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Foundation Problems as Drought Continues

clock February 14, 2013 07:13 by author
The weather conditions in Kansas City can affect your home's foundation by causing settlement. Protect your home by hiring a professional to install ECP helical piers.

Foundation Settlement in Kansas City

 

 

 

Foundation repair, helical piers, steel push piers, ECP

The severe drought in the Midwest is effecting many homeowners that are forced to repair damage to their homes' foundations. Local foundation repair companies and structural engineers can't keep up with the torrent of phone calls and waiting list extend for several weeks just to get an inspection or quote. The culprit is the clay soils throughout Kansas and Missouri that becomes baked by months of dry weather. The soils act much like a sponge, as they dry out the shrink and pull away from the foundation and as they get wet they seem to grow and expand moving the homes' foundation.

When a home's foundation cracks and shifts, problems manifest themselves on the upper levels of the home with jammed doors and windows along with cracks in drywall. No style or design of a home can hide from these forces, nor are they spared from foundation repairs. "We're seeing a lot more settlement issues across the board, from stone foundations in Brookside to new foundations in the suburbs", says Joe LaGue of Olson Foundation Repair in Olathe, Ks. The phone calls are coming from all across the Midwest, calling about cracks and settlement in their foundations. Homes with larger trees that are close to the home are more vulnerable to soils drying out around the foundation. The trees are using every last bit of the moisture in the clay soil trying to stay alive. The trees are competing with the foundation for moisture and the trees are winning.

The drought started in September of 2011 int he Kansas City area and it continues in the first quarter of 2013 with not real relief in site. Earth Contact Products, a leading manufacturer and national distributor of foundation repair products based in the Kansas City area has seen dramatic growth during the severe drought. They have seen the drought expand from Texas up through Oklahoma and Kansas and then eastward through St. Louis, Chicago and Indianapolis. According to ECP, this drought has created over two years worth of work for foundation repair contractors throughout the Midwest.

Foundation Settlement Solutions

 

The dry conditions are even more damaging when they reach below the deep footings below basement or crawlspace walls. Once a foundation has significant settlement the only way to solve the problem is to push it back up. The product of choice in much of the Midwest and especially in the Kansas City area is with steel push piers. These steel piers are driven deeply, well beyond the soils that are affected by moisture fluctuations, providing a good base to lift basement or crawlspace walls. ECP, the leading steel push pier manufacturer, provides foundation repair contractors with several types of push piers. From concentric resistance piers, where the steel bracket and pile is placed directly below the foundation walls to eccentric push piers that are place on the side of the footing. Both styles are highly effective in pushing foundations upward, but must be designed by a foundation repair expert based on the needs of the individual structure.

During foundation repair, underpinning strengthens and stabilizes the foundation. Underpinning is accomplished by extending the foundation in depth so it rests on more stable soil stratum or distributes its load across a greater area. ECP has developed and patented several types of piling systems. With the professionals and the best products available, you will be assured that your foundation repair is done right and you will have peace of mind that it is stable. 



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.
 
 
 
 


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