Although foundation pier systems are increasingly being used in new building foundations they are better known for the role they play in repairing, underpinning and tying back existing foundations.
Unless you are a builder or structural engineer, any work on a building’s foundations should be left to the experts. However, many competent DIY and home enthusiasts will want to know about the options available to them if they’re considering an extension to their property or if they have got a problem with their existing foundations.
Causes of Building Foundation Problems
Whilst the cause of problems in a building’s foundations can be quite varied they are usually ascribed to one of the three major factors; two of which can always be fixed. The two reasons that can always be fixed are if the problem is caused by poor soil or drainage beneath the property; or if it’s due to other work on the building being commissioned that really required foundation strengthening before it was commenced.
A typical example regarding building work being the problem would be the addition of a bedroom above a garage or other ‘outer’ building. If the foundation problem is due to a geological cause then it could be quite serious. However, with the one exception of coastal erosion, a reputable and professional foundation restoration company will undoubtedly have a solution for you.
Identifying Problems with a Foundation
A problem with the foundations of a building can first manifest itself as pictures not looking straight on a wall, seemingly innocent cracks in ceilings or plaster walls, and doors & windows not fitting properly or their frames looking out of line.
If you then also get cracked mortar, masonry or solid floors – let alone bulging walls – you could well be seeing some quite advanced signs of a failure in the integrity of a building’s foundations and it should be investigated without delay. Repairing a faulty foundation early on could save you thousands of dollars compared to if you chose to neglect and ignore it. The following discusses some of the foundation pier systems that can be used to repair a faulty foundation:
Helical Foundation Pier Systems
Using helical screws as foundation piers is a best suited to new buildings where the ground is not suitable for a conventional foundation ‘slab’ or footing. Relatively quick and quiet to install, they create little vibration or damage to a surrounding area and are therefore highly appropriate if you’re involved in a building project that is in a confined space ‘hemmed in’ by other buildings. However, the idea of using helical screw piers to help in installing the solution to a foundation problem is now quite common.
Bracket Foundation Pier Systems
Using brackets is probably the most common solution to the problem of foundations settling or sinking and slope stabilization. A bracket foundation pier repair system will involve sinking a helical screw pier then adding a bracket lifting system to the top of the pier. The bracket in effect clamps the foundation which is then lifted back to its original level/position; leaving the helical pier and bracket in place to maintain the new foundation height.
Using Pier Systems to Tie-back Foundations
More widely associated with repairing bulging walls the technique of using a tie-rod can be applied to problems with a building’s foundations. Helical screw piers will first be sunk either side of the foundation, which will then be drilled and have a rod inserted between the piers. Tightening the rod can have the effect of either pulling a foundation that has ‘spread’ over time back into shape or it could be used to pull the foundation back to its original position.