Foundation Repair and Installation FAQ

Q. What does “settled foundations” mean?
A. This term refers to when a foundation or footing sinks into the soil or drops because of erosion of the soils under it.

Q. How do I know if my foundation is settling?
A. You will notice cracks in the basement wall or drywall. Doors will not work right or windows will bind or become misaligned in the frame. Floors may slope. Sometimes a chimney will tip away from the house.

Q. Can foundation settlement be stopped?
A. Yes. Steel piers are one of the easiest and sometimes the only way to stop settling.

Q. How much can a foundation be lifted?
A. The answer depends on the integrity of the structure, the amount of drop, complications of relift, and potential reverse damage in the lift

Q. Do I have to move out while lifting the house?
A. Typically not, but this depends on where the work is being done. If all the work is done in the basement and/or outside, no one has to move out. In a slab house, for instance, residents may have to move some items out, depending on the magnitude of the problem.

Q. Will it be level when work is done?
A. It’s not likely to become perfectly level. It’s very difficult to recreate a level structure because of differential settlement, past repairs, etc. However, the purpose is to stabilize the portion of the home experiencing settlement–cosmetic repairs can follow.

Q. How long will it take?
A. It depends on the size of the work. Most work is completed in 2-5 days. In extreme cases, it can take up to two weeks, but this is rare.

Q. How do you lift my house?
A. Install a series of piers, designed for the needs of your house. Piers are driven into the soils until they are capable of supporting your house, including a factor of safety. Then we put a hydraulic jack on each pier and push the footing bracket up. We lock it in place, remove the jack, and backfill the holes that were dug to expose and underpin your foundation.

Q. What if the foundation is cracked?
A. The repair design has to take wall cracks into account. Our primary objective is stabilization, but we carefully underpin and lift the foundation for maximum recovery and the best chance at closing cracks.

Q. What if the basement wall is tipping inward?
A. Holes can be drilled through the moving wall and an appropriate device is inserted in the soil outside. A threaded bar connects the inside of the wall to the unit outside and is tightened. This gives resistance to the wall continuing to move.

Q. Can a basement wall be pushed back out?
A. Generally yes. After the rods are in place, we excavate the soil outside the wall and tighten the threaded rods. This will typically pull the wall out. Then we back fill carefully and compact properly.

Q. Can tree roots push a wall in?
A. Yes. If repairs are attempted, the root structure will have to be cut and removed. For long term protection from re-occurrence, the tree should be removed.

Q. How deep will the piers go?
A. It depends on the load to be lifted and the type of soils; 15-25 feet is most common. Poor soils can range much deeper, but not commonly.

Q. How do you know when to stop?
A. When adequate capacity is reached as determined by hydraulic resistance of the pump, we stop.

Q. Do you install inside or outside?
A. That depends on where the footing is that needs the piers. We prefer to access the footing where it requires the least excavation and disruption. Sometimes, conditions require other options.

Q. How long will steel foundation repair piers last?
A. While it is true, steel rusts, a number of factors influence it. Installations under water and in tightly-compacted soils won’t rust. Corrosion is retarded by galvanizing the steel. Sieving piers or over-specifying pier size will add life. Reports of pier failure due to rust are virtually non-existent. Thus we can say they will last a very long time. Also, engineering can do resistivity test to help in the prediction of pier life if necessary.

Q. Do insurance companies pay for these repairs?
A. Unfortunately this is extremely rare. If settlement is caused by other factors such as ruptured plumbing lines, they may consider covering repairs. But each insurance company is different and you should read your policy and check with your insurance provider.

Q. Do I have to tell potential buyers that piers exist?
A. Yes. You should check with your legal counsel, but ethically and based on most real estate regulatory conventions, you must notify potential buyers of this type of repair. Typically, this isn’t an obstruction to most sales. Steel foundation repair piers are highly recommended, designed, and used by engineers. Building inspectors typically do not consider it a negative in their evaluations. We install piers according to local building code specifications.