Push and Helical Pier Underpinning Vs Concrete Underpinning

When you have foundation issues, it’s reasonable for you to want to find an affordable method of repair. However, more affordable doesn’t equal effective. Sometimes cheap foundation repair offers cheaper results, especially with the various types of concrete underpinning. You need to know the different foundation repair methods before deciding on what to do. 

You want a foundation repair solution that ensures the integrity of your home. You want a foundation repair solution that will last your home for a lifetime. You want a foundation repair solution that’s right the first time. 

Dalinghaus Construction has inspected more than 10,000 homes, having repaired 2,000 homes and doing the repair correctly the first time with our push and helical pier underpinnings. Often we will fix many types of shallow concrete underpinning that previous “foundation repair” companies have installed. We know what methods don’t work because we’ve had to compensate for their lack of effectiveness.

Types of concrete underpinnings


These are essentially mini caissons pushed next to the footing of your home until it locks in. They’re installed under your concrete footing for support. However, this is a large chunk of concrete still in the “active zone,” or the area near the surface that is still affected by water and able to shift, causing foundation settlement or heave. 

Concrete or gravel pads with sacrificial jacks

Some companies will go under your footing to create a concrete or gravel pad. On the concrete pad will be what is called a “sacrificial jack.” The jack is the part attached to your footing to support the weight your home exerts. Well, it’s supposed to. But nothing is happening. The jacks are still in the active zone.

New footings with sacrificial jacks

Sometimes homes are constructed with ineffective footings, or they have deteriorated. The footing is ripped out and replaced with sacrificial jacks every couple of feet.

Sister footing

A footing is attached to the existing one to hold up the home. This often accelerates the sinking. 

If the footing isn’t supported by anything, the weight of the sister footing will accelerate foundation settlement.

These methods don’t work

This isn’t to say they’re impossible to make work. The problem is if they’re still in the “active zone.” And concrete is heavier than the galvanized push pier and helical pier system used to lift or stabilize the home. 

There isn’t a guarantee that these alternatives will further sink your home. But installing these only in unstable soil won’t help you; it will hurt you.

But people install these alternatives, anyway.  They’re incredibly cheap, but sometimes you get the results you pay for. And sometimes the cheaper products are more faulty or create more damage than you want.

But let’s say you have competent soil six feet under your home. These alternatives can work so long as they’re in competent soil. Anything above it is a waste of an investment for you. You’d be deploying an anchor to a sinking ship adds more weight and accelerates the process.

None of this is to say anything involving concrete doesn’t work. If they’re made and applied correctly at the proper depth, they can do the job just fine. However, the more shallow and away from competent soil, the less effective. They’re pointless if they aren’t touching competent soil or bedrock.

 If they aren’t touching, your home can still be affected by movement.

Dalinghaus Construction has had to fix these types of concrete underpinnings other companies installed

Many times. Many, many times.

We recently had a project where caissons were installed at 28 feet by another company for a settling pool. The pool was still settling since the concrete underpinning didn’t reach competent soil. Our pier systems reached the bedrock, which was actually at 35 feet. At least our installation made sure that the pool never sinks again. 

And if there’s anything we don’t want you to endure, it’s a repair that does nothing the first time. We don’t want you to spend extra money because someone didn’t do the job correctly the first time. 

We want you to know how this works. That way you can make sure a company does the job correctly the first (and hopefully the last) time.

This isn’t to say concrete underpinnings are generally bad 

There are effective concrete underpinning methods used today.

Deep Caissons

A Cassion is a deepened concrete cylinder dug down to bedrock or competent soil to hold up a structure. A hole is dug first and filled with concrete and rebar. You’ll find these typically on cliffside homes for lateral and vertical support.

These babies go deep into the ground to prevent a structure from moving. This is something you could do for your foundation repair, but they’re pricy. 

The galvanized steel push pier and helical pier method Dalinghaus Construction, and many other companies, use for foundation repair is half the cost and just as effective. So if you wanted to do a caisson repair project that cost $200,000, we could do it at half that price to get the same results. 

They can be designed for any type of load, are cheaper, quicker to install, less messy than concrete caissons, and don’t need venti-sized equipment to install.

Our average cost for foundation repair is around $30kDepending on the extent of the foundation settlement and damage, prices can range between $5K and over $100k

Push pier and helical pier underpinning works

This is regardless of any foundation repair company you choose, whether you go with Dalinghaus Construction or any of our competitors. The push and helical piers work well when they’re put in properly.

This all said, get multiple bids and compare companies to determine which company best fits YOU.

With push/helical pier underpinning, there is significantly less destruction of property. You don’t need to worry about the excess weight of added concrete unnecessarily being an anchor to your home.

Both types of piers are installed at proper depths. Push piers are hydraulically pushed into the ground to bedrock to stop foundation settlement. Helical piers have helices that screw into competent soil to prevent foundation settlement. The intense amount of torque prevents movement.  

Think of push piers like a nail and helical piers like a screw. 

You can use both helical and push piers for one project. Regardless, they both do the same job so your home no longer moves. The idea is if you were to remove the active zone under your house, your house isn’t affected since the piers are in either bedrock or compact soil. They should be able to do the job since each type can easily handle 60k pounds. 

You now know of the different underpinning methods. How will you move forward?

The push and helical pier underpinnings are the better way to go for your foundation repair. Shallow concrete underpinnings don’t do anything to help you. Deep underpinnings using concrete are effective, but they do cost a lot. If you can afford it, go for it. 

But if you’re looking forward to something more affordable and incredibly effective, look to have your foundation repaired with push/helical pier installation. It works!

And again, you don’t have to choose Dalinghaus Construction. Seek out multiple bids to compare and contrast companies. See which company is the best fit for YOU. 

But you do need somewhere to start. Schedule a FREE foundation evaluation with Dalinghaus construction. Seriously, we don’t charge a single cent to have one of our foundation inspectors come out to your property to look for any problems. All we ask for is 60-90 minutes of your time. 

You can call (877) 360-9227, or click the button below to book your free evaluation today!


Brian Dalinghaus

Brian is one of the Co-Founders of Dalinghaus Construction. He has been in the foundation repair industry since 2005. During his career, he has been associated with helping over 4,000 homes and structures throughout California and Arizona.

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