Foundation Repair Tips

Pier and Beam Foundation Tips

One of the benefits of a beam foundation is that it’s easier to maintain than the common slab concrete foundation. Homeowners in the Garland, TX, area should take care to maintain their foundation for maximum longevity. Soil conditions in the area make foundation damage quite likely if you don’t take good care of this all-important structure.

Pier and Beam Foundation Maintenance Guidelines

The most critical step is maintaining a robust drainage system. When water is allowed to pool around the home, moisture seeps under the foundation, which leads to concrete warping and contraction. Too much moisture accumulation also leads to decay in wooden beams and joists.

The Texas region has heavy clay soils, which is prone to swelling when wet and shrinking when dry. This results in constant contraction that causes the foundation to heave up and down in rhythm with the seasons.

During dry seasons, water the soil. Aside from keeping the grass green, this will also keep the soil from drying out and shrinking. Be careful, though, not to water too close to the perimeter of the house. Water the soil starting from 18-inches from the base of the home.

Additionally, check your gutters and be sure the downspout directs the water at least five-feet away from the foundation perimeter.

Conduct Periodic Foundation Checks

Perform a visual inspection every six months. Examine for cracks in the walls and ceiling in every room. Check that all doors and windows open and close properly. By the time these defects are apparent, you already have significant foundation damage. It’s best to bring in an inspector to catch early signs of damage that is undetectable by non-trained professionals. This is especially important after a flood or heavy storm with a lot of water runoff.

We Inspect and Restore Pier and Beam Foundations

We hope you find these pier and beam foundation tips practical and easy to implement. For professional inspections, contact Align Foundation Repair. Pier and beam foundations are not uncommon in the Garland region, and we inspect, repair, and restore them on a regular basis.

Diagram of spread footing concrete piers

Spread Footing Vs. Grade Beam

There are multiple foundation types. Those outside the industry hear the different terms and treat them interchangeably for the sake of simplicity. However, foundation types have different names because they support structures in different ways. Two of the more commonplace foundations are grade beam and spread footing. Learn how they differ in application.

What Is a Spread Footing?

As the name implies, spread footing evenly spreads the weight of a structure across the soil using a combination of walls, columns, and lateral loads. In contrast to a more standard load-bearing foundation, a spread footing has a wider base for providing greater weight distribution and stability.

Whereas a spot footing only has a single point of contact with the foundation, spread footings spread the support across the entire structure’s layout. Think of the footing as an inverted table, where the table surface is the “spreader” that distributes the support. You can also imagine the footing as an inverted T; some also refer to it as a T footing.

Spread footings are constructed from concrete and/or reinforced steel with minimal risk of failure.

What Is a Grade Beam?

Grade beams serve two purposes: it acts as a beam that carries the foundation load while simultaneously bracing the foundation. Unlike a spread footing, which primarily supports the foundation via latitudinal reinforcement, grade beams utilize longitudinal reinforcement for the bulk of its weight-supporting bearing. The beams essentially act as connectors between footings and pile caps. The footings, meanwhile, transfer the building’s load to deeper parts of the soil or to the bearing points.

Spread Footing Vs Grade Beams: Which Is Better?

The better of the two depends on ground conditions. Spread footings are usually recommended for shallow foundations where the bulk of the footing rests directly on or near the soil surface. The footing also surpasses the building’s perimeter by several inches.

An installer may recommend a grade beam when the building requires a post or pier foundation that extends deep into the soil. The beams usually rest on its own pilings for support though it may also rest on the soil.

We Install Both Foundation Support Types

Spread footing vs grade beam? It all depends on the conditions. Each has their place; both are also commonplace for residential and commercial buildings in the Garland, Texas, area. Contact Align Foundation Repair for an inspection. An initial assessment will determine which is best for your location.

Drilled Pier for Home Foundation

Pier and Beam Vs. Slab Foundation

Among homeowners, there appears to be a lot of uncertainty regarding pier and beam vs slab foundation. Since they’re all forms of foundations, people tend to treat the terms as interchangeable. The two actually have very little in common aside from both being building foundations. Learn how they differ structure-wise.

What Is a Pier and Beam Foundation?

Many Northern Texas homes built in the 1960s and prior have pier and beam foundations. Visualize a stilt house, or google it to see an image. This is essentially a pier and beam foundation. Of course, most homes are not built that high off the floor, but the stilts, or piers, are located under the soil. The beams are installed from pier to pier for stability.

The average house with pier and beam foundation is about 18-inches off the floor. This is evident by the crawlspace underneath. The space is usually reserved for the plumbing and piping.

What Is a Slab Foundation?

Slab foundations are just that, a concrete slab for homes and other structures constructed on a flat lot. The process, though, isn’t as simple as merely pouring concrete over the floor. It’s actually a complex process that includes placing gravel in the slab interior, using plastic sheeting to prevent moisture buildup, and much more. Reinforcement cables are also used to support the slab. When damage to the slab is detected, repairs are done by reinforcing the slab with concrete or steel pilings.

Which Is Better?

The debate of slab vs pier and beam foundation comes down to circumstances. As with most forms of construction, each method has its respective pros and cons. An installer will choose one or the other depending on various factors, such as building size and shape, soil conditions, etc. Due to diverse environments in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, even buildings within the same vicinity may have completely different foundations.

We Install, Repair, and Restore Foundations

Contact Align Foundation Repair for an assessment of your home or commercial foundation. We will formulate a remediation plan that restores the foundation so it’s on par with modern safety standards.

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 pier and beam 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. Get a free estimate on pier and beam foundation repair from the experts at Align Foundation Repair before it gets worse.