Foundation Failure Can Be Dangerous

February 25th, 2013

Foundation failure can be extremely dangerous if left uncorrected for too long. Unfortunately the signs of a failing foundation usually present themselves once the problem has already become serious. These signs include cracked walls, uneven floors, cracked tiles and windows or doors that do not open and close properly. If experience any of these foundation issues in your home, it is best to call a professional foundation contractor to schedule an inspection in order to find out if any further action should be taken.

Foundation failure is often caused by the soil that lay beneath the structure. Usually the problematic soils contain clay. Once this clay is wet, it often dries differently in some areas causing your foundation to shift or “settle.” The factors that contribute to moisture in the soil range from weather, poor drainage, plumbing leaks and even tree roots can upset the soil underneath your foundation.

A common solution for a damaged foundation is called piering, or underpinning. Piering is the process of lifting and stabilizing a building’s foundation. There are usually two styles of steel piers used for this; helical and resistance piers. Both are acceptable, though each are designed for a specific type of foundation. A certified foundation repair specialist can help you decide which piering system is best for your home.

Resistance piers are hydraulically pressed straight down into the soil with the weight of the structure acting as a counter balance. These piers go down until they reach a layer of soil hard enough to support it. These types of piers work best in situations where the structure that needs to be raised has a very heavy load constraint.

Helical piers are hydraulically twisted into the soil similar to a corkscrew. These piers have plates that help pull the pier into the ground. As with resistance piers, the helical piers will stop going down once they have reached soil that’s heavy enough to support it. Helical piers are extremely useful on slopes, hillsides, or on uneven land, because of the way they screw into the ground. Helical piers can also be used during pre-construction. These are installed when there might be some questionable soil beneath the new foundation. Some soils may not be able to carry the load of the structure and this is where pre-construction helical piers may be useful.

Both types of foundation piers attach to the base of the foundation with special brackets and extend through the settling and unstable soil layers, transferring the weight of your home to competent soils or bedrock. If possible, the home is also lifted back to its original, level position.

While it can be an expensive job to stabilize a foundation, the price if your home is destroyed by foundation failure would be devastating. The price of piering or underpinning can vary depending on several factors including the type of piers needed or how deep the piers will need to be installed. This is not a job where you want to go with the cheapest company around. The certified team of specialists at North Bay Foundation Repair Pros offer expert residential, commercial and new construction foundation repair services throughout the North Bay Area. If your home is showing signs of foundation issues, contact us today for your free foundation repair estimate.

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