Foundation Repair Services
Foundation repair is a service in high demand, and for this reason, it is also full of dangers. The biggest danger is in finding a foundation repair contractor that you can trust.
Each foundation repair company has its claim to fame. They make boasts about how great their foundation piers designs are for your home's foundation. The nature of this is simple. Every pier design has its uses and points that it works better than others, but under most conditions, all of the different types of piers are going to perform about the same for lifting and leveling a home slab or beam.
For the most part, it is all a gimmick to catch your attention and impress upon you a feeling of security. A prime example of this is the cable reinforced pier system. Buried cable is going to rust away rapidly in the soil. This particular pier design can have other problems as a result of the cable, but we are not going to discuss them in this article.
Foundation Repair Companies
Most foundation repair companies and sales persons are practicing a live performance magic show. What I mean by this is that their presentation is mostly for show. They use elaborate pier designs and tools to make you believe that you need their services and piers, and that their pier is the only way that you can get it done right. While, most of us are smart enough to understand that there are other foundation repair companies with different styles of piers, and that other piers will perform the same function, it can be difficult to determine the truth about the need for piers.
Foundation Repair Dallas
Foundation Repair Inspections in Dallas
Almost all foundation repair companies and engineers or inspectors use technology for their measurements, and base their results on this technology. This can be misleading for all parties involved because technology is only as useful as the person operating it. Unfortunately, people assume that this technology is always correct and don't consider their common sense.
The particular piece of technology that I am referring to is a computerized level or compu-level. I'm sure that you have seen them if you are looking to have your foundation checked. These levels are very useful for determining elevations and where level would be, but are not useful in determining movement of a house foundation. In all of the years that I have been in the construction industry, I have never seen a foundation of any form that was completely level, and therefore, from its original position, there would be grade changes if measured using a compu-level, when in fact, no movement has occurred.
How to determine movement in house foundations.
There are better more accurate ways to determine movement in a slab foundation or house foundation. These methods don't use technology, but are scientific, though they may not appear to be as impressive as fancy equipment. To determine the amount of movement if any in a foundation, you must understand the original construction of the home.
When building a house, the foundation is going to have higher and lower points. This may be the result of poor planning, accidental movement of a foundation form board, misplacement of the form, or highs and lows in the center of the foundation. The concrete being liquid and setting up rapidly and over large areas make it difficult to get it perfect. This is where the acceptable variances come from. For this purpose, it is left to the framers and the brick masons to make things more straight and level. The framers generally level the top plate or the elevation where the ceiling will generally come across the home. This is useful for your internal measurements, although it is not always accurate due to the carelessness that occurs when trying to rush through these projects.
For the outside or perimeter elevations, the most effective way to measure movement is to consider the bricklayers. Brick masons measure and story off the courses of brick from the top down, and place any cuts at the bottom to level out the bottom course. Then they lay each course up using a string line to increase speed and keep straight lines and prevent the line of the brick from curving up or down and in or out. Therefore, using a string line on the brick coursing should show any movement that has occurred, and how much movement took place. The line may not be level, but it will never lie.
A compulevel can be useful as a second set of eyes though. It can be used to determine if results are correct, but only if it is used to take readings from the top plate. Most of these factors are visually evident if the inspector knows what to look for and where to be looking.
How to get affordable foundation repair services
When you are looking to get foundation repair on your home, there are many issues that you should be aware of about the foundation repair industry. So, before we attempt to get you signed up for an estimate, we want to take a minute to make you aware of some of the industry practices the we feel are less than honest, and explain why. We do this because you deserve to make a well informed decision which starts with a basic understanding of foundation repair and industry practices.
How many foundation piers are needed?
Do you need foundation repair and piers installed to level your home?
Based on the Foundation Repair Association's own website, about 90% of all foundation piers sold are not necessary. This is a very bold statement. Now this statement makes me a bit nervous about the industry as a whole when I consider that the top representatives of this organization are the owners of many major foundation repair companies. Make of that information what you will, but you can verify it for yourself on their website.
With this in mind, we should take a look at how this happens.
How foundation repair scams work!
Foundation Repair Estimate Dallas
When you request an estimate for foundation repair, you are going to be visited by a sales person, not an owner or an engineer. This sales person is generally paid solely on his commissions of how much he has sold. Therefore, it is in his best interest to sell you as many piers as he thinks he can get away with, or send you away if he thinks that you can't afford the service.
Now, I will explain how these foundation repair salesmen are able to sell so many unnecessary piers.
If you have already had an estimate, or an engineer's inspection, then you are probably already familiar with the computerized level or compu-level for short. They bring in this tool and start taking measurements on your floors (most engineers will measure at the top-plate as much as possible). Then they sit down with you and show or tell you what their readings were from the level. This can be off by several inches throughout your house, and works great as a scare tactic selling point of foundation repair.
Don't be fooled by this slide of hand magic show. It is solely intended to make the person look important and give them numbers that you can see to scare you with. Taking these readings makes it look like they are doing something and are getting reliable results.
This is not the truth. Technology is great, but limited to its proper use. Before you could rely on the readings of the compu-level to tell you how much your home has moved, you would first have to know where each exact point of measure was when the home was first built, and you would need a reliable bench mark from where the original readings were taken.
All of these factors just are not possible. A bench mark would have moved independently from the home, and there are not original readings to compare the new readings to. This makes it impossible to use a compu-level to determine the amount of movement in a home's foundation, or where movement has occurred, if any at all. The technology is limited to the parameters of its design and programming. This is to say that a compu-level is not capable of adding and subtracting. The program just wasn't designed for the use of determining movement.
How much foundation movement has occurred?
Foundation Settling Cracks
There are, however, ways of determining movement, where it has occurred, and how much it has moved. These answers about your foundation movement or settling can only be answered in an understanding of the home's original construction, and a brief amount of mechanics and physics.
Foundation settling cracks explain how and where movement has occurred.
By studying the bowing, cracking, and other signs of movement, you can determine the direction of settling or heaving of the home. For instance, when looking at a crack in a wall, it will either open (get wider) toward the top or the bottom of the wall. A crack that gets wider to the top, is likely to have heaving under that specific area or one or both sides have settled. A crack that gets wider to the bottom, is going to be just the opposite, but is most likely to be settling directly at that point. There are ways to determine which is the case. It requires more information from other parts of the house, plumbing locations, trees, and the outside readings.
One of the best tools for checking movement around the perimeter of a brick home is a string-line and set of line-blocks. Now this may sound silly, but it goes back to the original construction of the home.
I have never in all my years in the construction industry (about 30) nor have I ever heard of a home being built completely level or square. These imperfections in the foundation are left to the framers and brick masons to hide or make un noticeable. This is exactly why you cannot completely level a house and expect the foundation repairs to be correct.
In the attempt by the framers and the bricklayers to hide the imperfections, the framers generally level the top-plate of the wall so that the ceilings are level, and the bricklayers story their brick coursing from the top down so that any cuts are at the bottom of the wall and not in front of your eye level. When they lay these courses of brick, they use a string-line not a level to keep their lines straight, and as level as the top of the wall.
These are honest methods of determining movement in the foundation of your house. Don't settle for the magic show. They will almost always sell you foundation piers that you don't need, or place them in the wrong spot. Affordable foundation repair starts by providing honest estimates and only selling you the foundation piers that your house needs.
We only install standard pressed concrete cylinder piers.
Pressed concrete cylinders are the most durable over time, most affordable piers to install, and are generally the best type of foundation piers for most structures in our area.