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Homeowners Guide: Foundation Repair with Piers

April 5, 2023

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Is foundation repair with piers possible and do those fixes last? These are fair questions from any homeowner. After all, underpinning and other foundation repair often runs several thousand dollars. In turn, you want to know that your investment is worth it for your home!

In short, foundation repair with piers is typically very stable and reliable and lasts for decades. However, to ensure you make the right choice for your home, consider some added details about this process. Then, contact a foundation repair contractor near you. They can perform an inspection and note the best repair method for your property.

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What Is Foundation Repair With Piers?

To better decide if foundation repair with piers is right for your property, it helps to understand the process! Typically, a contractor performs underpinning with the following steps:

  • First, they should inspect the foundation thoroughly, figuring the best place for those piers. Also, a contractor should note how far a home has settled.
  • Next, a contractor and crew dig excavations around damaged or sunken areas of the foundation.
  • Your contractor then inserts piers or pins into these excavations. These piers are typically made of steel, for maximum strength.
  • The pins attach to the foundation via brackets or metal plates along their top and sides.
  • Specialty hydraulics then left the pins as needed. This step brings the foundation and property back into a level position.
  • Note that the pins stay attached to the foundation after it’s lifted. In turn, they provide support against future damage.
  • Your contractor and crew will then refill those excavations.

This process varies slightly for concrete slab foundations, as they don’t have walls or sides to which the pins attach. Instead, a contractor will dig tall columns under the foundation. Next, the contractor fills those with concrete while raising the foundation in place.

Those concrete piers then dry and cure and stay in position. As with pins or piers, they provide support for the foundation over the years.

Do Foundation Piers Really Work?

The short answer is yes, foundation piers or pins are an excellent choice for any home. First, their solid materials aren’t likely to crack or sink, ensuring they last for decades. Second, those piers provide added support for a foundation, as said. In turn, your home isn’t likely to settle or sink after underpinning.

Also, note that a foundation contractor also lifts or “jacks up” a house during the underpinning process. In some cases, they might use a slab jacking process with underpinning. This process injects thick slurries under the home. These slurries expand as they dry, also lifting a home and keeping it supported.

Moreover, piers and pins stay in position even when surrounded by shifting soil. This also helps to keep a foundation strong, resisting cracks and other damage. In conclusion, foundation piers, pins, and concrete cylinders are typically an excellent investment for any home!

What Is the Best Foundation Repair Method?

There is no “best” foundation repair method, as recommended fixes depend on your home’s foundation design and damage extent. Check out some common repair methods that your contractor might recommend:

  • A contractor might address bowing basement walls with carbon fiber straps. They attach these long straps along the walls and tightens them into position. The straps push those walls back and keep them supported.
  • Carbon fiber straps are also an excellent solution for raised slabs bowing inward or outward. They push that bowing area into position and keep the concrete supported over time.
  • Cracked basement walls might only need patching or stapling. Patching fills in holes, repelling water and prevents deeper cracks from forming. Heavy-duty staples also close those gaps and cracks.
  • Waterproofing can correct issues related to poor drainage. A contractor might excavate around the foundation and then install a heavy-duty membrane. This membrane keeps water away and ensures the foundation stays protected.
  • Underpinning is excellent for homes that have already settled along one side or the other. Those pins push that sunken area back into position and keep it there. Pins and piers also provide added support, as said.
  • Foundation leveling corrects slight unevenness in a foundation. Those slurries help to lift it into position and keep it stable. However, leveling or slab jacking isn’t always as durable as underpinning.
  • For pier and beam foundations, a contractor might recommend shimming. These wedge-shaped blocks, pounded between piers and beams, prop up a home and keep it stable.
  • Contractors might also recommend replacing severely damaged piers in a crawl space.

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What Happens If You Don’t Fix Your Foundation?

A home sitting on a faulty foundation isn’t likely to collapse outright. However, this doesn’t mean you can ignore cracks and other issues! There are many reasons to invest in foundation repair no matter its cost:

  • Cracks along concrete slabs and basements let moisture seep in. That moisture softens the concrete, so it becomes even weaker.
  • A home’s framing absorbs moisture making its way into the home through a damaged foundation. Damp framing often cracks and warps, letting a home sink.
  • Moisture along a foundation, framing, and other materials encourages mold, mildew, and dampness in the home. Mold is unhealthy and damages building materials including wood framing, carpet, and drywall.
  • Mold, mildew, and general dampness due to a faulty foundation often mean unpleasant odors.
  • Dampness in a home attracts insects and rodents looking for a water source! Not only are these pests unpleasant and unhealthy, but they can also damage framing, drywall, insulation, wiring, and other materials.
  • Weak foundations let a house settle so that it pulls apart surfaces and building materials. This is why you often see cracks form around properties with damaged foundations. Foundation issues can also risk roof cracks and plumbing leaks.
  • A damaged foundation typically affects property values! In turn, you might struggle to sell your house and end up losing equity over the years.

Foundation Repair Affecting Resale Value

Foundation damage can affect your home’s resale value, as said. In some cases, you might not even sell a home with a damaged foundation! Mortgage lenders don’t like to sign off on loans for homes that don’t pass inspection. In turn, a buyer might not even qualify for a loan needed to purchase your home.

On the other hand, a repaired foundation might not affect resale. Piers and pins last for decades, as said. A homebuyer might expect a repaired foundation to remain in good condition for the lifetime of ownership.

Moreover, preventative measures such as waterproofing can also prevent foundation damage. Waterproof membranes keep out damaging moisture and ensure a foundation stays dry. Investing in this service can then increase home value and bring in more buyers when you’re ready to sell. A home appraiser can offer more information about how foundation issues affect a home’s value.

How Long Do Concrete Piers Last?

Generally speaking, you can expect concrete piers to last 75 years or more. However, poor drainage and shifting soil can put pressure on those piers, shortening their lifespan. Also, poor-quality installation can allow them to settle and crack over time. Contractors should avoid this by using adequate rebar and letting the concrete cure properly.

Steel pins and piers are also durable and last for 50 to 75 years. Replacing piers in crawl spaces with new steel pins is also an excellent choice for durable fixes. Proper drainage along your property also provides added protection against premature damage. Your foundation repair contractor can provide more advice on how to protect underpinning over the years.

foundation needing repair and new piers

What Is the Best Foundation Type for a House?

As with foundation fixes, there is no “best” foundation type for a house. Instead, a property owner or potential homebuyer might consider how contractors create various foundations, and their pros and cons. Also, never hesitate to ask a foundation repair contractor for added advice about different foundation materials.

  • Many homeowners love basements because they mean added storage and living space. Also, where local building codes allow, a homeowner might create a rental unit in their basement. Basements also elevate a home slightly, which some homeowners prefer.
  • The downside of basements is that they can trap moisture and cold air. This can mean musty carpets upstairs and increased utility costs.
  • On-grade slab foundations, meaning a slab sitting directly on the ground, is cheap to install. Additionally, on-grade slabs mean no stairs, a bonus for anyone with joint pain or balance issues.
  • While slabs are cheap and easy to manage, they make it more difficult to access pipes and wiring. A contractor might even need to break through a home’s interior flooring to manage plumbing or electrical repairs.
  • A raised slab foundation is also cost-efficient but provides a slight elevation. This foundation type is excellent for homeowners who prefer the look of a home that sits slightly off the ground.
  • Pier and beam or crawl space foundations also lift the home off the ground. These are excellent for areas prone to flooding. Also, a crawl space allows for easier access to plumbing pipes and wiring. A homeowner can also use them for storage.
  • One negative aspect of crawl spaces is that they tend to trap moisture. This increases the risk of mold, wood rot, and mildewed carpets on the first floor.

What Is the Longest Lasting Foundation for a House?

Poured concrete is the longest-lasting foundation for a house. Concrete lasts for decades and is durable enough to hold up a home’s weight. Also, a concrete installer can pour the material in any fashion, so they can tailor a foundation’s design to suit any home’s size or design plan. In turn, homebuyers or those looking to construct a home might consider a basement or slab.

However, note that a full basement is typically the most expensive foundation option. Basements require lots of concrete for their construction and added labor for installation. However, homes with basements often have higher values than those without! This is because basements provide added square footage, making a home more desirable to buyers.

Also, note that a contractor might suggest a pier and beam foundation for sloped ground or areas prone to flooding. Building piers to individual sizes allows for a level foundation even if the ground isn’t flat. Raising a home onto piers also protects it against flood damage. Crawl spaces also offer that added space for storage and for accessing the home’s underside, as said.

How Do You Know It’s Time for Foundation Repair?

Never overlook the need for foundation repair on your property. Without a full inspection, how do you know it’s time to call a contractor? Note a few signs of foundation damage you might notice around your property:

  • Cracks inside and outside a home often indicate a sinking foundation. It’s especially vital that you schedule repairs if those cracks are getting longer or wider!
  • Never assume that a home’s basement should be musty or overlook standing water. These are often signs of cracked walls and floors in the space.
  • As a house shifts on a weak foundation, it might pull at tile grout. This allows floor tiles to shift out of place. If you notice this in your home, call a foundation contractor.
  • If you suspect foundation damage, use a carpenter’s level and check doorframes and window frames. If they’re out of level, this can indicate foundation damage.
  • When doorframes and window frames are out of level, doors and windows stick. You might also struggle to lock and unlock them easily.

Also, remember to schedule regular foundation inspections. These can alert you to developing damage so you can address it quickly.

Total Foundation Repair San Antonio is happy to help answer the question, is foundation repair with piers possible? Hopefully we’ve provided some useful information for homeowners! Also, don’t hesitate to check out our blog for more useful tips. You can also call our foundation repair contractors if you’re in the area and need expert services.

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