So, you’ve started noticing cracks.
First it was cracks in the drywall upstairs, starting at the corner of your bedroom doors.
Then you went into the basement and saw more signs of foundation damage: tipping walls and cracks in the corners of the walls and down the middle.
Finally, while cleaning up the flowerbeds, you saw some cracks that looked like stair steps, running between the bricks on the outside wall of your home. And they were BIG cracks.
I hate to tell you, Mr. or Ms. Chicago Homeowner, but your foundation is sinking and you need to do something. But what?
Sinking foundations are nothing new; they’ve been plaguing homeowners as long as we’ve been building houses with foundations. There have been many repair methods devised over the years, including tearing out and replacing the damaged foundation, installing concrete pilings under the house and installing “helical” piers that screw into the ground under the house.
Many of these methods are still in use although replacing a foundation is breathtakingly expensive, concrete pilings don’t work all that well and helical piers are best used for lighter loads. The best method is the hydraulically driven steel pier, sometimes known as a “push” pier.
The steel pier consists of a column of heavy duty, galvanized tubular steel that is driven, section by section, into the earth alongside the foundation. The number of piers used is determined by load calculations and engineering studies.
The installation procedure for steel piers is surprisingly simple and causes minimal disruption. First, a hole is dug alongside the foundation at the site of the pier. A steel bracket is attached to the foundation that includes a “shelf” under the foundation footings and a hydraulic driver is installed on top of the bracket.
The driver is then used to drive sections of the pier through the bracket into the ground, adding new sections until the pier hits a load-bearing stratum, often called “bedrock.” Once the piers have been installed and loads have been tested, all piers are connected through a manifold to a hydraulic pump and the entire affected section of the house is slowly and gently raised back to level.
Once the structure is level, the piers are secured to the brackets, the driving equipment is removed and exterior soil and landscaping can be restored to their original condition. Repairs can then be made to both interior and exterior cracks and fissures with the knowledge that the house is permanently protected against further sinking or settlement.
As you can imagine, the proper assessment, design and installation of a steel pier system are not to be left to amateurs. Handling a critical job like this requires not only expertise and experience but also the right products and systems to make an effective, permanent and reliable repair.
At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve been doing structural foundation repair in the Chicago area for a long time, almost as long as we’ve been in business. We’ve tried the other methods and have always sought out the best equipment, materials and techniques for our customers and their homes.
We have invested in the training of a special group of advisors and installers to handle structural foundation repairs so, if you’re starting to see cracks in your home, please ask for a free consultation.
If you want to know more about steel piers or other foundation repairs, please ask your questions in the Comments box below.