Foundation Repairs

What is my foundation?

This rule of thumb will typically work, the foundation of your home is the concrete portion. The house’s structure would then be the wooden portions that connect to the foundation.

Types of foundation repairs

Our foundation repairs break down into two categories, what is known as deep foundation solutions and adding additional reinforcement.

What are deep foundation solutions?

As their name implies, these foundation elements extend much deeper into the earth than a concrete footer. A concrete footer typically extends less than a few feet below your local frost level. This tends to be less than 3 feet in the Upstate of South Carolina and most of the South East.

Deep foundation products are mounted to existing concrete foundations. Or when conditions mandate it, they are the foundation on which the house is built. Unlike the concrete footer, they are typically 20-160 ft below the ground, depending on soil type and load conditions.

Two main types of deep foundation products are used in residential and light commercial repair; Helical Piles and Push Piers.

Helical Piles

Helical Piles are the more versatile solution of the two options. A helical consists of a lead section that has the helix sections on in, like threads on a screw. This is “drilled” into the ground and provides the bearing surface to support the weight that will be added to the pile. Subsequent sections are bolted to the lead section. Which, are driven into the ground until the needed capacity has been reached.

Piles are specified based on their needed bearing capacity. That is, how much weight they will need to be able to hold to support the structure that is there or being built. That bearing capacity is determined by the amount of force necessary to get the helical pile into the ground. Once the helical reaches its needed depth, a large steel bracket is attached to the pile and bolted to the existing foundation. The concrete or steel foundation would be poured over or welded/bolted to the helical pile for new construction.

            Advantages of Helical Piles

  • They can be specified to a bearing capacity verified in the installation.
  • They can be used as a foundation for new construction.
  • They are very versatile in their applications.

Disadvantages of Helical Piles

  • They require a larger piece of equipment to drive them into the ground. This makes them very challenging to install in limited-access locations or on the inside of existing structures.
A helical is being installed to support the foundation.

Push Piers

Push Piers are concentrically loaded sections of steel pipe that are driven into the ground. This is done using a hydraulic ram that mounts to the existing structure. A steel bracket is bolted to the original foundation to attach it to the foundation. This braket is also the mounting point for the hydraulic ram used for the installation. The piles are driven in 3’ sections until the foundation starts to raise and resist the piles going any deeper. At this point, it’s clear the pile is ready and able to bear the structure’s weight.

            Advantages of Push Piers

  • They do not require as large of equipment to install them. This means they can go in more places, such as the basement of an existing home.
  • They are still very versatile in their applications.
  • They can be more cost-effective than helical piles in many instances.

Disadvantages of Push Piers

  • Harder to use for new construction where there is nothing for the hydraulic ram to push off of.
  • They can stress the foundation as pressure is repeatedly applied to drive the piers into the ground.

Are there varying qualities of Helical Piles and Push Piers

Helical Piles and Push piers are only as good as the steel they are made with and the quality to which they are machined and welded.

We use only Magnum Piering Helical Piles and Push Piers because, frankly, we think they are the best.

They are made in America at their plant in Ohio, using only steel from American mines and mills. Their products meet or exceed the International Code Council ICC- ES AC358 standards. They meet the International Organization Standardization (ISO) manufacturing uniform quality standards. They also use the highest quality ASTM A513 steel tubing, which is both higher quality and stronger than lesser steel.

On top of that, their engineers literally wrote the codes when it came to using and installing helical piles.

All that to say, we wanted to make sure we were using the absolute best. After all were trusting it to hold your house up!

Foundation reinforcement

Sinking or settlement is not the only way a foundation fails or needs repair. While the house sitting on the foundation exerts a fair amount of force on your foundation, unfortunately, many foundations have to deal with additional stressors.

Underground foundation walls like those found in walkout basements must resist a lot of force from the dirt that presses against them, along with all the water pressure they have to handle when it rains. Walkout basements are especially prone to overloading the underground wall as they are usually built on a hill and have lots of uphill pressure on that wall. Concrete and block piers can also crack, typically from an impact but also from being undersized. Slabs on grade foundations can also settle and crack, requiring reinforcement and repair. So what are the concrete reinforcement options?

Rapidly Expanding High-Density Polyurethane Foam

That mouth full of a product is probably the most well-known reinforcement product available, known as poly foam, poly level, foam leveling, or before the foams came along mud jacking. For these repairs settling concrete is raised and supported by injecting the foam through the slab. The foam expands and compresses the soil and fills and voids. As the foam compresses, it follows the path of least resistance compressing in the direction that can least resist it. Once the soil will no longer compresses, it starts to raise the slab in its effort to expand. This impressive material is used in all sorts of support applications and can effectively support entire homes.

Carbon-fiber reinforcement

This miracle material is changing how concrete is repaired worldwide, extending the life of structures and often preventing far more invasive and expensive repairs. A thin fabric of carbon fiber and be adhered to concrete using epoxy to create a reinforcement stronger than steel or the original concrete.

Carbon-fiber can be used to wrap or in the case of a cracked column that cannot easily be removed and replaced, like a large load-bearing column or a support under a pool. It can be applied to a bowing basement wall to strengthen it against the force of the backfill. It can re-anchor two sides of a corner together that have separated. Small rods of carbon fiber and glass can be used to stitch a piece of concrete back together that has cracked, like sewing up a wound.

This versatile solution to concrete repair can even be painted or easily covered up once done, making it great for finished spaces.

Beyond just repairing cracks in concrete, it can also be used to add strength to a concrete deck or lentil if the desired load changes, to make a header allowing openings to be made in poured and block walls, and even to repair a cracked concrete swimming pool.

Given all this product is asked to do and the importance of using a high-quality epoxy and carbon fiber weave, we’ve made sure to find the best on the market.

We use Structural Reinforcement Solutions and Fortress Stabilization products because they are made in the USA, and third-party ASTM tested to ensure they meet the highest standards.

Carbon Fiber Stitching
Carbon fiber saves a damaged column.
A damaged column under a pool deck.
Carbon Fiber straps to reinforce a block wall bowing under the soil pressure.

Steel Reinforcement

Steel I-beams can also be used to support a failing or bowing foundation wall. While more limited in their applications than carbon fiber, steel can still be a cost-effective solution. The steel I-beams can be anchored to a slab foundation and the structure of the house to apply pressure to a bowing foundation wall. For this reinforcement, a large spring is mounted to the top of the assembly, applying some active force to the wall. In some instances, the wall will also straighten out over time due to the pressure applied by the beams. This repair is a little hard to “paint” over in an area like a finished basement, but it can be great for a garage to a general storage area. The installation is typically quicker than the carbon fiber repairs, which can lead to some cost savings by taking this approach.

Steel I-beams used to reinforce a bowing block wall.

Your foundation is one of the most important elements of your home, and when repairs are needed, it’s important to ensure that you get the right repairs and the right products for those repairs.

Our free inspection with free estimate will help determine what your foundation is doing and the right steps to take to make repairs or add reinforcement.

As always, if, upon evaluation, it is determined that repairs are not needed or advised, then that’s the good news we will deliver.