Conscientious people want to know if there is a good, better, best, or bad time of year to get their foundation repaired. When you’re about to throw down a good chunk of change on foundation repairs, you want to make sure it goes as far as possible for you.
Good for you for being among the elite and aware homeowners that want to optimize their foundation repair dollars!
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been repairing foundations year-round for 35+ years. We understand better than most how the time of year can impact a home foundation during the repair process. More than anything, we understand the methods of foundation repair available, the principles that make them work, and how the time of year factors into both.
This article will discuss the idea of an optimal time of year for foundation repairs and the factors that influence our answer.
Is There a Good or Better Time to Get A Foundation Repaired?
There are quite a few articles that I have already spotted (and you might have too) on the interwebs talking about the perfect time to get your foundation repairs completed. Many of them are very definitive, saying, “Yes, you should get your foundation repaired in ABC season because of XYZ.”
Other articles are clearly trying to sell you something, saying things like, “NOW is the best time to get your foundation repaired because you shouldn’t wait another minute!”
Well, we’re here to throw out another option and say that the real answer to the question of *Is there a good or better time to get your foundation repaired* is “yes and no.” I know, I know . . . this is one of those answers that people hate, but hear me out for a minute.
The answer is YES in some cases, and NO in some cases. It all boils down to the method of foundation repair being used on your home.
The answer is YES, there is a good or better time to get your foundation repaired using the pressed pile repair method. When a repair contractor uses concrete or steel pressed pilings for your foundation repairs, then there are times that are better for those methods.
The answer is NO, the timing doesn’t matter if the repair contractor is using drilled piers. When a repair contractor uses the drilled bell-bottom pier method of repair, it does not matter if it’s summer, winter, spring, or fall.
Full disclosure statement: we only use drilled piers so we are obviously a fan of this method. However, we pledge to present the information about both methods impartially and honestly as there is value in both options depending on the needs of the homeowner.
Is Summer a Bad Time for Foundation Repairs?
During the summer months, we often get the question about summer being a bad time for repairs. This should probably be added to our list of top myths in the world of foundation repair because summer is not always a bad time for foundation repairs. If you are using drilled piers for repairs, then summer is just as fine as any other time of the year
If pressed pilings are being used, then summer in Texas is a bad time for foundation repairs, unfortunately. Double unfortunately is that the vast majority of foundation repair companies use some variation of pressed piles.
They can be concrete or steel or have some kind of patented system, but all pressed piles work in principal the same way, and summer (i.e. hot and dry) is not a good time for them to be installed and work optimally.
So, YES summer in Texas is a bad time to install pressed piles, but NO summer is not a bad time for drilled piers. To be more specific, it’s not the summer season that’s important, it’s the weather condition of dryness and lack of moisture in the soil.
If you are in another area of the country or world with different climate conditions, it’s about the dryness of the soil and whatever season that occurs in your neck of the woods.
Why is Summer Not Favorable for Pressed Piling Foundation Repairs?
Your next question is likely why. Why is summer *no good* for pressed piles? Well, it all has to do with the way that the pilings are installed, how they work in the ground, and the theoretical concept behind all of it.
If it sounds like we are about to get a little geeky and engineer-y that’s because we are . . . sorry folks . . . I will try to keep it as simple as possible.
Construction of Pressed Piles
Pressed piles are made out of a bunch of concrete or steel cylinders stacked on top of each other and pushed underground by force. The number of cylinders used depends on the moisture content of the soil at the time of installation and the weight of your home, so the number of cylinders used can be different depending on the time of year.
Installation of Pressed Pile System
Workers push the cylinders into the ground one by one using a hydraulic jack. The repair crew would continue pressing more and more cylinders stacked on top of each other in a pile until they can’t anymore. This is called the “point of refusal” and means that the soil won’t allow anything else to go in it.
The point of refusal of the soil will be more generous when the soil is wet. The point of refusal will be less when our expansive clay soils are dry and hard. Just imagine trying to stick something in the ground when the ground is dry vs. when the ground is wet. Are you imagining how this will go for you?
This is a very basic description of the installation, for more specific and riveting details on this process check this out: What Are Concrete Pressed Pilings? Foundation Repair Pros and Cons.
How Pressed Piles Work in the Ground
The pressed piles support the home through tension, kind of like a battery held into place with a spring on one end. In this case, the “spring” is the uplifting soil below the pier pushing up against the weight of the house. The moisture content at the time of installation plays a major role in creating this tension.
They (engineer-y construction-y people) call it *skin friction* but that is a weird term in my opinion so I like my battery explanation better.
So now think about this, if your home is repaired using pressed pilings in the summer when the soil will not allow as many cylinders to be inserted, what happens to that tension when the soil becomes wetter in the winter and spring? Answer: the tension will lessen, go away, or change in some way and frankly makes it not work as well anymore.
This is why they say that summer is a bad time for foundation repair, but really it’s a bad time for pressed pile foundation repair.
A better time for pressed pile foundation repair is when there is a medium amount of moisture in the soil, but then you’ve got another problem. When is there a medium amount of moisture in Texas soil and how often or long does it stay that way??
It’s tough to pinpoint the best time to install pressed piles or ensure they will continue to function properly throughout the year due to their dependence on moisture levels and soil tension. Since Texas is notorious for moisture extremes from drought to hurricanes, I will let you mull this information over for a while. . .
Drilled piers work in a different way and do not rely on this tension, which we will explain in the next section.
Why Does It Not Matter When You Do Drilled Pier Foundation Repair?
Drilled bell-bottom piers work differently than pressed piles. It’s an alternative way to do things, but more importantly, it’s the concept behind the method that matters.
Let’s briefly explain drilled piers similarly to how we explained the pressed piles: by explaining the construction, installation, and how they work in the ground. And if you want the more detailed version now, it’s here: What Are the Pros and Cons of Drilled Pier Foundations Repair?
Construction of Bell-Bottom Piers
Bell-bottom piers are made on-site and don’t use premade items for the support system. A hole is dug and a straight shaft is further drilled out into the ground. At the bottom of the shaft, a bell shape is created by a spinning tool that cuts into the earth, making a wider base for the pier. Steel rebar is inserted into the length of the shaft.
Next, concrete is poured into each pre-drilled hole that is between 10 to 12 feet in depth. This pier depth is important because it is to reach a stable level of soil where moisture from the climate has little influence.
After the piers are poured, a waiting period (about 7-10 days) will go by to allow the concrete to cure.
Installation of Bell-Bottom Pier System
The bell-bottom pier construction and installation happen at the same time since everything takes place on-site and is created with poured concrete.
How Bell-Bottom Piers Work in the Ground
The bell on a bell-bottom pier works to resist the uplift of expansive soils and is not dependent upon the normal moisture level of the soil to work properly. The bell shape grips and pulls down with an “anchor effect” that holds the pier in position under our changing moisture and climate conditions.
This anchoring effect and the bell-bottom shape keep the piers from pushing up on the home during wet seasons and keep the piers from sinking under drier conditions.
So the concept with drilled piers is not about tension or skin friction against the soil. It’s about reaching a stable depth in the soil and building a strong reinforced footing for your home to rest upon.
If the soil dries out in the shallower depths of the ground, it does not affect the bell-bottom base of a drilled pier with less friction or tension because it’s not using that tension to stay in place or hold up your home. It’s using a large, bottom-heavy, reinforced underground pillar for support and tension does not assist in its stability.
Factors that Influence the Optimal Timing of Foundation Repair
We have reviewed the construction, installation, and concept of pressed pile vs drilled pier foundation repairs. So just to summarize what we have learned, two huge factors influence the perfect timing of foundation repairs:
- The chosen method, and
- The moisture levels of the soil.
If you choose pressed pilings for your foundation repairs, then make sure that the soil moisture conditions are in the medium range, not too dry, and not too wet. This could be regionally different depending on the nature of your seasonal moisture.
If you choose drilled piers for your foundation repairs, then get your foundation repaired whatever season you need to. Moisture doesn’t matter during installation and doesn’t affect functionality afterward either.
When Is the Best Time to Get Your Foundation Repaired?
Deciding when to get your foundation repaired in the world of drilled piers is about when you are ready to do the foundation repairs, not about the season.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we only use drilled bell-bottom piers for all our slab foundation repairs over the past 35+ years and counting. It’s more important for you to feel comfortable and confident about moving forward with repairs, and not feel pressured by a foundation repair contractor or the time of year.