foundation repair

Foundation Repair-Underpinning with Hybrid Piers

The three most common ways of underpinning a home foundation in need of repair are steel piers, pre-cast concrete cylinders (or push piers) and the drilled bell bottom piers. Each method has it’s pros and cons and affects the cost of foundation repair.

Steel piers can be shoved into the ground deeper than concrete cylinders because they have a smaller diameter. Using concrete cylinders provides more surface area for the “skin friction” concept of engineering. The drilled bell bottom piers is the oldest method of foundation repair and still widely used although this method takes the most time.

I’m watching TV the other day and here comes a commercial for the Olshan foundation company pitching a combination of steel and concrete cylinders for a foundation fix.

Here’s the claim: (more…)

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House Foundation May Need Some Underpinning

foundation_repair_email_iconHere is an email exchange I had recently with a guy who relocated, is new to heavy clay soils and thinks he may be in for a foundation fix.

Subject: Old house, slab foundation, clay soil, big trees, and the drought!

Dear Digger,

My family moved from Columbia, MO to a 21-yr old house in Sugar Land, TX in December 2010. Over the past few months, I have observed and learned big lessons about the house and its foundation, the swell/shrink clay soil in this region, one monstrous oak tree and another two big trees nearby, and the exceptional dry weather condition facing the entire state of Texas. I have a family of seven.

On top of my daily duties, I am feeling overwhelmed by the acuteness of the situation, signified by brick wall crack, pulled away soil, cracked door/window frames, wood siding separation, etc. (more…)

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Need Foundation Repair? Blame it On “Climate Change”

If you need a foundation fix, it might be because of climate change (formally known as “global warming”) At least that is the gist of an article written last year that I ran across in the New York times.

We know that homes built on expansive clay soils that swell during rainy periods, then shrink during dry spells cause a lot of problems for concrete slab foundations.

What I didn’t know was that these periods of dry weather followed by heavy rains have become more frequent and possibly triggered by climate change according to this NY Times article. Really? Here is a quote:

“Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association indicates that since the 1990s there has been an accelerating trend nationwide toward more extended dry periods followed by downpours. Whether due to random climate patterns or global warming, the swings between hot and dry weather and severe rain or snow have profoundly affected soil underneath buildings.” (more…)

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Slab Foundations – Repairing with the Bell Bottom Pier

Foundation contractors sometimes offer up to three methods of underpinning a house foundation. These three main methods of repair include pushed concrete piers, steel piers and the drilled or bell bottom pier.

I’ve run across one company that says the bell bottom pier is the best way to go. It is the oldest method, most tested and most reliable form of underpinning a house with foundation problems. It is the type of pier used in highway and major commercial construction and has been for years. The company is Dawson Foundation Repair and has locations across Texas.

A Slab Foundation on Heavy Clay Soil is Subject to Movement

During the rainy season, clay soils expand with the added moisture. When the soils dry out the clay soils shrink. This can cause not only up and down movement of your foundation but also lateral movement. And this can cause the classic signs of foundation problems…diagonal cracks in the walls, inside and out, doors and windows that don’t work right and uneven floors.  (more…)

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Was Your Slab Foundation Level to Begin With?

If you have your concrete slab  foundation inspected by either a repair contractor, or better yet, an independent professional structural engineer, you are likely to get an elevation report produced by one of two tools:

A  Compu Level or a manometer.  When I had my inspection done, the engineer used a Compu Level. I received a report that detailed variances in elevation from one end of my slab to the other. For example, there was a 3-4 inch drop in one corner of the house when compared to the center of the slab.

Nice to know. I suppose. But in practical terms, what does that really tell you? Unless you have a benchmark of some kind to compare the readings against, not a whole lot.  Do I have elevation readings from when the slab was newly poured? No. (more…)

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