If you have been told that your home has serious foundation damage and is becoming unstable, it can be hard to know just what to do. These issues are some of the most serious that any homeowner can face, and they will not go away on their own. In fact, problems with your foundation are guaranteed to get worse over time, which makes dealing with them as quickly as possible a must. Foundation Recovery Systems has been helping homeowners in your position since 1993; we know what it takes to make a home safe again, and we guarantee that we will find a solution for you. Helical piers are just one of the potential solutions we can offer, but they are one of the most effective.
What Are Helical Piers (And How do They Work)?
Helical piers are foundation repair and support tools that are driven into the soil below the frost line via a hydraulic system. Made of steel, these foundation underpinnings contain helices (just like a screw) and are used to support structures that lie on challenging soil that cannot properly support a traditional foundation system. They can also be used to repair a badly damaged foundation that is cracking or sinking.
The number of helical piers required to stabilize a home that has a damaged foundation really depends on the extent of the damage and the size of the property. It all depends on the predetermined load capacity that must be met – the need to calculate this is one of the main reasons you should call an expert. Generally installed 10 to 30 feet below the surface, these galvanized steel underpinnings do not rust or corrode and can be used on buildings that range from small family homes to 10 story complexes.
Foundation Recovery Systems only uses the best helical piers. We prefer heavy steel helical piers that are designed to bear enormous weight and have proprietary elements that enhance their durability and corrosion resistance. We also favor round shaft piers, which are far more comfortable with compression as opposed to tension; traditional square-shaft piers were designed for use in the utility industry and can bend when compressed.
Are Helical Piers Right for Me?
It’s hard to know whether helical piers are right for your home if you have no background in foundation repair. This is why it is important to involve professionals as soon as you notice a problem. However, if you notice these warning signs in your home, you may be in need of helical pier installation or other foundation repair procedures:
Uneven floors are the most obvious and serious red flag when it comes to the health of your foundation. If you notice a tilt or lean to your floors, it is very likely that your foundation is damaged or sinking as a result of soil erosion or instability.
Cracks in your basement floor are a sign that something is going on with your foundation. If you notice cracks that seem to be spreading or widening, it is time to call an expert in.
Dampness is often the first sign that something is wrong in your basement. If you notice your basement floors are continually damp or you see pools of standing water on your basement floor, you should book an inspection. While there can be many causes of dampness, there is a chance that it is a symptom of foundation damage.
Installing helical piers will address these issues and re-stabilize your foundation. The biggest benefit of helical pier installation, however, is that it removes the need for total foundation replacement. A total replacement is not only more expensive but does not actually address the main issue — the soil beneath your foundation.
Helical piers are foundation underpinnings that look like large screws. They are installed beneath the frost line in the soil under a home to support the foundation of a property where the soil is not strong enough to do so. They perform a number of roles, including:
- Weight Transference
The main role of helical piers is to bear and spread the weight of a property when the soil it rests on is not competent to hold it safely. This can be needed for a number of reasons, including poor drainage surrounding your property, poorly compacted backfill soil, or even fundamentally incompetent soil underneath your whole foundation. This has a lot to do with the type of soil you have under your home and whether or not your property was designed to compensate for this.
If the property was not designed with mechanisms to mitigate insecure or weak soil under your home, it can shift, causing the property to sink or slip. Helical piers circumvent this issue by bearing the weight of a property and transferring it to load-bearing strata or soil deep beneath the frost-line. This essentially removes the issue by bypassing the unsuitable soil entirely.
- Support and Stabilization
Helical piers provide support to areas of your property’s foundation that are otherwise vulnerable or under too much pressure. They do this by transferring the weight of your property and stabilizing your foundation. By providing support, they ease the pressure on your property as a whole and limit the damage that a shifting, sinking, or uneven structure can do.
If you have already noticed some signs of damage—for example, spreading cracks, dampness, or uneven flooring—helical piers may do something to address the cosmetic signs of damage, but they are primarily designed to address the underlying causes of the damage. Once you have helical piers installed, you will be able to address the cosmetic issues with ease.
Helical piers may be suggested as a solution for a settling foundation for a number of reasons, especially when push piers are found to be unsuitable for the current situation. The most obvious reason is to ensure safety and stability, but there are other reasons this solution is suggested in particular.
- Heavily Damaged Foundation
There are a number of potential reasons as to why push piers may be unsuitable for your home, but serious structural damage to a property’s foundation is one of the most common. If your foundation is seriously damaged—for example, with many deep cracks—push piers may not be a suitable solution. In fact, they could exacerbate the damage.
Helical piers are also better in certain kinds of soil or terrain because they spread the weight evenly and minimize the chances of the piers themselves slipping or sinking. In these cases, helical piers will be deployed as an alternative to give you the best results in the long term. After all, foundation repairs should be a one-time thing!
- Light Property
One issue few homeowners think about when it comes to foundation repair is the issues that come with a very light property; most are concerned with excessive weight. You see, push piers rely on the weight of a property to set them in place, and if your property is quite small or light, this could be an issue. A professional may suggest helical piers as the best possible solution.
Helical piers are far better for very light properties because they essentially set themselves in place. This is due to the way in which they “screw” into the ground (for lack of a more elegant term). By setting themselves without needing the weight of your home, helical piers offer a versatile solution for properties of all sizes and conditions.
The installation of helical piers requires excavation of the soil around your home and an understanding of the load capacity that must be met to provide an efficient repair. The best option is to have a professional install these intricate systems.
- This is a Specialist Task
The number of specialist tools, skills, and knowledge required to properly place and install helical piers is immense. Plus, this is a heavy task that requires more than one person to ensure safe completion and optimal results. From excavation to pier installation, you will need heavy machinery and special skills to even prepare your home for helical pier installation, let alone undertake the process with any kind of skill.
Furthermore, because foundation work is incredibly intensive, it requires special tools and equipment. While a foundation specialist will have these tools on hand, the average contractor is not likely to, and few (if any) homeowners will. As such, you will need to buy the equipment needed if you intend to go it alone, and there are safety issues to consider. This is another reason to call in the experts!
- Incorrect Placement is Dangerous
If you do manage to find the equipment and people to help you install helical piers, there is a real danger that you could install them incorrectly. This is not just dangerous to your home but could be dangerous to your health and well-being (as well as anyone you may have helping you). As such, it is really best to call in a professional when you need helical piers.
After all, alongside the obvious risks of injury during excavation and installation, there is a very real chance that you will install the piers improperly. Improper placement or sub-standard installation could lead to the continuation of the issues you are currently experiencing, the exacerbation of existing damage, or even the formation of new problems.
The Installation Process
The team at Foundation Recovery Systems is well-versed in helical pier installation and can expertly calculate the number of piers you are likely to need based on the size of your home. Depending on the severity of the damage, the number of piers can range from two or three to 40 or more. If your inspector decides that helical piers are the best possible solution for the structural instability you are experiencing, they will provide you with a quote that provides an accurate idea of the cost of repairs. They will also be able to tell you how long the repairs are likely to take and whether temporary supports should be installed in your home.
Our main goal is keeping you and your family safe at every stage in this process. Once we have a set date to begin repairs, you can relax; we’ll do everything. Our team will do their best to make the process of installation quick and seamless, but helical pier installation is a major repair, and as such, you may experience some disruption. The process of installation goes like this:
- Excavation of soil around your foundation
- Helical shaft insertion and setting
- Foundation bracket installation
- Stabilization and soil backfilling
Once all the helical piers have been installed, you also have the option of attempting to lift your foundation back to its original level position. If you choose to do so, additional pressure will be applied to each of the piers in an effort to lift the settling sections, close cracks and gaps, and restore the foundation.
While this can be a disruptive process, you have our word that we will leave your home as we found it. Our team will not leave you with clean-up to complete. Furthermore, once the installation is complete, you should be able to forget about your foundation entirely; this is a durable, long-term solution that should never need revisiting once it has been properly installed.
Why Choose Foundation Recovery Systems?
There are, of course, many foundation and basement repair specialists in the Greater St. Louis and Kansas City area, and it’s only natural that you should want the very best when it comes to your foundation. After all, your home’s foundation keeps the property on its feet – literally. If you book a free foundation inspection and repair quote with Foundation Recovery Systems, your inspector will not only explain what problems they have identified, they will walk you through their suggested repairs. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, either. We are proud of our communicative, customer-centered approach; your inspector will walk you through each suggested repair and their reasons for that choice. By the time they leave, you will have an idea of the scale and cost of repairs as well as information on our flexible financing options.
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