If you have noticed that your basement floor is uneven, cracked, or tilted, it’s very likely that your foundation is no longer stable. An unstable foundation is a very serious problem and requires immediate professional attention to ensure it does not continue to degrade, causing untold damage to your home as it does so. What most homeowners don’t realize, however, is that foundation problems most often begin in the soil below your home.
What Causes an Unstable Foundation?
The foundation of your home is designed to withstand the weight and stress of the structure, but it, in turn, relies on the soil beneath it to provide a stable surface and support. This is why the most common foundational issues don’t actually begin in your foundation itself unless it was improperly constructed. Rather, structural issues tend to stem from your foundation resting on soil that is incapable of bearing the weight of your home. This may be because the soil is naturally marshy because recent changes in the weather or climate have saturated it with water, or even because the soil has dried out and shrunk.
Whatever the specific reason, when your foundation starts to sink, shift, or experience settlement, the issue is in the soil. As such, the solution has to address or mitigate the incompetence of the ground underneath your foundation. In the past, contractors would suggest expensive, disruptive, and time-intensive full foundation replacements. While this would solve the issue in the short term, the new foundation would inevitably begin to shift once more, causing the old issues to recur. This is because foundation replacement does not address the root cause of instability.
How Can Push Piers Help?
Push piers are types of foundation underpinning. Designed to restore foundational stability by addressing the root cause of a property’s sinking, settlement, or shifting, they push beneath the unsuitable soil to find load-bearing strata or bedrock to bear the weight of your building. Unlike helical piers, push piers rely on the weight of a building to push them against the bedrock and form a solid foundation. That’s why they are often called “resistance piers.”
Made of galvanized steel, push piers are designed to carry huge amounts of weight. Piers are installed with a factor of safety of 2, which means their allowable capacity is 30,000 pounds. In short, push piers help by addressing the cause of your foundation’s instability rather than the results of it.
How Do Push Piers Work?
Push piers work by displacing the weight being applied to non-competent soil and transferring it onto load-bearing strata or bedrock. They do so by using the weight of your home to push them down against a competent surface below the soil’s frost line. Once the weight is successfully transferred, the force of your home pushing down will effectively cement them in place, this not only ensures the stability of your home, but it prevents the need for future adjustment.
Installing Push Piers
The installation process is simple, but it can be messy and time-consuming. It also requires specialized equipment, which is why we always recommend that you hire a professional to undertake this process.
After all, the stability of your home depends on it. The installation process used by Foundation Recovery Systems has four steps.
Whether you require excavation in your yard or your yard and home depends entirely on where the push piers are to be placed. However, we will do our best to minimize the disruption to your home and yard.
Mounting Foundation Brackets
The foundational brackets that will secure your push piers will be installed first to help the piers find secure footing and the right placement with ease. Once the piers are installed and secured, these brackets will ensure they stay in place and spread the weight evenly.
Once the galvanized steel piers have been cut to the appropriate length, they will be hydraulically driven through the soil until they find secure footing on load-bearing strata. The number of piers installed will depend on the size of your house and the severity of the damage.
Once the piers have been safely installed and secured, the weight of your home will be transferred, carefully, from the unstable soil beneath it and onto the push piers. They will then use the competent soil or bedrock they are pushing against to permanently stabilize your home.
Once all the piers have been installed, you have the choice of either stabilizing your home at its present location or attempting to lift your home back to a level position. If you choose the latter, additional pressure will be applied to the piers. No matter your choice, this push pier system offers you the strength, durability, and lifespan of galvanized steel along with peace of mind.
Push pier installation requires specialized skills and tools that most homeowners do not have. This is why it is best to seek professional help and advice when you have concerns about your foundation. If you do not apply the right solution or don’t address the whole problem, you could run into worse trouble down the road.
- DIY Installation Could be a Disaster
In fact, trying to install them alone is almost guaranteed to end in tears because of the precision with which these piers must be installed. If one is installed at a slightly improper angle, it could cause huge damage to your property’s foundation, resulting in the need for even more costly repairs in the future. For example, a poorly placed push pier could start to bend, making it ineffective in providing support, but also making it harder to remove and replace.
Furthermore, foundation pier installation, or any kind of foundation repair, is specialist work that requires heavy excavation and specialist equipment. As well as being costly to undertake, this kind of work can be dangerous when you do not have the right training and tools. If you try to go it alone you could injure yourself and anyone helping you as well as exacerbating your property’s foundation problems.
- Professional Help Has Many Benefits
As such, it is very clear that foundation repairs should be undertaken by a specialist who has the tools and training to do the work effectively and, most importantly, safely. Of course, there are other benefits to professional work as well. First and foremost, it is far more convenient to have an expert undertake this difficult and intensive work for you.
More than this, professional services come with a guarantee that you will get a certain standard of work and that your property will be finished to a certain level. If something does go wrong, or if excavation uncovers more issues, you can also rest easy knowing that your foundation repair specialists will be able to think on their feet and adapt with ease. This is, after all, what you are paying for!
Push piers are foundation repair underpinnings that restabilize your home by transferring the weight from unstable soil to competent strata below the frost line. They can be required in a home for a number of reasons, but the most common is settlement.
- Foundation Settlement
Settlement occurs most commonly when excessive soil saturation or dehydration causes the foundation to sink and crack. This sinking is usually uneven, which causes a host of other problems. This occurs because expansive soil, such as clay soil, reacts heavily to moisture (or a lack of moisture). Overly wet soil loses its ability to support the weight of a property, while dry soil shrinks and leaves a property with no support.
Push piers transfer the weight of the property onto competent soil while using the weight of the building to set them in place. This essentially rectifies the settlement process and prevents the house from sinking further into the ground by providing a solid support system to keep it in place. By addressing the underlying cause of the damage, push piers make cosmetic repairs more viable, too.
- Does My Home Need Push Piers?
Push piers are specifically designed to support sinking foundations, but they aren’t the only options you have. If you suspect your foundation is damaged, sinking, or leaking, you should contact a foundation repair professional. They will tell you what the best course of action is and even determine whether push piers are the correct kind of foundation pier for your home and situation.
There is more than one foundation repair solution, and each solution has a situation for which it is best suited. A professional assessment is all-important because it ensures that you are getting the right solution for you. If you try to fix the symptoms of foundation damage or implement a DIY fix, you could make matters worse very quickly.
When are Push Piers the Best Option?
Of course, push piers are not the only type of foundation underpinning, and they are not suitable for all situations. First and foremost, push piers should only be installed vertically or they will not work. If you have large cracks in your foundation or additional problems that require pressure to be applied at an angle, push piers will not be suitable for your home.
Likewise, your home could be too light to effectively secure push piers. In these cases, helical piers are far more suitable. Helical piers are screw-like foundation piers that are used to support structures with a cracked, damaged, or sinking foundation. Helical piers are slightly easier to install and cause very little disturbance to the soil, but they do come with their own issues and drawbacks.
Push piers are best for:
- Heavy properties
- Homes with intact footings
- Homes that are sinking or settling and require vertical support
- Lifting a foundation back to its initial level
Push piers are not suitable for:
- Homes with bowing walls
- Lighter properties that cannot provide the right level of compression
- Homes with a badly cracked foundation or broken footings
Of course, the main benefit of any foundation pier is that they are cheaper, quicker, and easier than full foundation replacements. They also provide a permanent solution, which a full replacement is unlikely to do.
Why Choose Foundation Recovery Systems for Your Foundation Repairs?
We are recognized as one of the best foundation and basement repair companies in Missouri. Foundation Recovery Systems has been in business since 1993, and we have extensive knowledge and experience in assessing and repairing foundation damage. Our inspectors are not only certified, but they are also passionate and personable. They will ascertain whether push piers are right for your home and identify any co-occurring problems that need attention. Contact us today for a free inspection and repair quote.