What Is the Best Method of Pier and Beam Foundation Repair?

March 19, 2020

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As with any other home maintenance, it’s vital to schedule pier and beam foundation repair as soon as you notice signs of foundation damage. Ignoring needed repairs often allows cracks and chips to grow, and for a home to settle and shift, leading to interior damage as well.

Having a home re-shimmed is an excellent choice for minor pier and beam foundation damage, while some homes require wood beam replacement. Pier and beam foundation repair costs average from $1200 to over $10,000 depending on the size of the home and extent of damage.

Your best method of pier and beam foundation repair depend on your home’s foundation construction, extent of damage, and if you have the budget for upgrading to a new, more durable foundation. Only a foundation repair company near you can note the damage to your home’s foundation and recommend needed repairs, but you might consider some added information about pier and beam foundations overall.

It’s also good to consider signs of foundation damage and when it’s time for a new foundation versus repairs. This information will help you make the right decision when it comes to your choices for pier and beam foundation repairs.

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What Is Needed for Pier and Beam Foundation Repair?

Modern pier and beam foundations are elevated wood platforms, usually sitting about 18” to 24” off the ground and resting on concrete beams. Older pier and beam foundations sat on wood beams or even tree stumps! Knowing the cause of pier and beam foundation damage and repair options might help you decide the best method for your home.

  • Many of today’s pier and beam foundations have a concrete pier running all the way around the perimeter of the home, providing added structural support for the house.
  • Pier and beam foundations include joists, or thick beams running horizontally and vertically. The condition of these joists affects the extent of needed repairs and overall costs.
  • Termites are a common culprit of pier and beam foundation damage! Rodents also tend to chew away at wood posts and beams, leading to severe cracks and other damage.
  • Mold, mildew, moss, and algae tend to grow in tiny cracks and fissures along wood surfaces. These contaminants then continue to grow and spread, enlarging those cracks and leading to severe foundation damage.
  • Repair to concrete piers might include lifting with pressed pilings, meaning new support beams. Steel or concrete pilings add strength to a foundation and help support a home overall.
  • Rotted joists need replacing rather than patching or other such repairs.
  • Re-shimming a home refers to lifting floors of a pier and beam house and inserting steel shims between the floors and joists. Supports might need replacing if they’ve failed or rotted.
  • Treating a termite or rodent infestation is vital before replacing wood beams. Your property might require fumigation or your home might need a protective barrier around the wood beam foundation, to prevent future damage.
  • For homes with extensive mold or other such contamination, a new ventilation system might be required. Added vents or even mechanical ventilation systems help remove moisture and humidity, keeping wood dry and preventing future mold growth.

Remember when choosing a pier and beam foundation repair method to ensure you address the cause of that damage. If your property is prone to rodents, for instance, fumigation might not be sufficient for keeping mice and rats away from a wood foundation. Upgrading to concrete beams is a better long-term investment.

Signs of Needed Pier and Beam Foundation Repair

It’s never recommended that a homeowner enter their home’s crawlspace for any reason and especially to check for suspected foundation damage. Crawlspaces are dirty and musty and often home to mice and other pests, and it’s quite easy to injure yourself on damaged foundation sections. A homeowner might also overlook signs of needed foundation repair during their inspection!

Rather than relying on a quick inspection of your home’s crawlspace, you might consider some signs of needed pier and beam foundation damage and needed repairs. It’s also good to schedule a foundation inspection every few years by a nearby foundation repair company, to note the overall condition of the foundation and schedule repairs as soon as they’re needed!

Interior cracks along walls and ceilings are a sign of foundation damage; as a home settles and shifts on its broken foundation, interior walls and ceilings come apart and split, and cracks then form. You might also note sudden gaps between baseboards and walls, ceilings and walls, and other such surfaces.

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As walls shift and move on a faulty foundation, they also take shelves, pictures, curtains, cupboard doors, and other items with them! If you notice that pictures on a wall suddenly hang crooked and refuse to stay in place after you straighten them, shelves and curtains look a bit lopsided, and cupboard doors hang open, this often means the walls are moving out of place and your home needs foundation repairs.

Interior doors and windows also need level and even frames for proper operations. When a home settles on a damaged foundation, doorframes and window frames become crooked. Doors then tend to move slightly on their own and windows tend to squeak and stick. You might also notice sudden drafts around windows, due to cracks forming along the frame.

Plumbing pipes might also move out of position as a foundation cracks and shifts. You might notice sudden clogs, slow moving drains, gurgling sounds, and other plumbing issues in the home. While there are many reasons for a home to experience sudden plumbing problems, if you’ve ruled out tree roots, water leaks, and other common causes, consider scheduling a foundation inspection for your home!

How to Prevent Pier and Beam Foundation Damage

The best way to keep your pier and beam foundation in good repair is to avoid reasons for damage in the first place! Installing a high-quality ventilation system meant for crawlspaces is an excellent choice for keeping a pier and beam foundation in good condition. Humidity leads to wood root as well as mold growth, while a ventilation system designed specifically for pier and beam foundations keeps wood dry and in good condition.

Repairing or even replacing a faulty foundation is also an excellent way to avoid severe and costly damage. Re-shimming a house at the first sign of foundation cracks or replacing old wood beams with stronger, more durable concrete or steel beams helps avoid settling and shifting on a faulty foundation, and reduces the need for interior repairs.

Regular foundation inspections is also recommended especially for wood pier and beam foundations. A foundation repair contractor might note small cracks, developing wood rot, and other signs of damage. Addressing those repairs keeps them from getting worse over time, saving you money in the long run.

A foundation inspection might also note ways of keeping that foundation in good repair. Your foundation technician might note areas needing shims or other such bracing, or might note that your home’s crawlspace is overly humid and at risk of developing wood rot in the future. Investing in a thorough inspection can then save you money in the long run.

How Long Should Foundation Piers Last?

A pier and beam foundation lifespan depends on the quality of materials and its installation. Some concrete and steel beams might last 75 years or longer, depending on their thickness and a property’s soil conditions. Some pier and beam foundations offer lifetime guarantees, so your home’s foundation might actually outlast you!

It’s vital to understand that all foundations are at risk of developing holes, cracks, and other damage, as many homeowners assume that slab foundations or basements are more durable than pier and beam foundations. Outdated wood pier and beam foundations might be prone to more damage over time but today’s foundation materials are designed and built to last for decades.

Related Questions

What is foundation underpinning?

Foundation underpinning refers to a process of strengthening a structure’s foundation, providing added durability to the foundation and reducing the risk of long-term foundation damage. Underpinning might include adding more layers to the concrete slab perimeter, installing beams or pins to a concrete slab, or adding more beams to a pier and beam foundation.

Does foundation repair damage landscaping?

In some cases, a foundation repair company needs to remove bushes or flowers to access a home’s slab foundation or crawlspace. Most companies will attempt to preserve those greens or notify the homeowner so he or she can transplant them or keep them safe during repairs.

Should you buy a home that needs pier and beam foundation repair?

As the extent of damage is different for every foundation, there is no way to tell if you should buy a particular home needing pier and beam foundation repair. A foundation repair contractor can note the extent of damage and estimated cost, and you can then decide if you should buy the house as-is, lower your asking price, or move on to another home on the market!

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