Foundation Repair: What Is the Best Method, and Can I Do It Myself?
The Best Method
Ram Jack’s Patented Steel Piles– Made from American steel, designed to last. Unlike many foundation repair methods, Ram Jack’s driven and helical piles go down beyond the shallow, shifting soil to the more stable and impermeable earth. Ram Jack’s driven steel piles are pushed by a dual driving head for a faster and more stable installation, and variable-length guide sleeves – preferred by engineers – are used to maintain and strengthen pilings in loose surface soils.
Comparison of different foundation repair methods to Ram Jack’s Steel Piers.
- Driven: Galvanized or epoxy-coated steel pipes connected together and driven with a hydraulic ram into the deep, load bearing soil beneath a foundation to raise and support it, and prevent settlement.
- Helical: Steel pipes with spiral blades on the lower ends. The front section has one or more helixes (spirals) attached, giving the necessary bearing capacity and the piles are twisted into the ground with a hydraulic torque motor. Because of the helixes on the piles they don’t have to be as deep as driven piles.
In both methods, steel piles are driven into rock or a similar soil – deeper than concrete is placed – and are connected to the foundation using a metal head assembly. Once a strong enough bearing capacity is reached, the piles are tested with more pressure than what’s necessary to support the structure to ensure they can withstand the weight. The embedded steel piers are then attached to hydraulic jacks, which are used to lift the foundation back to the original level. After the structure is elevated to the desired level the piles are bolted/welded to wall brackets, securing the structure on the new elevation (ref: Concrete Network).
Alternative [Inferior] Methods
- Concrete Press Piles– Preset concrete columns pushed into the ground under a foundation to support it. These are installed faster than concrete piers, are less expensive than steel piles and can be used immediately following installation, as opposed to Concrete Piers, which must harden; however, because the piles are unconnected and made of concrete, they are more susceptible to shift.
- Concrete Piers– Liquid concrete is poured into holes drilled into the ground and when the concrete dries it forms columns that go down to support a concrete foundation. The process, though, is messy, labor-intensive and takes approximately three weeks to properly install since the concrete must harden, and nothing can interfere with the pier while it is hardening – and knowing when these piers reach bedrock or a similar load bearing strata is sometimes difficult.
Although these may seem like reasonable methods, concrete is not a good material for supporting foundations.
- Mudjacking/Slabjacking – Commonly used for raising smaller flat concrete layouts such as sidewalks, patios, garage and basement floors, etc. It’s a cleaner, more affordable alternative to replacing falling concrete. Although Mudjacking/Slabjacking is useful for repairing small concrete slabs, this is not a method of repairing a foundation.
(Ref: Lift Concrete: Mudjack).
The Best/Recommended Way
Steel is the most efficient, stable and permanent solution for repairing a foundation because of its resistance, bearing capacity and reliability.
Can You Do It Yourself?
There are many variables when it comes to foundation repair. If a foundation is sinking, finding the real problem and correcting it can be difficult. So, can you do it yourself? Well, if your house is atop a crawl space and is sinking towards the middle, not around the edges (perimeter), you might be able to do it yourself; however, if your house is atop a slab or a crawl space and is settling around the edges, you absolutely need a professional foundation repair contractor (ref: DIY Foundation Repair).
Also, with doing it yourself, there are risks, and no guarantees that the process will stabilize your house’s foundation, which could end up wasting your time and resources, so why take the chance? Allow the experts at Ram Jack to analyze the situation, find the underlying problems and determine a permanent fix to stabilize your foundation.