His name is Dennis and he lives down the street from me. I was coming back from an errand and drove past his house.
All the tell-tale signs of a concrete foundation repair job in progress were there. Piles of dirt, piles of pilings, piles of caps.
I went home, grabbed my digital camera, walked back down the street and knocked on Dennis’ door to get the story.
He and his wife are both school teachers in a district about 40 miles east of Dallas. They want to sell the house and move closer to work. Dennis told me they had all the classic signs of concrete foundation problems: large cracks in interior and exterior walls and in the flooring.
The plan was to get the foundation fixed so it would not be a complication to selling the house.
In these parts we have a thing called the Texas Foundation Warranty Trust. If your foundation repair company participates in the program you get a transferable lifetime warranty to pass on to the buyers of your house.
If the foundation repair isn’t done right the first time they have to come back at no extra cost and make it good. It even covers the repair if the original contractor goes out of business. Most of the major players in Texas are a part of the warranty. There may be an extra cost to the price of the job but to Dennis the peace of mind was worth it.
So he chose one of the foundation repair companies that is part of the warranty program, is well known in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and who Dennis felt had a good reputation.
He didn’t use an independent engineer nor did he get estimates from other contractors like I would have.
Here is the method of repair this company uses:
Dennis reports they did visual inspections inside and out and then took measurements inside the house. They spread fluid filled tubing throughout the rooms that was connected to an instrument placed in the center of the house. (Maybe someone can tell me what that thingy would be called.)
It generated a contour map of the foundation that spoke in inches where underpinning and lifting was needed to achieve level. It would be used again during the final shimming after the piers were in place.
The foundation map showed slumping along the front of the house and the east side. The other two sides were fine. 14 piers would do the job. One pier was needed just inside the garage. A small section of the floor was cut away so a shaft could be dug.
The contractor uses an underpinning method common in Texas called pushed piers. Concrete pilings with a hollow space through the center are threaded over steel rebar.
A shaft is hand dug to a depth of three or four feet where the pier is to be built. Using the weight of the house as a fulcrum the pilings are hydraulically pressed (shoved) into the ground as shown below until they won’t go any deeper, known as the “point of refusal.”
The contractor told me they were hitting the point of refusal some ten feet below Dennis’ foundation. As the pilings are stacked over the rebar a grout mixture is poured down the hole that when cured it will protect the steel from moisture and help the stack become a stable pier.
As the stack reaches the foundation a cap is added that is wide enough to support two pilings providing a wider area of support to the slab.
The photo below shows a cap with one piling on the left waiting for it’s buddy to join him on the right. Metal shims will be added to the top of the two pilings to tweak the final height of the pier to achieve the required lift.
The weather was good, the job took two days. Dennis said his cost of foundation repair was just over six thousand dollars.
He seems to be a happy camper. The floor of his big tent is level once again.