Pier and post foundations have been popular for decades because they’re cost-efficient to build and provide easy access to the home’s plumbing and wiring for repairs. In this blog post, we’ll cover the basics of pier and post foundations, their pros and cons, common problems, possible repair solutions, and more.
What Is a Pier and Post Foundation?
A pier and post foundation (also called a pier and beam foundation) is a type of foundation that is often used for homes which are built on sloping areas or in regions with expansive soils that can shift or settle over time. This foundation is made up of a series of support piers spaced at regular intervals around the perimeter of the home. These piers are also topped with beams or posts, which support the structure’s weight.
What Are the Pros and Cons of a Pier and Post Foundation?
One of the primary benefits of a pier and post foundation is that it creates a crawl space under the home. This crawl space allows for easy access to the home’s plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems, along with providing a space for storage.
A pier and post foundation is also good at protecting a home from water damage. Because the house is raised off the ground, water is less likely to seep into the structure, thus reducing the risk of flooding and potential damage.
Additionally, if any plumbing or utility repairs need to be done, it is much easier to access the systems with a pier and post foundation than it is with other types of foundations. Finally, a pier and post foundation is often less expensive than full basement foundations and requires less excavation work.
One of the biggest risks that comes with a pier and post foundation is moisture damage. If the area beneath the house becomes damp, the moisture can seep into the wood and other materials of the structure, leading to rot, mold growth, and pest infestations. Proper moisture mitigation measures should be taken to address this issue.
Another potential disadvantage of a pier and post foundation is its susceptibility to pest infestations. Because these foundations provide an open area for animals and insects to enter, it is essential to implement strategies to keep them out. Proper sealing and pest control measures should be taken to prevent rodents, termites, and other pests from causing damage to the foundation and the home.
Common Problems With Pier and Post Foundations
One of the most common problems with pier and post foundations is settlement. This occurs when the soil underneath the foundation shifts, causing the piers or posts to sink unevenly. Over time, this can lead to cracks in the foundation, uneven floors, and other structural issues.
Another potential issue is the rotting or decay of the wooden posts. Pier and post foundations rely on wooden posts to support the structure above, and if these posts are exposed to moisture for extended periods, they may begin to rot or decay. This can weaken the foundation and compromise the structural integrity of the building.
Termites feed on wood, which is the primary material for pier and post foundations. If left unchecked, termites can cause significant damage to the foundation, making it unstable and unsafe.
To mitigate these potential problems, it is essential to maintain regular inspections and upkeep. This may include monitoring signs of settling, ensuring that the wooden posts are treated and protected from moisture, and conducting pest control measures. Consult with a professional foundation repair specialist if you notice any damage or instability in your foundation.
Repair Solutions for Pier and Post Foundations
The type of damage directly influences the appropriate repair solution. For instance: for differential settlement, underpinning is the go-to solution used to lift, level, and stabilize the foundation.
If hydrostatic pressure has caused the foundation wall to crack or bow inward, the repair solution may be carbon fiber straps to strengthen the wall and prevent further movement from happening. Another option may be the installation of permanent steel braces, known as wall anchors.
If the wooden support structures have deteriorated and are no longer vertical, the fix will be to replace them or install adjustable screw jacks.
A thorough foundation inspection is needed to determine the appropriate repair solution. It’s essential to bear in mind that fixing foundation damage should only be done by licensed foundation repair contractors.
For more information, see our article How Much Does Pier and Beam Foundation Repair Cost?
How to Keep Your Pier and Post Foundation Healthy
One of the most critical aspects of keeping a safe and stable foundation is proper maintenance. Here are some things you can do that will help prevent foundation issues. Note that most of these involve controlling groundwater around the foundation. This is because most foundation problems are caused by excess water in the soil around the foundation.
- Regrade your yard, if necessary – This involves slightly sloping the ground away from the house so that excess water doesn’t accumulate around the foundation, which can cause erosion and instability over time.
- Install downspout extensions – These extensions direct rainwater away from the house, thus preventing water accumulation around the foundation.
- Clean gutters regularly – Cleaning gutters regularly is also essential, as clogged gutters can lead to water overflowing and seeping into the foundation.
- Install a drain tile system – This involves installing a drainage channel around the home’s perimeter, which collects water and directs it away from the foundation. This prevents water from seeping into the foundation and causing damage.
- Keep trees away from the foundation – Some trees have root systems as large as their canopies. They can stretch out and penetrate the foundation, leading to cracks or other damage.
It’s important to remember that prevention is key to maintaining a strong foundation, as repairs can be costly and time-consuming.
If you have a concern about your pier and post foundation, contact us today to schedule a free evaluation. If we find a problem, we’ll provide you with a repair estimate. We serve Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada.