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Foundation Repair - Your Underpinning Options

clock July 17, 2009 07:29 by author blogadmin


When it comes to foundation repair work on your home, there are several choices that need to be made. These choices range from using helical piers or steel push piers, waterproofing or underpinning, concrete segmented piles or steel push piers or even eccentric vs. concentric piers. You will hear proponents for each different type of foundation repair underpinning system, you will also hear many different reasons why some steel push piers are better than other steel push piers. Wading through all of this information is the key to finding the right method and means of repairing your home. Here we will focus on the differences in  piering systems, specifically eccentric piers verses concentric piers. First we must define the terms eccentric and concentric. An eccentric piering systems is one who’s pile axis is not in line with its applied load. A concentric pier is a pier bracket and pile who’s axis is in line with the applied load. Below is an example of both an eccentric and a concentric pier.


                                           Eccentric Push Pier                                           Concentric Push Pier  

Next, you must categorize these piering systems. 

                                               Eccentric Piers                                   Concentric Piers            

                                               Steel Push Piers                                    Steel Push Piers           

                                               Helical Piers                                         Segmented Concrete Piers           

                                               Micro Piers                                          Hybrid Piers 

For foundation repair applications, helical piers are always eccentric in nature. The helical sections are installed through the bracketing system from the side of the pier. Micropiers are also installed through the bracketing systems from the side of the pier. The major reason for this is the relatively large equipment used to install these types of systems cannot fit below the wall or footing.  

Segmented Concrete Piles are installed directly below the footing and then a bracket or platform is installed on top of the pile to transfer the applied load to the pier. Hybrid piers are the latest concept in underpinning products. These pier systems generally use concrete filled steel pier sections installed directly below the footing and then either a steel bracket or concrete block is placed on top to transfer the load to the pier. These hybrid piers are marketed as the best of both worlds, in reality they are compromise of both worlds. They do not provide the full benefits of steel piers and they have the same negatives as the segmented concrete piles. 

As noted above, steel push piers can be eccentric or concentric in nature. Each manufacturer generally determines which design best fits their manufacturing and design capabilities and sticks with that style. Only Earth Contact Products has successfully designed and engineered both types of systems for residential use. 

What is better, eccentric or concentric? Well that is the $64,000 question. There is no real answer, because both, if designed properly and applied properly, will work well. While an eccentric designed pier requires more engineering and tighter quality control, not only can they work well but some have worked well for over 30 years. This is not to say all eccentric piers have good engineering behind them. Many are manufactured around cost constraints opposed to good engineering. Concentric steel piers are a lower tech solution that has many application advantages over its rival, the eccentric pier. They can be installed with less footing modification, they can be installed in lower headroom areas and they require less installation equipment to use. 

Concentric piers are great for crawl spaces due to the fact that a tall drive stand is not needed to drive the pier sections. For eccentric piers to be used in a crawl space you will need either a fairly deep crawl space or you will have to cut through the flooring to make room for the drive stand. Concentric piers are also not affected by deep brick ledges or other obstacles like their competition.  

The down side to most concentric piers is in their lifting or stabilization of structures. Most concentric piers do not allow room for anything more than a bottle jack (car jack) for lifting. They are pressured up with the bottle jack and then simple shims are placed between the bracketing system and the footing,  the footing is then lowered onto the pier system. Bottle jacks are very undesirable for a couple of reasons. First, the structure is over lifted to allow for the steel shims (similar to segmented concrete piles). Next, with bottle jacks, the installer has no way to measure or control the hydraulic pressure applied to the structure. Most engineers frown on the use of bottle jacks for structural repairs. 

There is only one concentric pier available, that uses a hydraulic manifold lifting system and is continuously adjustable, on the market today. The Earth Contact Products Model 200 uses a hydraulic manifold system, the same system used on their eccentric push piers. This system was designed by engineers for engineers to allow for critical infinite adjustability and control in lifting structures. The Model 200 also uses a patented adjusting platform that does not require over lifting or shims. This unique combination has created large demand and acceptance of this particular concentric piering system. 

As you can see there are many variables and styles of underpinning pier systems available. So how do you choose the one that is right for your home? This is the easy part. First, hire an engineer and let him help determine your foundation repair needs. Then take your new found knowledge out into the market and wade through the variety of foundation repair contractors and find one that installs a quality piering system that has been designed and engineered to perform on your home. No bottle jacks, no shims, no shallow installation methods, just good engineering and manufacturing by a quality foundation repair company. Now, whether you are in Dallas, Texas, Kansas City, Kansas or Columbus, Ohio get out there and get your home fixed correctly and permanently.

Is your basement wet?

clock June 27, 2009 21:12 by author blogadmin
Identifying the source of water in your basement will make your home healthier and more structurally sound. Hire an expert to install a waterproofing system.


Having water in your basement is never a good thing. From structural deterioration to mold growth, wet basements create a number of hproblems for your home. When you have wet basement problems, it's critical to get your basement dry and keep it that way. In addition to standard basement waterproofing strategies, you may want to consider a whole house dehumidifier. Increasing ventilation and improving the overall air quality of your home, these systems can help ensure your basement stays dry!

Basement Waterproofing

Musty odors? Visible mold and mildew? Buckling or bowing walls? You likely have a basement moisture problem. Even when you don't see water, any of these problems is a sign of a leaky foundation. Damaging moisture is seeping into your home, so you need to attack it at its source! There are a variety of basement waterproofing methods and resources, so be sure that your contractor has tailored your water remediation to suit your home. The most important aspect of any basement drying solution is to identify the moisture's entry point and eliminate it. A number of options are available for sealing your basement and removing water, including:

  • Interior drain tiles
  • Sump pump installation
  • Battery or back up sump pumps
  • Vinyl wall sheeting
  • Crawl space encapsulation
  • Foundation crack repair
  • Steel Push Piers
  • Helical Tiebacks
  • Wall Plate Anchors

 Foundation Repair

Many times the water that is entering your home can also cause structural foundation problems. The moisture causes soils to consolidate under your foundation which in turn causes settlement. This settlement can be resolved with steel push piers or helical piers mounted under the footing transferring the weight of the structure from these consolidating soils to these newly installed piles.

So if you have signs of water in your basement contact a professional to help solve your homes problems. From waterproofing to foundation repairs solving water problems will make your home healthier and more structurally sound.'s your home!


Ignoring Foundation Repair

clock June 27, 2009 20:19 by author blogadmin
By ignoring foundation repairs, your home may start to settle or move laterally. Hire a foundation repair expert to stabilize your foundation before it is too late.


Foundation repair is not something most of us like to think about. We tend to ignore it and hope that fixes itself. Foundation problems can be a stressful, potentially costly endeavor, filled with uncertainty, particularly if not done under the direction of a professional contractor or foundation engineer. 

Foundation Repair is needed when your foundation begins to settle or move laterally. This can be caused by building on expansive clay, compressible or improperly compacted fill soils, or improper maintenance around foundations.  

Foundation repairs aren't easily performed, so you cannot sit back and hope for the best. You must do your homework to find the best foundation repair contractor for the job. As usual, the lowest price is not always the best way to go. If you choose to make your final decision based on price, be prepared to be disappointed. Quality repairs take specialized equipment and specially trained people to perform the work. 

Needed foundation repair work can not be ignored. The traditional answer to foundation repair has been to erect piers to jack up the foundation and raise it off the expansive clay soil. The piers must be installed through the expansive or weak soils to stabilize the structure. Foundation repair can be the most expensive repair that you will make to a property. There are four major categories for this type of piering – steel push piers, helical piers, micro piles and concrete piles. Each of these have their benefits and logical applications. 

Steel push piers are hydraulically driven piers that use the weight of the structure to drive steel pier material through the soil until they reach a load bearing stratum for support. Once the pier material is driven, individual hydraulic cylinders are attached to each pier and the structure is either stabilized or lifted using a hydraulic manifold system. Steel push piers are best suited for basements, crawl spaces or other heavy structures. 

Helical piers are similar to push piers except they are screwed through the soil and use a steel plate, flight, to support the pile within layers of good soil. These piles must be monitored very closely upon installation to achieve their intended depths. Once an adequate depth is achieved, once again, a hydraulic manifold lifting system is installed to lift or stabilize the structure. These helical piers are ideally suited to light weight structures that only need a small lift or stabilization. 

Micro piles are hydraulically driven hollow steel piers that are filled with grout during installation or immediately upon completion. The hollow bar serves not only as structural steel but also as a means inject the grout. These high capacity piers use the same type of manifold lifting system as steel push piers and helical piers. While these piles have very large capacities and can be installed in soils that other piles cannot be installed in, they also require much more equipment for installation which make them more expensive to install. They are best suited for very heavy structures sitting upon poor soils laden with cobbles, boulders and trash. 

Concrete piers are piers that use a drilled hole filled with concrete that rely on skin friction for support. They are drilled or dug into the soil, usually beyond the active soils, and then filled with concrete. Once the concrete has hardened, a shimming system is usually employed to support the structure. These piers are not only messy but take much longer to complete. 

Foundation repair is critical to address as soon as you suspect a problem. For starters, the sooner you fix a failing foundation, the less damage it will cause. Due to the complexity of foundation repairs the best advice is to hire an engineer followed by a trained foundation repair contractor. These professionals will make sure that your home is fixed correctly and permanently. Do not ignore your foundation problems have them fixed by the pros.




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