Using Helical Piers in Foundation Repair

Advantages of Helical Piers

Foundations are no doubt the most important part in a home. However, a time comes when one may be required to do repairs. In this regard, one of the most effective means of doing repairs is to use helical piers. Helical piers in foundation repair is a technology that has been in use for over a hundred years now. It has been proven to work very effectively, either on new construction or on repair work. This is especially so in cases where the soil conditions need deep piles to be installed.

Using helical piers is often recommended due to the fact that the equipment needed for installation is generally smaller and lighter. Furthermore, they are less specialized than the equipment known to be used in other forms of deep foundations. The fact that the cost of mobilization is much less compared to other systems ensures that the contractors access the tight or confined sections in order to install helical piers where other equipment could not fit.

The other benefit is that helical piles are installed free of vibration because they get turned in with a torque motor, just like a wood screw that gets turned into a piece of wood. In cases whereby one is working with an existing structure, it is advisable to prevent any opportunity for additional settlement.

During the installation of helical piers, the contractor should ensure that he continually monitors the torque it takes to install each pier. The torque rating is directly related to the capacity of each pier. In this regard, the contractor would be able to know what capacity each pier will support at the end of each installation.

The other advantage of using helical piers is that there is minimal excavation required since the helical piles are screwed in. This therefore means that there will be fewer spoils thus reducing the overall cleanup costs of the repair. Furthermore, it ensures that there is no noise pollution that is synonymous with violent banging or hammering.

It is important to note that there are two basic types of piers used in foundation repair. These are resistance and helical. However, resistance piers are much suited for buildings that have very heavy load requirements or typically need to be raised. However, the helical piers have been preferred by many due to the fact that they can be conveniently screwed down until they get to the sub-base that is strong enough to support the needed outcome. This twisting ensures that they cannot be pushed or pulled out. This makes this type of piers, the strongest to work with in regard to foundations repair. It’s appropriate for people who look at the long term results of the repair.

Helical piers therefore are no doubt the most appropriate choice for any homeowner who wished to improve the strength of their foundation. Nothing is more satisfying than a strong foundation in a home. In this regard, a prudent homeowner would see the sense in making the right choice for their foundation repair. With these in place you can rest assured that your foundation is well taken care of.


Pier and Beam Repair Is Cheaper

Among the common types of residential foundations, pier and beam are usually much less expensive to repair. This is primarily due to easier access with equipment and personnel. However, costs can increase in the event of severely damaged beams which need to be replaced and also the cost of repair of any water leaks.

Pier and beam foundations

Pier and beam foundations, as the name implies, are concrete footings and piers which support wood beams and floor joists. These foundations frequently have crawl spaces underneath the home.

Basements are usually constructed in northern climates where freeze/thaw environment occur and the footing depth must expand beneath the frost line—frequently four or more feet below the surface. In many of these situations, contractors will go ahead and dig for a basement and build basement walls that ensure the support for the home. The substructure of the basement is often below the depth over which the majority of the soil’s minimize or enlarge due to climate occurs. However, basements can suffer basement floor heave and lateral wall movement..

Deep foundations reach depths that are not normally deviant by seasonal environmental changes and are considered to be out of the zone of influence.

There are a many of other types of both shallow and deep foundations.

Quality foundation repair systems include pressed steel piers, helical piers, pressed concrete pilings, and drilled or poured concrete piers. The steel pier, also called a steel piling, is consistently the deepest driven pier providing the most foundation support. In addition to piers, drainage correction systems including surface drains, and French drains can also be provided to correct problem areas.

Quality foundation repair solutions are situation dependent, based upon the age and style of foundation and house as well as the soil conditions and goals of the property owner. Our opinion is that the steel pier is the best, as far as long lasting foundation support with minimal impact on vegetation. Our robust steel pier is driven to solid rock or a hard load bearing strata at pressures of up to 6,000 PSI, and depths of as much as 80 feet.

Time for foundation repair is typically 1 to 3 days. The amount of repair time is dependent upon the depth to which the pier system must be driven. The depth to which the pier system penetrates to rock or rock-like strata is not normally limited by soil moisture or soil density.

steel pierSteel piers are driven to bedrock or very hard load bearing strata.

 Bracket Material is steel, typically ASTM A-36
 No Shims, No Pins, and No Concrete
 Typical 60″ pier section lengths, fewest connectors
 Piershaft material is high carbon 2 7/8″ O.D., steel
 Shaft sections have a typical yield strength of 50 KSI
 All joints include a steel overlap of approximately 6″.
 Piersindividually driven to rock or hard, rock like load bearing strata.
 Friction reduction collar used to assure maximum depth.


Helical steel piers are another system used for home foundation leveling. Bracket material is the same as for steel piers. The first shaft section has one or more helical plates. Each section of steel is augured into the ground using a rotary hydraulic drive system. Extensions of steel pipe are typically 60″ long.

Helical piers are typically driven to a pre-set load level to provide adequate depth to get below the zone of seasonal moisture variation. The rotary helical pier system’s main advantage is that during installation no load is placed on the foundation, which makes it ideal for interior foundation repair. Helical piers will not normally achieve the depth of straight shaft pressed steel pilings.

Pressed Concrete Pilings provide a fast, relatively clean solution when compared with drilled piers. The system consists of pressed concrete pilings topped with a pier cap, concrete spacer, and steel shims.
The pressed concrete piling system requires a lot of lawn disruption when compared with steel piers. Typically, the hole required for this type of piling is twice that of a steel pier.

The pilings are hydraulically driven to refusal using an installation force of up to 5000 PSI. Studies have shown that due to the soil mechanics of friction and compression, this system will attain support strength of twice its installation force within one month after pier installation. The system consists of pressed concrete pilings topped with a pier cap, blocks and shims.

Other systems used in foundation repairs:

Drilled or Poured Concrete Piers: Holes are drilled to a depth of 9-12 feet below the surface, and then filled with reinforcing steel and concrete. The pier shown is commonly called a double 8, that is, twin 8 inch columns. Angular spacing of the two legs is typically 5-15 degrees. After allowing 4-7 days for the concrete to cure, thePoured concrete pier is topped with concrete spacers and shims as the house is leveled. This system may be used instead of steel piers when leveling the perimeter of pier and beam homes.

The pier system used under the interior of a pier and beam home may be as simple as re-shimming existing posts, or block and pad systems. Sometimes new poured concrete piers are installed on the surface of the ground. Steel shims are placed at the top of the pier to adjust the house level.

Mud Jacking is commonly used for driveways and sidewalks, and is less often used in concrete foundation repair. Mud jacking seldom provides satisfactory, long term correction to foundation problems, since the process doesn’t reach down to the zone of seasonal soil stability or bedrock. In Texas, the seasonal zone of soil stability is normally considered to be at a depth of 10-12 feet below the surface. At this depth, the soil moisture content remains relatively constant all year long.

Mud jacking doesn’t address the foundation problems that arise from inadequate soil compaction. Most foundation companies will not provide a long term warranty for a foundation repair using mud jacking.

Spread Footings were used in the past for slab foundation repairs, and have been proven to be less than satisfactory. The footing is typically installed directly under the beam as a poured concrete slab measuring 3′x3′x3′. Practice has shown that since the footing is in the highly expansive 3-5 foot soil depth, it may contribute to foundation upheaval and further foundation problems.


It’s interesting to note that in today’s world of residential construction, almost all homes are built on slab foundations. This is primarily because the builder finds them cheaper and faster to install. However, it is also important to note that many custom home builders are building on pier and beam foundations because of the flexibility in design. The finished product, with solid wood floors is another desirable feature many builders and homeowners appreciate.

Related:  Average Cost of Foundation Repair

What Is The Average Cost Of Foundation Repair?

average cost foundation repairThe cost of foundation repair can vary wildly from just a couple of hundred dollars to well over twenty-thousand dollars. It really all depends on the type of foundation you have and the extent of the damage. For this reason, getting an average is really sort of meaningless. Your damages could be at either end of this spectrum or somewhere in the middle. It just takes an expert evaluation to find out where you stand.

There are a number of ways you can tell you have foundation problems. If your floors are uneven and/or your walls and ceilings are cracking, that’s a good indication of trouble. Doors that stick or drag on the floor provide another clue.

In order to have the right work done to truly alleviate your foundation problems, you must engage the services of a structural engineer. This professional will inspect your foundation and give you a detailed diagnosis. The services of this sort of professional may cost you between $300 and $800; however, it is money well spent that will save you money in the long run.

If you do not have a professional inspection performed, you will not know what is really wrong with your foundation. You might end up throwing good money after bad having one thing and another fixed without ever getting to the root of the problem. While many professional foundation repair companies claim to be able to do this inspection and analysis, it is really best to have it done by an impartial third party who has no vested interest in the repair work you will have done.

Generally speaking, you can expect to spend between $3000 to $10,000 on foundation repair, but as stated, this is really just a guess. The exact amount is extremely dependent upon the type of foundation being repaired and the precise repairs necessary. Additionally, the size of your home and the materials being used for the repairs will play a role in determining your overall costs. If you have a big house with lots of foundation damage, naturally it will cost more to repair than a smaller house with minor damage.

The type of foundation you have makes a big difference, too. For example, if you have a pier and beam style foundation, the number of piers necessary to make the repair will greatly determine your costs. Each pier or piling may add as much as a thousand dollars to your estimate. A slab foundation repair project will typically be more expensive.

It’s easy to see that foundation repair is not a cheap undertaking. For this reason, you should carefully research foundation repair businesses and get estimates from several before settling on one. Be sure to give each company the same information so that you will get truly comparable quotes. You may be surprised by how much the estimates vary from one company to the next.

Question each company closely about the methods of repair used. This may also vary greatly from one company to the next and may account for the disparity in estimates. You want to be sure that the repair you are paying for is the right repair for your situation and that it will last. Otherwise, you might find yourself in exactly the same spot in a very short period of time.

Be sure to make the most of your foundation repair dollar by hiring a structural engineer to provide you with a professional, third party assessment of your damages. Then be certain to interview a number of professional foundation repair companies with good local reputations. Taking these extra steps may take some time and care, but it will be well worth it in the long run.

Related:  Foundation settling 

A House That Is Settling Is a Cause for Worry

house settlingWhen a house starts settling you will hear floorboards creak, as will joints in woodwork. Most homes will settle over time, but if the process is very gradual, it may not even be noticeable to its residents. The severity of any house settling is related to how it was constructed and the attention paid to the ground on which the foundations of the house rest.

Foundations are best laid over soil that has been compressed over the centuries, which gives it stability and strength. A very common reason for houses to settle is laying of foundations on soil that has not been properly backfilled. At times, during excavation of a foundation, certain areas may get over excavated and reach depth that have to be made up, so that foundations are at one level. Builders seek to achieve this by backfilling the soil. When this is done, it is very necessary to see that the soil is properly compacted, till it reaches at least 98 percent of its original density. It is possible for engineers to conduct tests to ensure this, but unfortunately, when it is not given the right compaction treatment, the soil will settle over time.

Settling can also take place, in places where soil is properly compacted. When the backfilling of over excavated soil is done with material that has a propensity to degrade, it will lose its structural stability. When these materials, like drywall pieces, disintegrate they create pockets in the soil, which will collapse over tine and cause settlement. If there are any tree stumps or toots in the soil, they can also decompose and make the soil lose its stability.

Houses build on clayey soil are very vulnerable to settling conditions. Clay absorbs water and does swell up. Similarly, when it dries it shrinks. The difference between these two states is quite high and is a major cause of houses settling. Some people do suggest, that the foundations for homes in such soils be constantly watered, to ensure they are in uniform conditions, but this is not a solution that is really workable over a long period of time. It is far better to design foundations or take them down to bed rock, or build them on piers or piles that have been driven down to bedrock.It is very essential to ensure water from eaves and roofs are led away from a foundation in cases where soil is clayey. A proper drainage system all around the perimeter can also ensure that soil conditions remain constant and thus not vulnerable to wet and dry conditions.

You can be sure that your house is settling if you notice small cracks in the foundation or walls. Cracks in walls can act as ways to let in water or pests, which can further aggravate the problem. Doors that get jammed or windows that will not close, do point to their frames being out of alignment. This is caused by settlement of foundations, which then must be looked at by foundation experts.

Related:  Foundation settling a common problem

Worried About The Cost Of Foundation Repair?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere isn’t any home repair company that’ll allow you the repairs for free. They don’t just do it for the sheer joy of fixing up a house. A lot of people complain about the high cost of home repairs. It might be true that the cost is a little more then it should be. It doesn’t matter though, because you still need to fix the problems your home throws at you. This could be as simple as a broken garage door, or it could be something much more serious. Does your foundation need repair?

The cost of getting your foundation repaired is going to depend on a lot. First of all, it’s going to depend on how bad the damage is. Next, it’ll be about the size of your home. Then, it could have something to do with the company you use. Last, but not least, it’ll have a great deal to do with were you live.

Usually, if you’re a resident of the United States, then you should be able to find foundation repair for about $350 a pier. This goes up and down depending on location, and contractor. If the problem is extensive, you might need to get the whole house leveled. This could cost as much as $15,000 depending on the size of your home. It could cost less though because it’s usually about $6,000 per one thousand square feet.

Why should I spend this type of money to get my house leveled? You’d like to be able to sell your house one day? Or perhaps you’re giving it to someone that doesn’t want a valueless home? In these cases, you’ll need a proper foundation for your house to maintain it’s value. A house with a bad foundation can lose %100 of its value. This means you’ll be paying your mortgage for a worth-nothing house if you don’t get the foundation repaired.

Also, you may need to fix the foundation so your other home repairs will look nice. A lot of contractors agree that having an uneven foundation can cause issues when putting in doors or frames. It can also make the windows in your home look crooked upon installation. This is just one reason to make sure you fix the foundation of your home before any other problem.

Don’t think you’re exempt from the problems of having a bad foundation because your home is new. A lot of home owners, who have had their home built recently, are surprised by the foundation problems that come with it. When new homes settle into the ground, foundation problems can arise. That’s why we need to make sure we have our home looked at, so we can insure there is a proper foundation.

I hope you find the right people for the job. Finding the best people to do your home repairs starts with you doing your research. Look up reviews of the contractor you’re thinking about hiring before you allow them into your home.

We’d like to recognize a very good team of foundation experts in the Dallas, TX area:

Related: Pier and beam repair

Foundation Settling Is a Common Problem That Does Need To Be Looked At Carefully

foundation settlingThe home is, for most people, an investment that they make once in a lifetime. If there are any problems with the structural integrity of the home, like foundation settling, it can be, as they say, unsettling. Homes go through normal wear and tear over time, and it is necessary to differentiate between this and problems that call for immediate attention.

The foundation of a home is the one that takes on all the load of a home and helps in its structural integrity. Most homes have foundations made of concrete, reinforced by steel. Over time, concrete does harden, shrink and crack and it is the job of the steel reinforcement to hold it together. Natural changes also take place in soils on which the foundations are based and this can be because of time and weather. This can cause foundation settling which makes the home sink further into the ground.

Foundation settling can also happen when the soil is not prepared adequately before the foundation is placed on it. If the foundation is on clay, the soil can swell up and in case of drought, the clay can shrink and cause foundation settling that can be as high as five inches, even where proper care has been taken during the construction of foundations. It is this expansion and contraction of soils that is the main contributor to foundation settling problems in homes.

Foundation settling can be non-threatening, even where cracks are seen in foundations, but it is always necessary to be on the lookout for any telltale signs that indicate other foundation problems that many need immediate attention. A jagged crack in walls that run at forty five degrees indicated that the material has sheared, and that the foundation is shifting and causing the crack. When doors and windows do not close properly, or get jammed, it is a sure indication that their alignments are disturbed. Do check problems with hinges and hardware before rushing to any conclusion.


The higher floors of a home are likely to show the first signs of distress, which result from foundation settling, and the most vulnerable spots are those above window frames, which may show cracks. Cracks can also occur in foundation walls, but if it is horizontal, it is more an indication of water behind the wall that is causing the pressure.

Monitor the sizes of any cracks that you notice. Lightly paper them over. The paper will tear if the crack is expanding. If this happens at very short time intervals, it is high time you called in the experts to look at your foundations and suggest remedies that can help you deal with the foundation settling. When such problems are addressed well in time, the damage will be minimal as will the expense. Fortunately, it is possible nowadays to carry out foundation repair, without disturbing the home and its residents in any major way. Neglect on the other hand may force you to even vacate the home for major surgery on the foundations of your home.

Related: Settling of a foundation