Have you ever noticed how many foundation repair companies use pressed concrete piers? Pressed concrete piers are the most typically used piers for several reasons, the question is, are these reasons good ones? For the contractor they are the most cost effective pier to install. They are least expensive to purchase. For the contractor they are the easiest to install.
Concrete pressed piers require the least amount of material for him to purchase. For the contractor they require the least amount of equipment to install. While this is a real reflection of the low costs of concrete cylinders and the work to install these piers, it’s also a reflection of the quality, or lack thereof, of the contractors who install them. Many pressed pier contractors are using cheap hydraulic bottle jacks to press these cylinders. This low tech approach is one of the reasons that many foundation engineers will not recommend their use. These are the reasons that pressed concrete pier contractors advertise the lowest prices. If a low price is more important than a real repair then pressed concrete piles is your answer.
An ironic advertising gimmick that pressed pile contractors use against steel piers is that steel rusts. What they do not tell you is that they use thin steel shims between the concrete piles and the footing. They forget to tell you that they use steel cables inside the piles to keep things aligned or add to lateral strength. If you notice they do not use galvanized steel they use black, thin unprotected steel. There are even some contractors using steel piles below their concrete pier section to achieve a deep foundation pier. This is a clear admission that their pressed concrete cylinders do not drive deep enough to effectively support your foundation. So if they integrate steel in their piles, why do they not switch to a high quality galvanized steel piling system? Simply, the cost will increase and they cannot compete.
Another gimmick that pressed concrete pile contractors use is high pressure water jetting. This is when the contractor uses pressurized water to soften the soils below their pier as a means to drive the pile deeper. Sounds good, its reasonable, right? Well, lets think about what generally causes foundation failures; water. Yes water is the number one culprit of foundation failure. Now these contractors are injecting water under your foundation in an attempt to fix it? Ask any engineer if he recommends injecting water under your foundation as a good way to stabilize the home. It is pretty obvious that his answer will be “not under any circumstances”.
When you have foundation problems and you are looking for a solution, remember a few simple things before hiring a contractor. First, is the cheapest solution likely the best solution? Second, will the piers be driven deeply enough to provide support? Does the contractor use specialized equipment and products recommended by a professional engineer? Finally, will the techniques employed by the foundation repair contractor truly fix your problem or will it only mask the problems?