Don't Settle for Foundation Settlement: Piers Can Stabilize and Lift Settling Homes

Thursday, May 12th, 2016 by Holly Richards-Purpura


The next time you’re in your garden planting flowers or vegetables, or delightfully watching children dig up the earth to make mud pies, take a look at the soil. Ohio’s soil is rich in clay, making it ideal for planting. This is good news for gardeners and farmers, but not necessarily for homeowners.

When clay soil is saturated with rain, it holds onto the water and expands. When the ground dries out because of high temperatures or drought, the soils also dry up and can shrink. These natural processes can result in significant problems for heavy structures such as your home.

This diagram depicts how foundation settlement can affect homes.

Foundation settlement can result from a number of causes, but the most common reason is due to changes in the soils after construction of the home has occurred. Dry, shrinking soil can cause the structure to settle, and soft, wet, soil can result in a home “sinking” in the ground. A home built on poorly compacted fill soils also may settle due to the gradual compression of the fill.

How can you determine if your home is settling? Here are some telltale signs you’ll notice:

  • Stair-step cracks in brick or concrete block foundation walls
  • Leaning, tilting chimneys
  • Cracks around doors and windows
  • Jamming, sticking doors and windows
  • Cracks in concrete slab floor
  • Cracks in drywall

Any of these signs can be alarming to homeowners. Neglecting the problem and settling for a quick fix are the worst ways to handle these issues. So is relying on invasive and unreliable solutions. Alternative repair methods that have proven to fail include:

  • Foundation Replacement – It is very expensive and disruptive, and it does not address the problem; the foundation is likely to settle again.
  • Concrete Underpinning – The added weight of concrete can make the problem worse, it requires a significant amount of time to complete this project, and it will not lift the structure.
  • Concrete Piers – The concrete can crack when pressure is applied, it is unable to achieve depths needed due to friction of the soil on the pier, and re-excavation and shimming may be necessary.

The best decision you can make is contact Ohio Basement Authority so one of our highly trained, certified inspectors can examine the problem. Our team can then tailor a permanent solution to meet your goals and foundation repair needs.

The two reliable repair solutions we commonly recommend in addressing foundation settlement are Helical Piers and Push Piers. Both permanently stabilize the foundation, prevent further settlement, and offer the best opportunity to lift your home back to level. They also can be installed year-round, their galvanized steel components resist corrosion, they are below-grade solutions that will not be visible after installation, and they restore property value.

Steel tubes for the Push Piers are being driven into the soil.

The steps to each type of piering system are similar. Each process starts by the excavation of the soil outside the problematic foundation wall area to expose the footing and prepare it for a foundation bracket.

For the Helical Pier installation, the round-shaft piers – which are highly resistant to bending – are mechanically advanced into the soil. This is similar to using a screwdriver to tighten a screw into a wall. The piers are installed to appropriate depths and capacities to prevent future settlement. Heavy-duty foundation brackets are then connected to the Helical Piers and attached to the foundation’s footing. The weight of your home is then carefully transferred from the original unstable soils, through the piers, to competent soils or bedrock.

During the Push Pier installation, the second step is to secure the foundation bracket to the footing. Rugged steel tube sections are than hydraulically driven through the bracket to competent soils or bedrock. The weight of the home is then transferred to these load-bearing strata.

This diagram depicts how Push Piers stabilize the home from underneath, as well as lift it back to level.

If you are concerned with your home’s stability and want to protect the foundation from settling, contact Ohio Basement Authority to schedule your free, no obligation inspection. Our expert team can help you create a safer and structurally sound home.

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911 Stelzer Road
Columbus, OH 43219
1-614-254-6006
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