home is protected against the effects of expanisve soils prevalent in our area of Central Texas, thus effectively counteracting the most common cause of foundation problems in our area.

Further Reading on Drilled Bell Concrete Piers:

myfoundationrepair.com
foundationdoctor.info
theconstructor.org

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Simple Pressed Pilings - Foundation RepairSuperior Foundation Repair will be examining disadvantages of various foundation repair methods, over the coming weeks, with an in depth look at why these methods are inferior to Steel Piers. The first type of foundation repair we will expose is the often used method of concrete pressed pilings.

Disadvantages of Concrete Pressed Pilings

In homes with Simple Pressed Concrete Piling Foundation Repair, concrete cylinders are driven underneath the home’s foundation one on top of the other using the weight of the slab to press them down until they cannot go any further (known as the point of resistance). Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell what this point of resistance is, it could be bedrock, stable soil or unstable soil. Most engineers agree this method of Foundation Repair is not the correct solution for foundation problems because expansive soil will continue affecting pilings after installation. When the soil expands it can work it’s way in between pilings and completely nullify the support this method is intended to provide (see picture above for example of piling displacement).

There is no factor of safety built into Concrete pressed pilings

The factor of safety is defined as “the structural capacity of a system beyond the applied loads or actual loads” by Wikipedia. Because the weight of the structure is used to press the pilings down until they can go no further, simple concrete pressed pilings have a factor of safety ratio of 1:1 which means any significant weight additions, have a great potential to cause foundation instability. According to Wikipedia: “Buildings commonly use a factor of safety of 2.0 for each structural member.”  This means foundation piers should be able to support the sturcture’s weight times 2 at the least. Superior’s Steel Pier Method supports a structure’s weight comfortably with a safety factor significantly greater than 2 by anchoring the structure to solid bedrock, which prevents future additions in weight to a house, i.e. add-ons, new furniture, etc, from causing any negative affect on a home’s foundation. Superior’s Steel Piers are certified by Independent Engineer Consultants.

Pressed Pilings installed in dry or unstable soil may sink upon the introduction of moisture

Because Texas experiences long periods of dry weather followed by wet weather, the soil moisture content is continuosly changing, causing expansion/contraction of soil (further reading: Article from Geology.com, Blog post on Expansive Soils in Texas, Article from USinspect.com). Therefore pressed pilings inserted into dry soil are unstable from the start. If the point of resistance is on unstable soil, increased moisture can cause the piers to sink further into the ground, or, if the soil is stable, expansion will cause the piers to move.

Oftentimes companies will pre-soak the soil to drive the pressed pilings as deep as possible. This is to prevent the pilings from sinking in times of increased rainfall. Introducing large amounts of water into soil is not good for any home at any time, under any circumstances. Superior’s Galvanized Steel Piers are driven through the soil until they reach the bedrock up to 100 feet below the surface, effectively securing a home’s foundation to a solid rock, which is unaffected by shrinking and swelling.

Further Reading on Simple Pressed Concrete Pilings:

An excellent article on the disadvantages of Simple Pressed Concrete Piers from myfoundationrepairs.com

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