Posted by Jonathan Maguire, Atlas Piers of Atlanta
Garage Column failure is a very common issue around the Atlanta metro area. In fact, Garage Column settlement is one of the top 3 issues we see in foundation failures. So what is it and how do you fix it?
Garage Columns are the center columns between two or more garage doors into a garage. The column is generally a structural element that carries either a brick load, beam load or header load. What this means is that the column generally carries a concentrated load where other parts of the home carry a line load across a continuous footing (think of the house over the garage door openings, instead of sitting on the ground they area passed to either side of the opening).
When many houses were built, the soils for the garage were moved into the area (especially when there is a basement) and then compacted. In many cases, the builder or grader failed to compact the soils enough to carry a concentrated load. These poorly compacted soils can cause the garage column to settle over time – if you have a brick house then you will have a crack above the garage column as this happens. As a result of the failure, you may also notice sheet rock cracks in any rooms above the garage. You may see a crack on either side of the garage floor where the floor slopes towards the middle.
The fix for this failure is typically to install 1-2 helical piers. In years past, when helical piers were not used as much, we would install resistance or push piers. It was a dangerous process, that put unnecessary stress on the column and resulted in many companies having warranty issues. Overall, it’s not a good idea to install a push pier under a garage column.
The typical installation for garage columns is to remove the driveway slab around the column, install 1 helical pier on either side of the column and then lift the column back in to place. Many of the cracks in the brick veneer will close, but you may still need to repoint (fill in) the mortar for a better look.
Some of the unknowns in repairing garage columns are 1) footing or grade beam under the garage slab, 2) depth of the helical piers, 3) lift results. Give Atlas Piers of Atlanta a call to determine what solution is best for you.