One of the first significant signs you will see if a slab on grade foundation is settling will be cracks in the slab. These cracks can happen for several reasons: lack of moisture in the soil, the soil is poorly compacted, and many other factors can contribute to cracking in the slab. Cracks along the foundation are harder to spot and will frequently be running close to or towards window frames. Another common problem with slab on grade foundation is uneven floors. Over time due to natural causes, the foundation will start to settle slowly. This is due to the moisture, tree roots, original installation, and a countless amount of factors. These two symptoms almost always mean a repair is needed. However, slab on grade foundation repair can be a simple process to understand for homeowners and is one of the more cost-efficient repair methods.
The Repair Method
Slab foundation repair has many different techniques and methods to it. Different techniques are interchangeable depending on the type of soil, age of home, amount of damage, and even the drainage of the house. The primary method of repairing slabs involves digging under the foundation and placing pilings underneath to raise the foundation back to its original level. When looking at different types of piling installations, there are two options, steel pressed pilings or concrete pressed pilings. Both of these methods are amazing for repairing a home’s foundation; however, there are pros and cons to each one.
Pros to Steel Pressed Pilings
- Longevity; steel pressed pilings can last longer and provide a long term solution to a home’s foundation needs. Most companies offer a lengthy warranty policy to ensure this
- High Success Rate; because the steel is so much more reliable and can have great depth making the success rate almost 100%
- Depth; because steel pilings are more durable than concrete more depth can be achieved out of steel
Cons to Steel Pressed Pilings
- Expensive; steel piers are considerably more costly than concrete pilings
- Not always needed; if the soil is not that deep or the repair is for short term steel pilings may not be best
- Installation; although the installation is still a quick process it is a little slower than concrete pilings
Pros to Concrete Pressed Pilings
- Inexpensive; minimal upfront cost and a quick fix solution
- Speed of installation; most concrete pilings can be done in one business day, depending on the foundation’s condition.
- Simplicity; this process is straightforward and is not destructive just holes in areas that need to be raised
Cons to Concrete Pressed Pilings
- High failure rate; because there is limited depth concrete can penetrate often the repair is needed again
- No Longevity; concrete pressed pilings are expensive but provide no long term investment to a home
- Limited depth; pilings made of concrete cannot penetrate near as far as steel pilings because the concrete cannot stand up to the pressure
Foundation Repair Process
Once you have decided on a steel pressed or concrete pressed piling, that actual repair can start to begin. Luckily, no matter which piling method is used, the installation method remains the same. For starters, holes are dug to access the underside of the foundation. Installing pilings is a quick and easy process. Holes dug around the foundation provide access to the uneven parts of the foundation. Once underneath pilings are created by stacking concrete or steel pilings, then pressing those pilings into the soil with a hydraulic press. Once the pilings cannot go any deeper, the weight of the home can keep the pilings in place and prevent the house from sinking any deeper, causing more problems
Time of Installation
Installing pilings can be one of the quickest types of foundation repair depending heavily on the size and the amount of damage. For example, if only one piling was needed, then the repair would only take a few hours. Now, this is a rare case because most foundations shift in more than one area—no matter which method, steel or concrete, both are rapid to install.
Overall, concrete and steel pressed pilings are both viable options for foundation repair. When going through a home with possible foundation issues, remember to look for cracking along the slab near windows or doorways and check for uneven or cracking floors in the house as well. If there might be foundation damage, it is always best to consult a local foundation repair company to get an estimate and talk about all the options.