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Concrete Press Piles for Foundation Repair

clock October 3, 2012 00:11 by author
Concrete press piles do not meet local building codes. If you need foundation repairs, demand the use of helical and steel piers to repair your foundation.

Foundation Repair Products

foundation repair, concrete press pilesIf your home is experiencing foundation failure, such as cracks in the foundation or soil separation, then you may need foundation repairs. Finding the right foundation repair specialist can be a difficult proecess because each company offers different repair methods for fixing your home's foundation. That is why it is important to know important details of every foundation repair method, so you know if you are getting quality products.

There are many different types of foundation repair products available to repair your home. These include steel resistance piers, helical piers and concrete pressed piles. Unfortunately they all do not perform well or even meet the building code.

Concrete Press Piles vs. Other Piers

Concrete pressed piles or concrete cylinders do not meet local building codes for several reasons. First of all, they do not meet depth requirements. The depth of the pile or pier or any type of deep foundation system is probably the most important factor for an effective foundation repair system. No matter what foundation repair system is being installed, if this pier is not deep enough, it becomes a useless pier. Unless the pier system is installed below the active zone or zone of influence (as many engineers refer to it) it will not be able to support your home.

Concrete pressed piles are considered a friction pile – one that relies on skin friction with the soil to produce load holding characteristics. When these piers are installed in the active soil zones (typically 15’ or less), the addition or subtraction of soil moisture causes concrete pressed piles to move with the soil. Due to their diameter and blunt surface they are very difficult to drive past this active soil zone without doing damage to the home.

Steel piers and helical anchors not only do not rely on skin friction for support but also are designed to penetrate beyond the zone of influence which provides a stable pier to support your home. These piers are designed with the ability to go very deep if necessary, well beyond any moisture fluctuations in the soil. Steel piers have a much more slender nature which greatly helps their ability to penetrate dense soils, which are present during droughts or extended heat spells. Helical piers are screwed through the soil and use helix shaped flights or mini-footing to support your homes load. When installed beyond the active soil layers helical pier provide a very solid support for your foundation.

Next, concrete pressed piers do not provide a true connection between cylinders. This not only poses a problem with meeting building code minimum requirements but also creates a major problem for homeowners. As the concrete cylinders (12 inches each) are pressed into the soil they often times become misaligned. Picture a stack of blocks sitting on the floor. Now apply a force to the top block. You will notice that the blocks start to move side to side as more pressure is added. This exercise is consistent with how concrete pressed piers act when a bottle jack is used to force them into a hard soil.

Steel pier and helical anchors use a mechanical connection between the pier sections to maintain alignment and provide consistent support for your foundation. Helical anchors, due to their design, provide an additional benefit in that they equally resist upward and downward movement upon proper installation.

Often, foundation repair contractors that use pressed piles, will place a cable or reinforcing bar down the center of the pile to help compensate for their alignment downfall. This attempt in maintaining alignment is admirable but not effective. As the concrete cylinders move through the soil they will encounter varying soils which cause them to turn or curve. Once this takes place, any large force that is not exactly centered on a concrete cylinder can cause it to crack or break. Once the concrete cylinder has cracked you can expect your foundation to settle at this point.

While all foundation repair methods require proper training and education to provide any long term solution to your foundation problem, concrete pressed piles, due to their very nature, are prone to the unique issues covered above. Their design causes them to be driven shallow and often times at angles that do not provide long term support. Even if your city does not require foundation repair methods to meet building codes, as your home is your most valuable asset, you should demand the use of steel piers and helical piers by your foundation repair contractor. Manufacturers like Earth Contact Products design and engineer their systems to provide long term support as well as educate their network of foundation repair experts in the science of foundation repair.



Kansas City Drought

clock August 24, 2012 05:07 by author
Foundation repairs and droughts go hand in hand due to settlement. Foundation repair contractors report record numbers of drought related work in Kansas City.

Foundation Settlement During Drought

Foundation repair, Foundation settlement
In a recent article in the Kansas City Star, Drought takes a toll on home foundations , Kevin Collins described the home settlement issues that many homeowners are experiencing. These drought related settlement issues have forced many homeowners to hire a foundation repair contractor to install steel push piers or helical piers to support their homes. This record breaking drought has had a yearlong hold on the Midwest for over a year, which will cause millions of dollars of damage to foundations of residential and commercial properties.
 
“Local repair companies and structural engineers can’t keep up with the torrent of phone calls, and waiting lists extend for several weeks just to get an inspection”, reported Collins. With no end in sight homeowners are faced with the reality of repairing their homes. They also face many questions such as, do I hire a foundation engineer? Do I use steel push piers or helical piers? What local foundation repair contractor do I use? How bad are my foundation problems?
 A national website www.MyFoundationRepairs.com was designed to answer these questions and more for homeowners in Kansas City and all around the United States. From basement wall cracking, foundation settlement and expansive soil problems My Foundation Repairs describes the issues and solutions related to the foundation repair industry.

 

Foundation Repair Solutions

Earth Contact Products, the largest national supplier of steel push piers in the country, is based in the heart of the drought plagued area. The Kansas City Star also reported that “nearly all of Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois are in extreme or exceptional drought”. According to Jeff Tully, GM of Earth Contact Products, this has caused increased business for foundation repair contractors in this area along with numerous companies attempting to enter this market. “These opportunistic companies do not have the experience or knowledge to properly and permanently repair foundation”, Tully went on to say. Properly trained contractors and foundation engineers are a homeowners best friend when it comes to repairing foundations.
Steel push piers are the most common foundation repair product used today. These steel push piers are an end-bearing pier that does not rely on nor requires skin frictio to produce support. Each pier is load tested after installaton. They are able to develop a factor of safety because the piers are load tested individually using the maximum weight of the structure as the reaction force. 
Helical piers are ideal for applications where there is a need to resist a tension or compressive force or both. These helical piers consist of a shaft made from either solid square steel bar or tubular steel. On the piers is welded either one or more helical plates. Extensions of various lengths are available and supplied with couplings and hardware for attachment to the lead allowing the ECP helical piers assembly to reach the desired depth.
 
 
 
 


Concrete Foundation Cracks

clock February 13, 2012 05:01 by author
Foundation cracks don't just magically disappear. Hire a foundation contractor to find out the severity and cause of your foundation cracks.

Is That Foundation Crack Serious?

Concrete Foundation Cracks, Foundation Repair, ECP

In a recent article by Christopher Solomon, Is that crack serious? Foundation problems 101, the seriousness of foundation cracks was addressed. This article spoke to the severe drought that began in Southwest Texas and slowly expanded to cover, Oklahoma City, Wichita and Kansas City. In its wake homes have settled, cracked and crumbled due to the soil drying out. The article went on to report - "The drought that some are comparing to the Dust Bowl has homes rockin' and rollin' as the parched ground beneath them cracks and settles. Homeowners are watering foundations - to keep their abode in place - and forgetting about their grass"

Being in the industry of foundation repair I have noticed the effects from this most recent drought. As the drought has grown the demand for foundation repair products has grown with it. Calls from foundation repair contractors have expanded in volume, frequency and territory. By watching the phone calls you could see how the drought slowly moved from San Antonio, San Angelo and Lubbock to Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton then slowly towards Oklahoma City and Muskogee followed by Wichita, Emporia and Kansas City. More and more homes have been affected by the drought causing them to settle and crack. The soil has been so devoid of moisture that it and anything set upon it has settled downward at an alarming rate. It has affected slab on grade homes, pier and beam homes and full basement homes with equal abandon.

Solomon goes on to explain "The reason: a black gunbo clay that was brought down during the last Ice Age". It also exists in the Atlanta area and in pockets elsewhere, including St. Louis and Denver. But even bedrock can move. The American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that one-quarter of the nation's homes have suffered damage caused by expanding soil". With numbers like this it is easy to see what a serious problem we have throughout the Midwest and beyond. As with any major weather event homeowners are subjected to unscrouplous contractors and bad advice. Be very careful of contractors that are very aggressive or new to he industry. They do not care about your home like you do and will be off to swindle the next homeowner after they have collected your money. The best way to protect yourself and your home is to hire a professional foundation engineer to oversee any and all foundation repairs. Often this expense is not only something that gives you peace of mind but also can save you money by preventing bad contractors from doing more damage.

Foundation cracks are not something that goes away or fixes itself. The severity and cause of the cracks needs to be addressed by a professional foundation repair contractor or professional engineer. Then the right solution can be applied you your home to stabilize, lift or straighten your homes foundation. This is a highly specialized field to requires high quality products, professional training and a company that will stand behind what they do for years to come. This does not mean that the best solution is a written warranty that promises the moon in the large print and penalizes you in the fine print, but a written document provided by the foundation contractor that states he will stand behind his work and uphold his reputation. Dont fall prey to "lifetime warranties" that require arbitration and other tactics of poor contractors. If you have a future problem you need to know that the company will be around and willing to fix any unexpected problems willingly.

What to Look For

Later in the article Solomon goes on to say "Horizontal cracks across the foundation are often serious. Horizontal cracks are caused by hydrostatic pressure - basically, too much water behind the foundation. It pushes on the foundation". "Here's a tip: Look down the outside of your house. Does the home appear to be hanging over the foundation, especially in the middle, as if the home is too big for it's foundation? That's a tell-tale sign." On the other hand, a vertical crack often indicates a more serious problem. Vertical cracks often are indicators of settlement, like what comes during extreme droughts. Is the crack wider at the top than the bottom? If so this is a classic sign of settlement. As the foundation tries to settle the concrete foundation starts cracking and starts "tearing" the wall from the top down. First and second floor windows and doors will start sticking, windows will become harder to open and close and drywall cracks will start popping up. These classic signs are indicators that you need to find professional help immediately. 

 



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