Piering – A Solution to Foundation Failure

Foundation failure can be dangerous if you do not correct the problem. Your house might actually become crooked. Unfortunately the signs of foundation failure do not present themselves until the problem has become serious. These signs included cracked walls, uneven flooring, cracked tiles and windows not closing right. If you notice any of these in your house, it would be wise to call a specialist to come in and do an investigation to find out for sure if you maybe have foundation failure.

This is caused by one thing. Most often or not the soil that foundation is laid on is the culprit. Usually soils that are under foundation that have problems contain clay. Once this clay is wet, it often will not dry the same across the board and this can lead to the problem of a failure. The factors that can contribute to the soil getting wet is many things, weather, poor drainage, pluming leaks, and even roots from trees can upset the soil under your foundation.

The solution to foundation failure is something called Piering or underpinning. Piering is the process of lifting and stabilizing your foundation. There are usually two styles of steel piers used for this. Both are acceptable though they each are designed for a specific foundation. Talk to your contractor to find out which pier he feels is best for your house.

First there are resistance piers which are hydraulically pressed straight down into the soil with the weight of the structure as counter balance. These piers go down until it reaches a layer of soil that is hard enough to support it. They work best in situations where the structure the needs to be raised has a very heavy load constraint.

Next are helical piers which are hydraulically twisted into the soil similar to how a corkscrew or a drill works. These piers consist of flights that will pull the pier into the ground. As with resistance piers the helical piers will stop going down once they reached soil that is heavy enough to support it. They cannot be pulled or pushed out. Helical piers are the most useful on slopes or hillside because of how they screw into the ground.

Helical piers can also come as pre-construction helical piers. These are installed where there might be some questionable soils. Some soils may not be enough to carry the load of the structure and this is where pre-construction piers would come in handy. They help prevent any future foundation failure.

After the piering are installed your contractor should give you a detailed report stating the exact location of the installed piers and also explain the hydraulic measurements. Keep this report with your important records.

The price of underpinning can vary depending on the type of piers you are using. Most commonly used are the either steel resistance piers or steel helical piers. Your price will also vary depending on how deep the piers need to go down. The deeper the depth the more money it is going to cost. Lastly you have to look at the labor costs. This is not job where you want to take the cheap way out. Yes this can be an expensive job, but think of the price if your house is destroyed by foundation failure.