Foundation problems happen in every state of the country for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the foundation itself is defective or is damaged by an earthquake in areas of the country with active fault lines. The most common reason however, is soil movement beneath the foundation.
Foundation damage from soil movement is especially acute in Texas because of its expansive clay soil. During droughts, expansive clay soil shrinks and causes the foundation on top of it to sink. Often this sinking doesn’t happen evenly. Instead, one part of the foundation sinks faster than the rest which stresses and damages the foundation as well as the house resting on it.
This differential soil movement is caused by varying soil moisture levels around and under your foundation. A clogged gutter or excessive air conditioning condensate may cause water pooling next to the foundation. Plumbing leaks that reach the soil also cause differential soil movement.
Large trees have extensive root systems that seek moisture especially during droughts and can absorb tens or even hundreds of gallons of water a day. The roots of trees can extend well beyond their drip line. So if you have trees with branches over your roof, they very likely have roots under your foundation.
Lifting A House
Lifting a house to repair a foundation is accomplished by piering. This technique involves the placement of vertical piers deep into the soil beneath the sunken part of the foundation. Hydraulic jacks on the piers lift and level the sunken foundation section. The hydraulic jacks are then replaced by concrete blocks and shims. Cracks in the foundation and home often close as a result of this operation.
There is virtually no danger of the piers sinking because they are resting on either bedrock or a stable soil layer that is capable of holding the load. Because the foundation is resting on the piers, further soil shrinkage does not affect it.
Types Of Piering
Depending on individual circumstances, one of several pier types can be used to lift a house with its foundation. Three types commonly used are concrete piers, steel piers, and drilled piers.
- Concrete piers consist of several concrete sections that are pressed into the ground one on top of the other until a depth is reached that provides sufficient support. The sections are stabilized with cabling.
- Steel piers are made up of several interlocking pipe sections. Each section is pushed into the ground one above the other until a layer of soil is reached that is capable of supporting the load. Cabling is used to secure the sections together.
- Drilled piers are different from the previous two methods because holes are drilled into the ground below the foundation and then filled with rebar reinforced concrete rather than pressing pier sections into the ground.
Benefits Of Piering
Piering repairs the foundation and addresses the root cause of the failure which is shifting expansive clay soil. The piers connect the foundation to stable load bearing ground that sees little or no moisture changes because of its depth. This is a superior solution to replacing the foundation because a new foundation will still be resting on shifting clay soil and will be vulnerable to future soil shrinkage. Piering also takes less time to install and is less costly.
Is House Lifting The Solution For Your Foundation Issues?
This depends on the specifics of your situation and will require an inspection or evaluation by professionals.
Perma-Pier Foundation Repair has been repairing foundations for three generations. Our 15,000 foundation and drainage repair projects, plus our in-depth understanding of the geology of Texas prairie land soils, give us a level of expertise unmatched by others in the industry. If you have questions or concerns please contact us.