Pier and Beam Foundation Pros and Cons

In most of the South, including the Dallas metro area, there are two popular styles of foundations. Slab foundations are simply a solid concrete surface on which the house sits. Pier and beam foundations are a bit more complex. They feature piers of rebar and concrete that are anchored deep in the ground. Beams then connect the various piers and distribute the weight of the house. Whether you’re planning on building a house, in the market for a home, or make a living selling homes, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of pier and beam foundation design. Here’s a breakdown from the experts at Align Foundation Repair:

Pier and Beam Foundation Advantages

  • Stability Over Time: One of the main pier and beam foundation benefits is stability over time on loose soil. If you’re building on soft ground, or on soil that expands and contracts due to moisture, a slab foundation may shift. Since pier and beam designs are similar to building on stilts, they allow for a crawl space between the ground and your home. This means there will be little shift in your foundation as the years go by.
  • Easy Access to Utilities: Another perk of the crawl space between your home and the earth is easier access to utilities. If you want to add a bathroom, or rewire cable or electricity it will be a breeze with a pier and beam foundation.
  • Less Likely to Flood: Since pier and beam foundations are usually elevated approximately 2’ off the ground, they are less prone to minor or moderate flooding. If you live in a flood prone area, you may want to choose to build your home with a pier and beam foundation for this reason alone.

Pier and Beam Foundation Disadvantages

  • Vermin: Unwanted guests may try to make their home in the crawl space created by a pier and beam foundation. A lattice around your foundation can be an attractive way to keep larger animals out. Should you have an insect infestation, it’s best to call a professional exterminator.
  • Mold and Mildew: Moisture underneath a pier and beam foundation house can lead to mold and mildew buildups. This can cause an unpleasant odor in your home.
  • Creaky Floors: Floors built on pier and beam foundations are more likely to creak as you move around your home. While some noise is normal, it can be a sign of a larger problem.

If something seems off with your foundation, don’t hesitate to call a pro. Contact the pier and beam specialists at Align Foundation Repair today, and make sure your foundation stays strong for many years to come.

Drilled Pier for Home Foundation

Pier and Beam Foundation Problems

Pier and beam foundations are commonplace in the North Texas, area due to the construction generally working well for the soil conditions in the region. Nevertheless, the foundation isn’t without its problems, especially when exposed to weather and temperature extremes. We’ll highlight some of the common pier and beam foundation issues and what homeowners can do about it.

The Common Issues at a Glance

Water can cause movement of both interior and exterior areas. Too much water in the soil can cause the piers to sink. This can also cause piers to tilt, resulting in beam destabilization if one pier sags deeper than another. In turn, this causes components like the door and window to get out of kilter and not open or shut properly.

With a moist environment also comes a flooded crawlspace. The moisture can also make its way into the joists and beams, setting the perfect environment for mold and mildew growth. In turn, this leads to wood rot. Moldy wood is also a festering ground for termites.

Another issue is shim failure, which is often due to poor construction and use of inferior materials, such as plywood or sheet-rock. Steel shims are far sturdier.

Signs of a Damaged Pier and Beam Foundation

The signs are similar to that of other foundational issues. This includes cracks where the wall and ceiling meet. You may also notice cracks in areas with concrete, such as garage and basement floors. If the concrete is chipping or flaking, then that may be another symptom. This is especially the case of older homes, which often contain inferior concrete made from salty sand.

How to Prevent Pier and Beam Foundation Problems

It’s apparent that water is a prime attributor of pier and beam issues. Prevention, therefore, revolves mainly around water buildup prevention and watering during dry times.

• Clean the gutters and clear it of leaves, dirt, and other debris.
• Redirect the downspout. As a general rule, the spout should be at least 5-feet away from the base of the house.
• Consider a French drain system. We especially recommend this if your home is located on the downward portion of a slope that makes it susceptible to pooling water.

We Correct Pier and Beam Issues

Contact Align Foundation Repair if you notice any of the symptoms above. Pier and Beam foundation problems require immediate remediation. Letting the problem exacerbate can result in greater damage to the home.

Foundation Repair Industries Served

Whether residential or commercial, all buildings require periodic inspection to determine the condition of the foundation. We serve multiple industries across the Dallas, TX, area regardless of foundation type.

Industries we service:

Single Family Rental and Rehab 

  • We work with investors who own anywhere from one house to 1000
  • Special pricing available
  • We understand how investment properties work and have ongoing relationships with well over 200 investors in the DFW area

Multifamily Investing 

  • We have experience working with owners of one complex, as well as owners that have large portfolios
  • We provide a very in-depth inspection, so the ownership can feel comfortable they are covering their concerns properly
  • Concrete raising at apartments – save thousands as opposed to concrete grinding and replacement

Realtors 

  • We have built strong, long-lasting relationships with many realtors in DFW
  • Fast inspections times
  • Members of North Texas Association of Realtors (have Supra Access)

Homeowners 

  • Very in-depth inspection
  • Professional on time inspectors
  • Clean crews in company trucks

Homeowners

Our primary clients make up of residential homeowners in the Dallas and greater area. This includes owners of single to multi-floor homes, condos, town houses, properties part of a homeowner’s association, etc. We conduct a comprehensive inspection and report our findings to the homeowner without using complex industry jargon. Inspections are noninvasive with minimal disruption to the homeowner and adjacent neighbors. Proactive home repair ensures dwellings are on par with local ordinance.

Government-Owned Property

This includes state-level buildings, such as schools, hospitals, city halls, etc. Foundation inspections are vital to ensure these facilities are safe to occupy for the public and employees. We regularly inspect facilities owned and operated by state government. As they are the entity that establishes building code protocol, they have to ensure their own facilities are up to standards.

Realtors

We regularly work with real estate agents. Some are regular clients of ours, and they have come to trust us for our timely and trustworthy inspections. Several of the agents we serve include members of the North Texas Association of Realtors. Inspections ensure homes are in sellable condition and that homeowners sell their property at the maximum possible value. We perform DFW foundation repairs at the behest of realtors, brokers, and valuators to ensure the property is ready for the market.

Investors

We serve numerous investors, house flippers, etc. We cover multiple foundation repair service areas. We have established relationships with Dallas-based investors that invest in upwards of 1,000+ homes. This category also includes landlords who operate multiple apartment complexes and multi-housing communities. We perform concrete raising on apartments and provide a safe living environment for the hundreds of tenants that reside in renting accommodations. At present, we have established working relationships with over 200 property investors and their staff.

Our Client Profile Is Diverse

As you can see, the DFW foundation repair industries we serve are far-reaching and go well beyond homeowners and business owners. Regardless of which industry or category you fall under, call Align Foundation Repair if you require a foundation inspection. Periodic surveying ensures the foundation is up to building code.

Concrete Grinding vs Leveling: Which Is Superior?

Concrete leveling is a commonplace method for repairing a driveway or sidewalk. The procedure may entail one of two techniques: concrete grinding or leveling. What are the differences between concrete grinding and leveling? Each of these methods have their respective advantages, and an evaluation from a professional at Align Foundation Repair will determine which method is appropriate for a residential or commercial job.

Concrete Grinding

Concrete grinding is exactly what its name suggests. A tool is used to grind the concrete surface. This removes the rough outer portion, revealing a smooth surface. Concrete grinding is mainly a cosmetic procedure and is commonly used in areas like home driveways, public sidewalks, and warehouse floors. Concrete grinding is also used when home or business owners wish to install hardwood or tile over the concrete. Concrete grinding in this instance is often a pre-installation requirement to ensure a flat surface.

Other applications for concrete grinding include:

  • Restoration of spalled areas
  • Restoring surfaces too rough for bare feet
  • Removal of old paint, adhesives, and mastics

So, how do you grind material as hard as concrete? Modern grinding equipment include synthetic diamond tools. Depending on the type of concrete, the diamond is sorted according to grit and mesh for producing the desired results.

Leveling

Leveling is also known as mudjacking. The method is employed to raise a concrete that is uneven or settling to the bottom. In the procedure, polyurethane is pumped into the area below the concrete to fill any voids and gaps. In lieu of polyurethane, the process may also include using a slurry mixture of soil, water, and cement.

Regardless of filler type, once the mixture cures and hardens, it raises the concrete so it’s even and flush with the surrounding surface. The process is non-invasive; contrary to popular belief, it does not involve digging up the concrete. The polyurethane or cement mixture filler is injected below the concrete via a drilled hole about one-inch in diameter.

The entire process can be completed in a matter of hours. The hole for pumping the polyurethane is also patched upon completion and completely unnoticeable. Leveling is a common procedure in the Dallas Fort-Worth area due to the porous soil conditions.

We Restore Sinking Concrete

So, concrete grindings vs leveling: which is right for your foundation repair? Call Align Foundation Repair for an inspection. After an initial evaluation, a technician will recommend the best method for your residential or commercial needs. Leveled concrete is integral from both a functional and cosmetic standpoint. No need to debate over which method to use — let a qualified professional from Align Foundation Repair make the determination as part of your free estimate.

Concrete Raising vs. Concrete Replacement

Many homeowners are under the assumption that concrete, due to its rock-hard composition, can last a lifetime. In some instances, this is true. Unfortunately, this is often not the case for concrete driveways and walkways in the Dallas Fort Worth area. The concrete is vulnerable to damage due to the ever-shifting soil conditions beneath. The good news is that solutions are readily available, namely in the form of concrete raising and concrete replacement.

Concrete Raising

Concrete raising goes by other names, such as concrete leveling, slab jacking, and mud jacking. Often, the concrete itself is undamaged and simply settling to the bottom due to expanding and shifting soil. It is not necessary to replace an otherwise good slab of existing concrete. Rather, a cost-effective procedure is to raise the concrete back to its original position.

With concrete raising, a small hole approximately one-inch in diameter is drilled into the slab. A pump is inserted into the hole where some type of filler – usually polyurethane or cement mixture – is pumped into the ground below the concrete. This fills in the gaps underneath; once the filler hardens, this effectively raises the slab so it’s back in alignment with the surrounding concrete.

Concrete Replacement

Concrete replacement may be the only recourse if the concrete sustained damage beyond repair. Typically, a technician will recommend a replacement if there is more than one crack per slab. At this point, the concrete’s structural integrity is severely compromised and may not be able to safely support a foundation or additional weight.

A replacement may also be in order if the concrete has settled more than eight inches beneath ground level. At this stage, the void beneath the slab is too great for slab jacking to restore. If the damage is due to tree root intrusion, then the solution usually also requires concrete replacement.

While a replacement is more expensive than simply raising the concrete, this may be the sole option if the damage or settlement is beyond restoration.

We Raise and Replace Concrete

When it comes to concrete raising vs concrete replacement,  it is not about which method is better, but which is more appropriate to your particular foundation problem. If you see signs of settling or cracks in concrete, then call Align Foundation Repair for an evaluation. As part of your free estimate, we will determine which method is the most cost-effective and best for the given situation.

Should I Repair or Replace My Concrete Walkway?

Your concrete walkway may settle. The process is gradual, but the concrete will eventually settle to the point where it becomes a visual distraction and even a trip hazard. This leads to the question: should I repair or replace the concrete? This is a legitimate question for North Texas homeowners as concrete settlement is all too commonplace in this region.

Repair Methods

In most instances, the concrete itself is hardly damaged and simply settling to the bottom. An expensive concrete replacement is not necessary; raising the concrete walkway is the far more sensible solution. The process of raising concrete is known as mud-jacking. It also goes by other names, such as slab-jacking and concrete leveling.

The process is quite simple. A slurry mixture of cement, clay and sand, or a similar solution is injected into the soil beneath the foundation. When the mixture hardens (usually within two hours), it fortifies the soil by filling in the gaps and air pockets that lead to the settling. This raises the concrete, so it’s flush with the surrounding driveway.

Unless damage to the concrete is significant, mud-jacking is a great option. It’s a cost-effective solution due to the non-invasive nature of the process. It can be completed within a single visit and does not require half the yard to be exhumed or existing concrete to be demolished. The cost is about half of the expense of a concrete replacement.

When Is Replacement Necessary?

There are scenarios where a complete replacement is the only option. Such may be the case when:

  • The concrete slab is broken into many pieces
  • The concrete has deteriorated

The above scenarios, however, can almost always be avoided by calling a professional the minute you recognize the concrete has slightly sunk or sloped at an uneven angle. As long as you don’t wait until the last minute (when the concrete splits or sinks to extreme depths), repair will always be the more feasible option.

Raise Your Settling Concrete Walkway

Do you need to level a concrete walkway? This is where Align Foundation Repair comes in. Give us a call; with just one visit to your home, we can raise the concrete to its original position. Do not let the problem linger, as the concrete will only settle further until damage requires a far more expensive and labor-intensive replacement. Call us today for a free in-person evaluation of your foundation and complimentary estimate!

Pro Tips to Take Care of Your Home Foundation in the Summer

Though out of sight, the foundation is what maintains your home’s structural integrity. However, it is not immune to the passage of time. Over the years, many hot summers contribute to the gradual wear and tear. This makes foundation protection all the more critical for ensuring longevity.

The Implications of Summer Heat on Residential Foundations

The North Texas regions are known for blistering hot and dry summers. This is often accompanied by extended periods of drought. This dries the soil, causing the foundation to settle and ultimately develop cracks and splits. Once the summer ends and rainfall begin in the ensuing seasons, the water makes its way inside the cracks and finds its way in your home.
We suggest Texas homeowners follow these summer foundation maintenance tips outlined below to offset preventable damage.

Water the Foundation

The first care tip is to water the soil around the foundation during periods of dry weather. This sounds unusual, especially since puddling water around the foundation can cause long-term damage. However, during hot summers, watering the soil helps it maintain moisture. Use an automatic sprinkler or soaker hose. Begin doing this at the onset of dry conditions without regular rain. This prevents the soil from drying and cracking but doesn’t cause it to become too damp or muddy.

Drainage

Balance is the key; the soil should be neither too wet or too dry. Prevent water from pooling around the home’s perimeter. Be sure gutter spouts point at least five feet away from the perimeter. The property grounds should also be slightly sloped, so water drips away from the home. Consult with Align Foundation Repair for the installation of a French drain.

Mulch the soil

Provide ample mulch over the soil. Mulch shields the soil from heat and helps it retain its moisture. We suggest using natural mulch, such as pine and wood or bark chips. The mulch should be two to four inches thick and not touch the home directly.

Landscaping

Trees and shrubs have extensive roots that suck water from the soil. If you plan on planting additional trees or shrubs, plant them several feet from the home. Also, consider drought resistant shrubs.

We Care for Your Home Foundation Year-Round

Beyond basic care on your end, be sure to contact Align Foundation Repair for a more robust inspection and repair services if need be. Knowing how to care for your home foundation is essential for the long-term stability and resale value of your house. Call us today for a free evaluation of your foundation’s integrity and repair estimate.

Why You Have to Take Care of Your Foundation When the Soil Is Drying Up

A home’s foundation rests on the soil. In this regard, the soil can be thought of as the foundation for the foundation. This is why soil condition is so important. This is especially so in the North Texas region where frequent drought and hot weather can contribute to dry soil. In turn, this causes all sorts of structural issues.

The Problem with Dry Soil

Dry soil foundation problems are commonplace throughout most of the southern portion of North America. When the soil dries up, it shrinks. As the soil shrinks, the foundation settles. Eventually, as the rain increases, the soil expands. This yearlong cycle of shrinking and expansion causes the soil to “heave.” The foundation will move along with the soil; the movement causes movement in the foundation. This issue is especially common in the North Texas region, where the heavy clay and loam-based soil are prone to moisture loss, particularly during the peak summer months.

Keep in mind that changes in soil conditions are natural and to be expected with changes in the season. However, the soil should always maintain some level of moisture content. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen naturally, which is why some care on the homeowner’s end may be necessary.

How to Care for Your Foundation

Doing foundation care for dry soil is not complicated but does require diligent attention.

Another form of prevention is drip irrigation. Drip irrigation can be installed by a licensed irrigator. Alternatively you can deploy soaker hoses. Contact Align for instructions to set up soaker hoses.

Don’t Eschew Professional Care

Even with stringent care on the homeowner’s part, regular professional inspection is still a must. Call Align Foundation Repair for a thorough evaluation of your foundation. We can detect early signs of foundation damage and take preventive action before the problem exacerbates. We can recommend repair services if the issue is serious enough to warrant remediation. Call today for a free inspection and estimate!

Should I Level or Replace My Concrete Driveway?

Many homeowners overlook cracked or visibly damaged concrete as nothing more than an eyesore. However, aside from being visually displeasing, the damage or settling can be a trip hazard, not to mention a sign of poor soil conditions beneath. This leaves you with two options. Should you level the concrete or replace it entirely?

Concrete Leveling

Concrete settles due to low soil compaction, which leads to voids within the soil. This arises because of changing weather, which can shift rather abruptly in the Dallas Fort-Worth area. It may also arise from the soil not being properly filled and compacted during the concrete slab’s initial installation.

Concrete leveling is a procedure that fills the void in the soil. This raises the concrete back to its original position and stabilizes it from future settlement or uneven sloping.

To level a concrete driveway, a technician drills a small hole into the concrete slab and pressure-injects a cement slurry or other mixture into the soil. Once the solution cures, it creates a firm and stable surface that prevents future sinking or sloping. The entire process takes no more than a day.

Concrete Replacement

Concrete replacement is the other option. With this method, the entire section of the slab is removed and replaced. While certainly a feasible option, this is often the far more expensive solution due to the additional time, labor, and materials involved. It’s also more invasive as the entire replacement section needs to be cordoned off and exhumed.

Concrete Leveling vs Replacement

There are certainly some instances when replacement is the necessary option. This may be the case if a crack extends from one section of the slab to the other or there is extensive spalling. Another scenario is if there is significant damage due to excessive tree root intrusion.

However, the majority of concrete repairs can be completed via leveling. Plus, concrete leveling leaves a smaller carbon footprint since it requires less machinery and material disposal.

Find the Best Method for Concrete Restoration

Typically, raising a concrete driveway is often the go-to solution because it is simpler and more affordable. Contact Align Foundation Repair for a free evaluation and estimate. Upon an initial inspection, our knowledgeable technician can help you determine the appropriate course of action.

What Causes Concrete Driveways to Sink?

Over the years, the concrete in your driveway may begin to crack, settle, or slope unevenly. It is without a doubt a major eyesore, not to mention a trip hazard. What causes a sinking concrete driveway and is there anything a homeowner can do to remedy the situation? In nearly every case, the cause has to do with the soil directly beneath.

Soil Washout

The Dallas Fort Worth area is no stranger to occasional torrential rainfall. During rain or when water pools over the concrete, some of it may make its way into the soil. It’s also possible that a leaky plumbing pipe can lead to water intrusion. The water washes away and erodes the soil that supports the concrete’s weight. As the soil diminishes over time from repeated cycles of water intrusion, it begins to loosen. In turn, the concrete slab settles or slopes as its support structure loses its integrity.

Poor Soil Compaction

The soil quality during the concrete’s initial installation matters a great deal. The installer typically fills the soil to ensure proper compaction before pouring in the cement. However, the installer may fail to properly fill the soil. New concrete poured over soil that’s loose to begin with will result in concrete settlement in just a few short years.

Burrowing Pests

The Dallas-Fort Worth region is home to various native wildlife. Many are considered pests; one way they cause damage to property is by burrowing holes around residential zones. The tunnels they create may lead directly to the soil beneath the driveway. This displaces the soil, leaving less to support the concrete. The tunnels may also create just enough of an opening for water to seep in.

Weather Changes

The shifting dry and wet cycles affect soil conditions. The Dallas region is known for heavily clay-based soil. When clay gets wet, it holds the water and expands. When the water dries out, it shrinks. The constant contraction and expansion cause the slab to shift around. The subtle movement is enough to cause cracks to form over time.

Leave Concrete Repairs to Us

As we have pointed out, problems with underlying soil are the most likely causes of a sinking concrete driveway. Merely restoring the concrete slab and sealing cracks is a band-aid solution. For a permanent fix, call Align Foundation Repair. We can examine the source of concrete settlement and implement concrete leveling to restore the soil’s integrity.