What Are Pier Systems for Foundation Repair?
One of many foundation repair methods, pier systems are specifically used to help stabilize foundations that are failing due to unstable soil. Foundation piers prevent further movement by transferring the weight of your home to stronger, more stable soils. There are several different types of pier systems, including helical piers, slab piers, and push piers. Each kind of pier system has its own advantages—the one chosen for your foundation repair will depend on the kind of damage your foundation incurred and what caused it. For example, the piering system used to stabilize a foundation with collapsing walls due to soil pressure will be different than the one used to lift a foundation that has settled due to loose backfill soil.
Pier Systems for Foundation Repair v.s. Pier Foundations
Unlike the pier systems used for foundation repair, a pier and beam foundation is a type of foundation in and of itself. Pier and beam foundations are typically found in older homes and are made of footings with concrete bases. This creates the opportunity for a crawl space, whereas a slab foundation would not. When compared to slab foundations, pier and beam foundations typically cost more to build, but may make foundation repair easier in the long run.
Pier systems, whether they be helical, slab, or push piers, are used to repair both concrete slab and pier and beam foundations.
Why Do Foundations Crack and Settle?
Before we get into how foundation piers work, we’ll first need to address the causes of foundation settlement. Most foundation damage can be traced back to unstable soil, which refers to soil that quickly changes and subjects your foundation to movement.
The Top Three Causes of Foundation Damage:
The first step in building a home is digging a hole where the foundation will be poured. After the foundation is poured, the remaining voids are filled with something referred to as backfill soil. If backfill is not compacted properly, your home will sink and settle as its weight causes the soil to compress.
Inadequate drainage is the number one cause of foundation damage. Without proper water management, water can pool up and collect around your foundation walls. Like a towel gets heavier when it is wet, so does soil. As water continues to oversaturate the soil surrounding your foundation, the soil places more and more weight on your foundation walls. This can lead to the walls bowing inwards, cracking, and eventually collapsing under the pressure.
The type of soil your foundation is built on can compromise its stability. In Atlanta, our homes are built on an expansive soil referred to as Georgia red clay. When this soil gets wet, it expands, causing upheaval and placing added pressure on your foundation. When it dries out, it shrinks and pulls away from the foundation, leaving room for your foundation to settle. Upheaval, added pressure, and settlement can all cause foundation cracks and structural damage.
How Do Foundation Piers Work?
Foundation piers work by fighting against the causes of foundation damage. By transferring the weight of your home’s foundation to more stable soil, your home is no longer vulnerable the heaving and settlement caused by loose backfill, expansive, or oversaturated soils.
Types of Foundation Pier Systems
Depending on the type of movement or settlement your home has undergone, the type of pier system used to repair your foundation will be different. At AquaGuard Foundation Solutions, we offer three different types of foundation pier systems, including helical piers, slab piers, and push piers.