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04/09/2021

The Five Steps to Push Pier Foundation Repair

Push Pier foundation repair is a pier-ceivably complicated form of underpinning. In this article, we are going to hit the 5 primary steps: 

  1. Inspection
  2. Prep work
  3. Installation
  4. Lift/Stabilization
  5. Final Walkthrough 

Push Pier Installation (Dalinghaus) -1

Inspection

Foundation inspections are the primary principal component when it comes to effectual foundation repair.

Locate Signs and Characteristics

An exhaustive foundation analysis entails heavy scrutiny of the home’s sheetrock, floorboards, chimney, stucco/exterior siding, and the footing/foundation itself, whether it be:

  •   Slab on grade
  •   Post Tensioned
  •   Raised

o   Cripple Wall

o   Post & Pad

  •   Basement

This comprehensive investigation identifies the areas affected by foundation settlement or foundation heave by pinpointing the indicatory signs and symptoms of foundation failure:

Foundation settlement sinks a house.

Foundation heave lifts a house. 

E x p a n s i v e S o i l actuates both scenarios. 

Both foundation heave and settlement exert tremendous pressure on a home’s foundation.

This energy transfers up through the foundation, into the wooden skeleton of the home, and outward – manifesting as external visual/tactile indicia.

The careful examination of these signs helps the foundation repair specialist to locate the affected area and determine the scope of the damage.

Floor elevation measurements are taken in conjunction with diagnosing the empirical cues of foundation failure.

Foundation issues are often manifested by significant differences in floor elevation measurements, which are taken throughout the house/structure.

As a quick recap, foundation repair specialists inspect:

  •   The interior of the home
  •   The exterior of the home
  •   The home’s foundation (meaning they need to crawl into the crawl space if applicable)

Some cities require the foundation repair specialist to inspect the attic to look for separation between the beams precipitated by uneven foundation settlement, but this is very rare.

Gas, electric, and water lines are located (often through Digalert or Arizona 811) before shovels hit the dirt to ensure the amenities remain safe and secure.       

To learn more read How Long Does a Foundation Inspection Take and What Can Add Time

Foundation Repair Plan & Proposal

Once the affected area has been located and the extension of damage established, the foundation repair plan can be drawn up.

Foundation repair plans should always include:

  •   Measurements (Floor Elevations, Walker Wheel & Laser Tape measurements)
  •   A to-scale CAD drawing  

It is concerning if full measurements and the detailed CAD drawing are not provided to the homeowner.

Numerous households are swindled into purchasing foundation repair jobs with an unnecessary, redundant scope – installing piers in locations not even affected by heave or settlement.  

Companies utilize terms such as fix and protect as a gimmick to push their “preventative maintenance” line items.    

It is imperative for homeowners to ensure:

  1. They are only paying for repairs on sections of the foundation that require repairs
  2. They are not shelling out money for “preventative maintenance”

After the homeowner has received the foundation repair plan, a proposal is issued. Proposals encompass:

  •   Estimated Cost of Repair (at Dalinghaus, this averages out to about $24,000 per project with thousands of repair projects under our belt)
  •   Permits (can take 4 to 6 weeks to receive)
  •   Repair Overview

Before any signature inks across the bottom line, it is acutely imperative to hire a foundation repair professional who is licensed, bonded, and insured; for the homeowner’s safety and the safety of their home.

*Note – It’s not always best to go with the cheapest bid. Some contractors will purposefully undercut bids in order to win business, knowing full well they will recoup this loss via change orders.

Push-Pier-and-Bracket-Straight-On (Dalinghaus) Push-Pier-Starter-and-Bracket-Side-View (Dalinghaus)

Push Pier Foundation Repair Prep Work

After the proposal has been signed and the germane permitting has been acquired, the foundation repair process can begin.

What is a Push Pier? 

A Push Pier is a steel pipe utilized in foundation repair that is hydraulically driven into competent, load-bearing soil and anchored to a foundation’s prepped footing via a remedial bracket to secure, stabilize and/or lift the structure.

Push Piers are:

  •    Comprised of galvanized steel to impede rust/oxidization
  •    Constructed with a maximum load capacity of 68 thousand pounds
  •   In sizes ranging from 2-7/8”, 3.5” and 4.5” (and are measured by the diameter of the pipe)
  •   Generally pushed down to a depth of 25 to 30 feet 
  •   Comprised of three main components: Remedial Bracket, Starter, & Extensions.

To learn more about Push Piers, read our articles What are Push Piers (Nicknames, Depth, & Size) and How Do Push Piers Work (Definition, Components, and Utilization).

Foundation Repair Prep Work Steps:

  1. Push Pier locations are demarcated via painter’s tape positioned every 6 feet
  1. 3x3 foot excavations are dug to access the foundation’s footing (Concrete R&R is conducted if necessary) 

  2. The exposed footing is demo-hammered down, manicured to a smooth/flat surface capable of housing the remedial bracket

For step 1, it is critical that the piers balance out the incredible load of a home, which can range anywhere between 80,000 pounds to 160,000 pounds.

*Note - Single-story houses are often too light to utilize push piers because push pier installation inherently relies on the home’s weight. Sometimes, the home will lift well before the push piers reach competent load-bearing soil. So, with single-story homes, helical piers are utilized.    

Placing piers six feet apart ultimately results in each location holding an average of 10,200 pounds.

For steps 2 through 3, the excavations (generally 18 to 24 inches deep) are dug to reach a few inches below the footing, which allows for plenty of room to jackhammer the footing down so that the remedial bracket can be placed and fit in a snug L fit.

Push Pier Installation

After the excavations are dug and the footing is properly chipped down for a tight fit, the remedial bracket is attached to the foundation’s footing.  

Once the remedial bracket is securely fastened to the manicured footing, the starter push pier (fit with a collar to reduce skin friction) can be hydraulically driven into the earth via a hydraulic ram.

Driving steel pipe to competent, load-bearing soil requires an incredible amount of PSI, which is amplified by the size of the ram head.

To learn more about the mathematical process of pier installation, read our article on why PSI does NOT equal loading value.  

A guide sleeve is utilized to ensure the piers go straight down and don’t veer off.  

Once all of the pier locations have been driven down to competent, load-bearing soil/bedrock, the home can be lifted to maximum practical recovery.

 Lift/Stabilization

Hydraulics are hooked up to the pier locations to push off the piers in unison, lifting the home back to MPR. While this is a bit of a lengthy process, it is a safe process.  

Lifting a home to maximum practical recovery can take 2-3 hours.

Here at Dalinghaus, we have a crew member inside of the home with a Ziplevel taking floor elevations throughout the entirety of the lift to ensure maximum practical recovery is attained. 

Phenomenon one can expect during a lift are:

  •   Cracked drywall closing back together
  •   Sloped floors even out   
  •   Slanted window and doorframes returning to square
  •   Doors are easier to open/close

All of the above are possible reactions if these cosmetic issues were not addressed prior to the lift. If there was a recent remodel/patch & paint before the lift, one can expect a little cosmetic corruption.  

The good news is, after the structure is stabilized/lifted, none of the repeating cosmetic offenders (such as cracked drywall) will require continuous repair. It’s now a one-and-done repair or remodel.  

Final Walkthrough

Subsequent to the structure’s lift and/or stabilization, a final walkthrough takes place. This walkthrough involves a cursory visual of the previously affected areas, with careful attention paid to:

  •   Previous stucco cracks
  •   Previous drywall cracks
  •   Previously sloped floors
  •   Chimneys (chimneys often have their own, mini foundation)

In addition to visual cues, floor elevation measurements are taken again to compare to the floor elevations during the initial foundation inspection.

Then, all that’s left to do is enjoy your home and the warranty. Many foundation repair contractors have a baseline warranty of 20 years.

Here at Dalinghaus, we think that’s pretty good, but we offer a lifetime warranty on all steel pier systems. And, no – that’s not the lifetime of the homeowner, that’s the lifetime of the structure.

Not sure you can afford push pier foundation repair? Check out our financing options: 

Determine Your Monthly Payments with Hearth 

Dalinghaus Foundation Repair  

If you reside in sunny Southern California and need a foundation repair, here is a list of the 5 Best Foundation Repair Companies in Southern California.

If you live in red-rocked Arizona, here is a list of the 5 Best Foundation Repair Companies in Central Arizona. 

And, if you live in either Southern California or Arizona and would like one of our Dalinghaus Foundation Specialists to inspect your foundation for FREE, click on the link below –

schedule free foundation evaluation

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