Your home’s foundation is probably its most important component. After all, your home — and everything in it — rests upon its foundation. So, when a foundation fails, it can cause issues throughout the house, including:
- Bowing Walls
- Sticking Windows & Doors
- Wall Cracks
- Sagging Crawl Spaces
- Uneven Floors
- Foundation Heave
- Collapsing Retaining Walls
- Floor Cracks
- Chimney Cracks
- Chimney Tilt
- Brick Cracks
- Floor and Wall Gaps
- Nail Pops
This is why it is so important to repair foundation issues as soon as they become evident. Not only do they affect other parts of the structure, but they often get worse and more expensive to fix over time. In other words, your foundation issues will never be cheaper to fix than they are today — and a push-pier solution can permanently stabilize your sinking foundation, and, in many cases, lift it back to or near its original position.
Push Piers Versus Helical Piers
Push piers and helical piers are similar in many ways. Both systems connect a structure to load-bearing bedrock or competent soils. Helical piers have plates welded to them in a helical pattern, giving them the appearance of a giant screw. These plates allow the piers to be mechanically advanced (literally “screwed”) into the soil. They are ideal for lighter structures or new construction situations where the building isn’t heavy enough to “push” the piers to their desired depth. They may also be used in cases where bedrock or load-bearing strata is simply too deep to reach via push piers.
Push piers are hydraulically driven (“pushed”) through the soil until they reach bedrock or load-bearing strata. Unlike helical piers, which require the power of a mini-excavator to advance them through the soil, push piers only require small hand-held hydraulic devices to push them into the soil. This means they can be used in tighter spaces (including indoors) and won’t tear up landscaping. Push piers are also typically less expensive per section than helical piers. In most cases, push piers are NSquare’s first choice for residential and commercial piering solutions.
Why Foundations Settle
Foundations settle for one or more reasons, virtually all of which have something to do with the soil beneath them. Therefore, it is vitally important for the long-term stability of a structure that its foundation be physically connected to competent, load-bearing soils.
- A foundation fails when the soil it rests upon is no longer able to bear its weight. This can happen when the soil compresses under load. Compression may be caused by the soil softening in the presence of excess moisture. It can also happen if the fill soil that was placed there when the land was developed was not properly compacted to begin with.
- Another reason for foundation failure is soil wash-out. This happens when the dirt beneath a foundation is washed away by excessive water — usually due to a weather event, such as a heavy rain, or a broken water pipe beneath the structure. When the soil is washed away, voids remain where there was once solid ground. This leaves the heavy structure above with nothing to support its considerable weight, so it sinks and settles.
The Solution to Soil Settlement
The key, then, is to connect the structure to competent, load-bearing soils. This requires advancing heavy-duty steel tubes, or piers, through the earth so that they can reach these sturdy soils. Once in place, they’re connected to the structure via heavy steel brackets.
Once in place, the piers effectively stabilize the structure permanently. In fact, in many cases, the structure can then be lifted back to its original position.
What Are Push Piers?
Push piers are steel tubes engineered to stabilize settling foundations by connecting a structure’s footings and walls to competent, load-bearing soils. Unlike helical piers, which are mechanically advanced or “screwed” into the soil, push piers are literally “pushed” deep into the soil using hydraulic power. Once they find load-bearing soil or bedrock, they are locked into place and connected to the structure via heavy-duty steel brackets. The weight of the structure is then transferred through the piers to this stable layer. Multiple sections of piering can be connected to reach great soil depths.
Advantages of the Supportworks Push Pier System:
- Year-Round Installation
- Can Reach Great Depths
- Does not Require Heavy Equipment, Such as a Mini-Excavator
- Can Lift Foundation Back to Original Position
- Below-Grade Solution Not Visible After Installation Is Complete
- Life-of-Structure Warranty
Stronger Push Piers With Supportworks
The Supportworks Push Pier System that we use here at NSquare, Inc., features a patent-pending external sleeve that strengthens the pier system directly below the bracket — the most critical location. The external sleeve strengthens piers during installation as well, which prevents the kinking, buckling and rotating commonly seen during the installation of inferior push pier systems.
Installing the Supportworks Push Pier System
Our warrantied solution can be installed on your foundation in three simple steps:
1. Preparing The Foundation Footing
For an exterior installation, the soil around the structure’s foundation is excavated to expose the footing at each pier location. For an interior installation, a section of the slab floor will be removed to expose the footing. The slab is restored after the installation and the entire work area cleaned up.
A section of the footing is cut away so that the steel bracket connected to the pier will directly support the wall. This approach provides more effective support than lifting the section of the footing that extends beyond the walls.
2. Installing the Shafts
Next, steel push piers are hydraulically driven into the soil until bedrock or load-bearing strata is reached. Additional piering sections are added as necessary to reach greater depths. These steel foundation piers are the strongest components in our foundation repair arsenal and are responsible for transferring the weight of the entire structure to solid, load-bearing soil.
3. Lifting The Foundation
Once all piers and brackets have been installed, foundation settlement is halted and the structure permanently stabilized. At this time, one of our team of in-house foundation contractors will determine whether it makes sense to lift the foundation back to its original position. This operation has the potential to close cracks in foundation walls and return doors and windows to their original functionality.
Foundation Repair vs. Replacement
If you have experienced a foundation issue, you may be tempted to consider replacing your entire foundation. But, you should know that we advise against this approach in almost all cases.
Total Foundation Replacement
First, total foundation replacement is extremely disruptive and can be very costly. The soil around your entire home is excavated. Then the entire structure is jacked up and the foundation and slab floor are demolished and removed. Finally, the foundation is rebuilt, the home is lowered and the soil is replaced.
As you might imagine, this process can take many weeks or more to complete and can be extremely expensive. In some cases, it can even result in damage to your home’s interior walls and other features as the house, no longer stabilized by its foundation, flexes as it’s jacked up to allow for the replacement of its foundation.
Second, and perhaps more important, replacing your home’s foundation doesn’t address the reason it failed in the first place: poor soil. You will be spending time and money replacing something that could very well fail again in the future.
In virtually all cases, this is the option we recommend. Not only is it typically less costly than total foundation replacement, most solutions can be installed and completed in a matter of days, rather than weeks. Some can even be completed the same day.
But the main advantage of foundation repair is that the solutions that NSquare, Inc. uses address the fundamental reason your home’s foundation failed. That’s because we use highly engineered steel push piering systems to reach load-bearing soils or bedrock, so your home is permanently stabilized.
The Cost of Doing Nothing
There is a third option when it comes to foundation issues: not repairing them. This can be tempting too. After all, many foundation problems take months or even decades to develop. An exterior wall crack may seem small and only grow a fraction of an inch each year. So, it can be easy to put it to the back of your mind and forget about it as you concentrate on what seem like more pressing issues.
Consider this, however: foundation problems don’t get better with time. And they will never be less expensive to repair than they are today. Foundation problems can also cause other issues elsewhere in the house.
Finally, there’s your home’s value. The Real Estate Seller Disclosure Act requires foundation repair needs to be disclosed to potential home buyers. Many realtors say that they are forced to discount homes with foundation structural defects 10-20 percent to make a sale. What is your home worth in today's market? Now, imagine losing that much money from your home's value by not permanently fixing your foundation. In virtually every case, the cost of repairing your foundation will be a lot less than the amount you’ll be forced to discount your home to sell it.
Free, No-Obligation Inspection
NSquare, Inc. wants to help you restore the value of your home through improved structural stability. We offer a wide variety of piering solutions that can address virtually any foundation problem.
The first step is to assess the problem. We offer free, no-obligation inspections by foundation experts who will take the time to explain the situation and the solution. By the time the inspection is complete, you’ll know exactly what is causing the problem, exactly what it will take to fix the problem and exactly what it will cost.
Our service area includes South Florida, including Sarasota, Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades, Hendry, Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.