pros and cons of bell-bottom pier foundation repair

What Are The Pros and Cons of Drilled Pier Home Foundation Repair?

You’ve made the “groundbreaking” discovery that there are different methods of foundation repair. Who knew? I sure didn’t when I started in this field. I thought foundation repair was just done one way and you just had to find someone to do it for you. 

Nope, there are actually different methods to choose from for houses and you want to know more about drilled bell-bottom piers. Good for you!

Anchor Foundation Repair

At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been using the drilled bell-bottom pier method of foundation repair in Bryan, College Station, and surrounding towns like Navasota and Caldwell for over 35 years. We know *a thing or two* about it and can give you the details.

Although this is our chosen method of foundation repair, we make sure that homeowners know that there is no “one best method” for everyone, but that everyone must find the method that works best for them and their home situation. So, it might not always be us, and that’s okay because we ultimately want what’s best for you.

Let’s take a look at how drilled piers are constructed, installed, and work in the ground. We will also review the pros and cons of drilled bell-bottom piers and what situations they work best for so that you can determine if they are right for you.

Drilled Bell-Bottom Pier Method Overview

Here’s where we will detail how drilled piers are made, installed, and function in supporting your home.

Construction of Bell-Bottom Piers

Bell-bottom piers are hand-made on site. 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.

bell-bottom pier foundation repair

It makes sense that it is called a bell-bottom system because it really is very much like a pair of bell-bottom pants, straight down the legs and the bottom flares out at the end.

Steel rebar is inserted into the length of the shaft for strength. Next, concrete is hand poured on location into each pre-drilled hole and then topped off with a steel-reinforced concrete cap. The entire pier structure, which includes the bell shape at the bottom, the straight shaft, and the pier cap is between 10 to 12 feet in depth under your home.

After the piers are poured, a waiting period (about 7-10 days) will go by to allow the fresh concrete to cure as much as possible for strength.

Installation of Bell-Bottom Pier System

The bell-bottom pier construction and installation happen at the same time since everything takes place and is made on-site. Since all piers are made by hand, it takes more skill and experience to construct and install this system.

How Bell-Bottom Piers Work in the Ground

The bell on a bell-bottom pier works to resist the uplift of expansive clay 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 normal changing moisture and climate conditions.

This anchoring effect keeps the pier from pushing up on the home during wet seasons and keeps the pier from sinking down under drier conditions. Now the name Anchor Foundation Repair makes a little more sense too, huh?

Cons Of The Bell-Bottom Pier System

Just like any repair method, there are pros and cons in choosing the bell-bottom pier system. Because the piers are built individually on-site, the process takes longer and must include the concrete curing time.

Con: Longer Work Time

time to call Anchor Foundation Repair

The whole job takes longer because there are more steps in the construction of the piers with first digging, drilling the shaft, and then pouring the concrete by hand. This process takes more skill from the repair team due to the need for know-how about each step from digging, to operating a drill and the “beller,” to pouring and finishing the concrete.

Con: Higher Cost (or is it a pro?)

Foundation Repair Solutions for the Brazos Valley

With more time and skill required for the job, also comes an increased price tag. A contractor using the bell-bottom pier method will likely have higher prices than the cost of the pressed pile system. This may or may not be a bad thing, ever hear the saying, “You get what you pay for?” You will have to decide if a higher price is a pro or con for yourself.

Pros Of The Bell Bottom Pier System

The main advantage of the bell-bottom pier system is that it results in longer-lasting stability to the home. This is because it can be confirmed that the pier is straight, it has been engineer-confirmed that uplift and settling resistance is better, and effectiveness is not altered by the moisture content of the soil at install time.

Pro: Confirmation of Straight Installation

pressed piles vs bell bottom piers

It can be confirmed that the pier was installed straight because they drilled the hole on-site, no chance that things went off course.

Pro: Better At Resisting Soil Uplift and Settling

It has been verified by an independent professional engineering team that this system resists uplift and settling in a way that other methods cannot due to the wide bell-bottom base. The system also does not depend upon the weight of the home resting on top of it to create the tension needed for effectiveness.

Pro: Effectiveness Does Not Depend on Conditions at Installation Time

The effectiveness of this method also does not depend on the moisture content of the soil at the time of installation. Piers will be constructed and installed the same way no matter what the climate is like at the time or the live load weight at install time.

What Situations Or Homeowners Is The Bell-Bottom Pier Method Best Suited For?

  • A homeowner that loves their home and plans to stay in it for a very long time.
  • A homeowner that wants to pass their home down to their children someday and doesn’t want them to have to worry about this repair later.
  • A homeowner that loves their home and is planning a fabulous remodel someday.
  • A homeowner that had made many memories in their home and wants the best care and maintenance for it.
  • A lightweight home that does not have enough mass to make other methods function properly. This would be true of small, older homes.

Our Bell-Bottom Piers Come with a Lifetime Warranty

Foundation repair companies in our area specialize in different methods. We live in a smaller community and don’t have a great number of choices in each repair method type. So really when you are choosing a foundation repair contractor around here, you are also choosing a specific repair method.

Anchor Foundation Repair chooses to use the bell-bottom pier system because we believe it to be the best method for all the pros listed above and have been perfecting the method right here in BCS and the surrounding Brazos Valley communities since 1985. 

We love that the method has the following qualities: guaranteed depth, confirmation that the pier is straight, a bell-bottom that best resists uplift and settling, is not dependent upon climate conditions at the time of installation.

We are so confident in this method that we also offer a lifetime warranty on our workmanship. Anchor is best for homeowners who want to take the time to get the highest quality repair and the longest-lasting results so that you never have to worry about your foundation again.