Pier Installation Basics

Piers transfer the weight of your foundation downward to strong supporting soils. They can also be installed inside your home to stabilize interior walls.

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Foundation piers are designed to stabilize a home’s foundation and prevent sinking and settlement. They also help support structures that aren’t located on a foundation, such as porches and decks. To install these piers, the work crew will use heavy machinery equipped with hydraulic attachments. One popular method is helical piers, which are screwed into the ground and can be driven down to bedrock. This technique is ideal for situations where other types of piers would have a hard time reaching the necessary depth.

Before helical piers can be installed, the crew must first drill the holes. This requires using power augers to dig 2′ by 2′ holes at each pier location. This is a lot of digging, but it’s important that the holes are dug to a depth that exceeds our region’s frost table. This will ensure that the piers will be stable throughout the winter.

Once the holes have been dug, the crew will begin drilling out straight shafts. Each shaft is attached to a “bell” at the bottom, which helps give the piers their name. Once the shafts are in place, the helical pier can be placed into them and the job is complete. The entire process usually takes less than a week, but it depends on the size of your house and the condition of the soil grade.

If you have paved driveways or concrete walkways around your home, the work crew will need to break them up before installing the helical piers. This will add to the overall cost of your project, but it’s a necessity for proper installation. Once the piers are in place, they will need to be capped and concretized to fully support the structure.

Hydraulic drilling is a powerful tool that can speed up the pier installation process and make it more efficient. However, it can be loud and disruptive to nearby homes. It is also difficult to maneuver in tight spaces, so it’s best suited for larger projects with ample space. In smaller applications, hand-held alternatives can be used to achieve the same results without the risk of damage to surrounding surfaces.

Stabil-Loc Piers

The Stabil-Loc Foundation Piering System uses a patented method (U.S. Patent # 8,206,063 B2) to provide superior load carrying capacity. This system is ideal for homes that require helical piers due to the weight or conditions of the home’s foundation. It uses interlocking segments of high strength steel that are driven into the soil with a hydraulic installation machine. The piers are monitored for pressure during installation, which allows the contractor to stop when the pier has reached competent load-bearing soil. It is also a more cost-effective system because it requires no brackets, removal of the footing or off-set loads.

During the pier installation process, the contractors will use painter’s tape to mark the area where each helical pier will be installed. A hole will then be excavated at each location, which could require removal of a concrete or asphalt surface if needed to reach the footing. Each pier is then placed in the ground and connected to the foundation with steel foundation brackets.

Helical piers are known for their ability to stabilize settling foundations and restore damaged masonry structures by connecting the footings and walls back to solid, load-bearing soil. The helical plates welded to the pier shaft pull each pier into the soil during installation, and they also add anchoring strength once the weight of your home is transferred to the piers.

When compared to other systems, the Stabil-Loc pier has been proven to have the highest compressive load carrying capacity in the industry. This patented design is the result of years of research and development. The engineers at Thrasher have created a simple, efficient system that provides maximum support to your foundation, including the basement.

Other systems may be more complex or expensive, but they’re often not as effective at restoring settling foundations. For instance, the 3” off-set steel pipe pushed pier uses a bracket attached to the outer edge of the footing. The resulting eccentric loading forces the pier to lift away from the footing and can damage the structure. To reduce the off-set load, many contractors cut a section of the footing to get the bracket closer to the wall. However, this is not a wise course of action and can cause additional damage to your home.

Slab Piers

While helical and screw pile piers may be more effective for some situations, slab piers remain a popular foundation repair solution that can provide stability and lift homes back to their original position. They also tend to cost less than other repair options.

Slab piers function as stable columns that transfer your home’s weight to deeper, more stable soil. This prevents future settling and helps your property resist shifts and expansive soil conditions.

During the installation process, your foundation repair expert will first drill holes at each pier location. These holes will be approximately 36 in. below the floor of the basement, depending on where you live in the country. Your contractor will then use a hydraulic drill to install a rod through the hole. The rods will then be secured to the pier with steel brackets. Once the piers have been installed, your foundation repair contractor will fill the holes with grout and seal them to protect against future soil settlement.

After the piers are in place, your foundation repair expert will inspect each slab for evenness and consistency. This step will include a visual examination of the foundation, stucco walls, and floor measurements. It’s important to address any sagging, unevenness, or cracking as soon as possible to avoid further damage and minimize costs.

Next, your foundation repair contractor will add pressure to the piers by pumping grout at a low rate through the holes. This will slowly lift your house until it is closer to its original position. When this is done, the crew will refill the holes and make any necessary surface repairs to ensure that your home remains safe for years to come.

Ignoring signs of a deteriorating foundation is a pathway to more expensive repairs and permanent structural damage. Slab piers are a vital part of an overall strategy to sustain your home’s integrity, including crawl space repair and other services, and they can help safeguard your property value in the long term.

Installation Process

The first step in a pier installation is to perform an inspection. Your foundation repair contractor will look at the cracks in your concrete and take floor measurements to determine if a pier is the best solution for your foundation problem. If he or she recommends helical piers, the next step will be to prepare your property. This will include excavation around the foundation, so that the piers can be installed. The work will also require heavy machinery. We lay sections of plywood across your yard to reduce the size and severity of ruts this equipment creates, but ruts will still likely occur.

Drilled bell-bottom piers have a bracket that is attached to your foundation footing, which the helical plates are screwed into. This creates a connection that is stronger than the weight of your home and allows the helical plates to be driven into the soil. The helical plates also increase the surface area that makes contact with the earth to provide stability.

When installing push piers, the pier’s metal sleeve is installed into a steel bracket, which is then placed under your foundation footing. The pier is then driven into the ground until strong supporting soils or bedrock are reached. The sleeve strengthens the pier during installation, preventing the kinking and buckling that can happen with some other types of push piers.

Once the helical plates are in place, the installers will use torque motors to drive them into the ground. The piers will be driven until they are as close to your home’s original position as possible, without creating further damage. Once the piers have been driven to their required depth, the installers will backfill the excavated areas with dirt. This will help to support the piers and keep them in place, and it will also prevent water from draining towards your foundation. The last step will be to replace the landscaping that was disturbed during the excavation process.