Foundation damage is one of the costliest catastrophes that any homeowner can face. If part of your foundation has settled, then you likely want to repair the damage in a way that is both permanent and cost-effective. Lifting an existing structure is not an easy or cheap task, but a variety of methods exist that can allow you to save your home.
In cases where a foundation has already begun to sink, piers are often the repair method of choice. Piers work by physically lifting the affected portion of the structure while providing support against future collapse. If you are facing this situation with your home, then there are several vital facts you will need to understand about this process.
Sunken Foundations and Load-Bearing Soil
One of the most common causes for a settled foundation is soil that becomes saturated and then later dries out. As moisture drains from the ground, it can begin to shift and sink. If this soil supports your foundation's footing, then a portion of your foundation may begin to collapse along with it. The severity of these problems can range from cracking to entire parts of a structure tilting away from level.
Since the root cause of these failures is unstable soil, it's necessary to find purchase deeper below the foundation footing. When it comes to structural engineering, this level of the soil is known as the "load-bearing strata." You may also hear it referred to as bedrock. In non-technical terms, this is the layer of earth that can bear the weight of your home's foundation without shifting.
Finding Support With Piers, Piles, and Jacks
If you're confused about terms like "piers" and "piles," it may be comforting to understand that these are relatively simple devices. For most foundation repair systems, the term "pier" refers to a support bracket placed under the footing of the foundation. Contractors will usually place several piers evenly around the affected section of the foundation.
Once the piers are in place, rods (or "piles") can be driven deep into the ground. The purpose of these rods is to reach the load-bearing level of the soil that will ultimately support the sunken portion of your foundation. After your contractors have driven the piles to the appropriate level, they can then use jacks to lift the foundation back into place.
Although they can be costly, piers are one of the most effective and permanent solutions for foundation repair. Since the piles reach bedrock, future flooding events or shifting soil should not affect your foundation. In many cases, skilled repair contractors can use piers to restore your home to its original condition.
To learn more, contact a resource like Du-West Foundation Repair.