Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Typical Foundation Repair Using Steel Piers

Every foundation and every problem has its own characteristics. However, there are some basics that apply to nearly all foundation repair jobs. Below is a typical description of the practices Ace Foundation Repair uses.

To repair a foundation problem, the contractor installs underpinning piers under the perimeter beams and then mechanically raises the foundation and holds it in place.

Historically the type of piers used in foundation repair have been concrete piers drilled and poured in place. If these foundation piers are drilled to rock they are excellent. However, if they're not, they depend on the clay soil for support just as the foundation does.

Since a poured-in-place concrete pier gets its support by skin friction from the hole in which it is poured, it is prone to move as the soil moves and create more foundation problems.

In order to fix foundations problems with longer lasting results, a pier was needed that could bypass dependence on the soil as much as possible. This is how the steel pier came about. Whereas concrete piers are known as friction piers, steel piers are called point bearing piers.

Ace Foundation steel piers are specifically designed to penetrate clay soil and seat the point of each pier on rock or load bearing strata. Due to a unique feature of Ace Foundation's pier design, the clay soil is pushed away from the pipe as the steel pier is driven into the soil.

This feature of the steel pier prevents dependence on the soil, transfers the weight of the foundation to rock or load bearing strata, and provides a very stable support system for the foundation.

Get more information by visiting www.AceFoundation.com.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

"Can I See Drainage Problems?"

"Can I see drainage problems?"

This is a fairly common question. Drainage problems are one of the leading causes of foundation issues. So, identifying drainage problems early and correcting them can reduce or prevent foundation problems.

The answer to the question, Can I see drainage problems, is yes and no.

Yes, if it's a surface water problem. No, if it's an underground water problem. Ace Foundation can inspect, detect, repair, and prevent subsurface drainage problems. Get more information by visiting us at www.AceFoundation.com.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

10 Steps to Better Foundation Maintenace, Part II

Here's the second part of our ten tips for keeping your foundation happy. You can find the first 5 tips here.

  1. Make sure that the soil around your foundation is graded so that the water flows away from the building. The grade should drop 4 to 6 inches in 4 to 6 feet.
  2. Use soaker hoses around your foundation to keep the soil damp during dry periods. Learn more about soaker hoses and your foundation here.
  3. Trim most of the shrubs around your house so that they are 3 feet tall or shorter. Large plants need lots of water, which can cause foundation problems.
  4. Make sure that all paved surfaces (driveways, sidewalks, patios, pool decks, etc.) that slope away from your foundation.
  5. Check the soil around your foundation. It should be between 2 to 4 inches below the brick line or edge of your siding. Soil helps hold the water in the ground and reduces seasonal settlement.
Get more information by visiting www.AceFoundation.com.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

10 Steps to Better Foundation Maintenace, Part I

We're breaking this topic into 2 parts. Here's the first part.

  1. Check your sprinker system and swimming pool. Leaky sprinkler lines and pool circulating systems can cause foundation problems. It's a good idea to have your lines tested for leaks every two to three years.
  2. If you're lucky enough have large trees around your house, consider installing root barriers to keep the trees from pulling water out from under the foundation. This is especially important if the trees are closer to your foundation that the height of the trees.
  3. Avoid trapping water against the foundation. Water can be trapped against the building by raised flower beds, metal edging or other landscaping borders that do not have drainage holes, and sidewalks can prevent water from draining away from your foundation. If the water doesn't drain properly, it can pool or gather and cause uneven soil moisture and, ultimately foundation problems.
  4. If your sewers back up or become block, you should have them tested for leaks. Many sewer blockages are caused by tree roots. These roots either cause or have found openings in your sewer lines.
  5. Use downspout extensions or splash blocks on all down spouts. Downspout extensions are inexpensive and can be purchased at any home repair store (The Home Depot, Lowes Home Improvement, Ace Hardware, etc.).
Look for more tips this Thursday. And don't forget, there's always more information at www.AceFoundation.com.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

6 Things You Should Know Before Signing a Foundation Repair Contract

As with any other work on your home, foundation repair should always be done using a contract. A contract describes what is expected of the service provider, what your recourse is when things don't work out as planned, and what the repair work will cost and how long it will take.

Below are six things you should look for in a contract:
  1. Look for a complete description of the work to be done. This includes the number of foundation supports, the type of foundation supports, and additional services such as engineer's reports and permits..
  2. Be sure the project's total cost is explicitly defined and accounted for.
  3. Make sure you have a payment schedule. This way, there'll be no questions as to how much is due when.
  4. The warranty: This should be simple to understand and the same in nature as that which was presented to you initially.
  5. Make sure the contract describes who is responsible for removing debris and cleaning the site after the work is done.
  6. Ensure the contractor's full name, address, phone number, and other contact information is accurate and up-to-date.

Remember, never sign a blank contract, no matter what. Any reputable and professional company will have their paperwork ready and complete before you sign it. If changes must be made, they will amend the contract and present it to you again. Finally, keep a copy of the signed contract for your records.

Ace Foundation Repair always presents a complete and easy-to-understand contract to you and will walk you through it to make sure you understand anything.

Get more information by visiting www.AceFoundation.com.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Controlled Watering Can Save Your Foundation

The Texas summer has settled in and -- at least here in the DFW Metroplex -- we're seeing a drought.

Keep in mind that your home's foundation moves up and down as the soil's moisture content changes. As long as foundation movement isn't much and doesn't damage the house, this up and down movement isn't a problem.

Using a controlled watering program keeps the soil's moisture content constant, thereby minimizing your home's foundation movement.

The simplest and least expensive way to water the soil around and under your foundation is with common soaker hoses. You can bury a soaker hose three inches deep and six inches from the edge of your foundation. By placing the hose so close to the foundation, the water to soak into the soil evenly.

Do not place hose directly against the foundation. When soil is dried and cracked (like what we get during the summer here in Dallas-Fort Worth), water travels along the cracks. This can cause the water to accumulate at the bottom of the grade beam. This water can then can cause the soil to loose some of its load bearing capacity. This will produce its own foundation problems. So, again, do not place the hose directly against the foundation but, rather, a short distance (less than a foot) from the foundation.

Follow these watering tips and you can help protect your foundation.

Get more information by visiting www.AceFoundation.com.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

7 Signs That You May Have Foundation Problems

Foundation problems can show themselves in many ways. Below are seven common symptoms:

  • Doors stick or do not close all the way.
  • Gaps show between the garage door and the pavement (usually on one side of the garage door or the other).
  • Gaps appear at the corner of fascia trim.
  • Diagonal cracks in the wall at corners of doors and windows.
  • Windows stick or are otherwise difficult to open or close.
  • You can see cracks in the exposed grade beam of the house.
  • You find cracks in bricks and mortar.
If you see any of these things, you should contact a foundation repair professions. As always, get more information by visiting www.AceFoundation.com.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What is Epoxy Injection?

Epoxy Injection is for concrete what welding is for steel. Often when a foundation fails, large cracks develop and remain in the flooring or grade beams even after foundation underpinning. These cracks can remain as weak points and/or can allow moisture to seep into the living area.

We repair foundation cracks by injecting a high strength epoxy resin under high pressure into the crack and sealing it. The makers of the resin claim that once the epoxy resin dries, the foundation won't crack in the same place again.

Get more information by visiting www.AceFoundation.com.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What are Voidfilling and Mudjacking?


Mudjacking is an additional foundation repair technique used to fix sinking and shifts in flat concrete areas. The process uses pressurized mud rather than piers. The mud is typically comprised of sandy loam soil, water and some cement for stiffness. The mixture is pumped under the foundation through a hose until the void is filled and creates lift of the desired areas.

Ace Foundation recommends mudjacking only for flat concrete surfaces such as garage floors, driveways, pool and patio decks.

We do not recommend mudjacking for the lifting of structural load bearing foundations/surfaces for the following reasons: The performance depends on the soil beneath. The lifting process may break sewer pipes and quickly fill them with the mud, requiring expensive plumbing repairs. A uniform lift is very difficult due to the different weight and thickness of the slab.

Many foundation repair contractors, as well as structural engineers, like to use piers on the perimeter grade beams to repair failed foundations and to use mudjacking on foundations with interior failure such as sinking or sagging floors.

Mudjacking is a procedure which involves drilling two inch (2") diameter holes through the floor in the affected area, bringing in a hose, about the size of a firehose, with a nozzle that fits in the holes and pumping a thick mud grout under the floor. The grout is typically comprised of sandy loam soil, water and about twelve percent (12%) cement.

The grout is pumped under the foundation with several hundred pounds of pressure until all voids are filled and the back pressure lifts the foundation to where it needs to be.

Mudjacking has been successfully used to lift streets, porches, and driveways at a cost much lower than replacement, but Ace Foundation does not recommend the use of mudjacking on homes or buildings for several reasons.

One big reason we do not recommend mudjacking is that the process cannot be fully controlled by the contractor once the grout leaves the nozzle.

The grout always takes the path of least resistance, which means once it leaves the nozzle the grout can come up through bathtub, leaveouts, shallow areas of concrete flooring, etc. The main danger that the mudjacking process poses is to plumbing under the foundation. As the back pressure increases, the foundation begins to raise and the possibility of plumbing lines separating increases. The moment a sewer line breaks, the grout starts entering the line and the cement can set before a plumber can clean it out. Once the grout sets, the plumbing line has to be broken out and replaced.

Mudjacking also tends to be a temporary method of repair. In order for the grout to hold the foundation in position it depends on the soil beneath it to remain in place. If the soil moves due to loss of moisture then the grout will not be able to hold the load.

Ace Foundation installs STEEL INTERIOR PIERS and accomplishes all lifting with them. We then have a plumber test for leaks in the plumbing lines and the home owner has the opportunity to repair the leaks.

We then fill the void between the floor and the soil with the same process as mudjacking yet with pressure and grout that are safer for the plumbing. This approach allows Ace Foundation to control damage and to provide the home owner with a longer lasting repair.


If the lift of a foundation creates a void under the slab's interior, then we use a technique called voidfilling. Voidfilling is basically the same procedure as mudjacking but with some key differences.

  • We do not mix cement in our mud for voidfilling.
  • We only use light pressure to pump the mud into the void.
  • The foundation load is carried by our piers and not by the mud.
  • Mudjacking carries no warranty, but our steel piers do.
Get more information by visiting www.AceFoundation.com.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Questions to Ask Any Foundation Contractor

Before have a contractor perform foundation repair, you should ask the following questions.

  • Will the piers be installed to a minimum of 12 feet deep, unless they hit rock first? Will the foundation repair company put that in writing in the contract?
  • If they promise to go "to rock or refusal", can they tell you how deep it is to rock in your area?"
  • Will they put in the foundation repair contract that you and the company will not accept "refusal" that is reached at less than 12 feet deep?
  • How are the piers held together and reinforced?
  • What do other Independent Engineers think of their piers?

Get more information by visiting www.AceFoundation.com.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Videos, Videos, and more Videos!

We've prepared a handful of videos to explain common foundation problems and how Ace Foundation tackles them.

View the foundation repair videos here.

Get more information by visiting www.AceFoundation.com.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What is a French drain?

A French drain is a trench that is dug higher at one end and lined with filter cloth. Next, a perforated PVC pipe is placed in the trench and covered with gravel. This type of drain works very well for its first few years, but tends to be less effective after 5 years due to clogging.

The best French drains use superior drainage materials (never gravel!) that resist clogging and will provide more years of effective service.

Get more information by visiting our www.AceFoundation.com.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How do I maintain my foundation?

Following these common sense steps could save you thousands of dollars in foundation repairs.

During the rainy season: Check your drainage around your property. Wait until a hard solid rain (not just a sprinkle), then walk around your house and see if the runoff water is draining away from your foundation without standing or puddling.

If you see puddling that's a problem, the solution is a positive watershed. A positive water shed exists when the dirt is higher at the foundation and slopes away from the house at the minimum rate of one inch per foot and extends past the roofline. If your house has gutters, be sure they are free from obstructions and that the down spouts direct the water away from the house past the roof line.

Do not build a dam around your house with landscape timbers, concrete trim, sidewalks or metal trim, that will prevent proper drainage. Fixing a severe problem could include cutting a depression in the ground to direct the water or installing a drain system. Remember, too much water is just as bad as not watering in the dry season.

During the dry season: The ideal way to maintain a constant moisture level around your foundation is to use an automatic sprinkler system with a rain gauge cut off. You can also use a soaker hose positioned 18 inches from the foundation. Turn on the water until you see it form a standing puddle on the ground.

The expansion of the soil will provide uniform support for the foundation. Watering should be repeated when drying cracks are observed or when soil is clearly too dry. Do not put a hose in big cracks and try to water the foundation. This can cause additional damage. You may find that the south and east sides of the house will require more watering. Remember... the goal is moisture uniformity on all sides.

Trees and shrubs: As a rule of thumb, trees should be planted a distance equal to their mature height from the house. Trees planted too close to the house rob moisture from the soil, allowing the dirt to shrink causing foundation problems.

Get more information by visiting our website, www.AceFoundation.com.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What are the differences between the different foundation types?

Slab or Slab on Grade is a foundation that is one large piece of concrete reinforced with steel bars or cables. "On grade" simply means the structure is supported by the ground or grade.

A pier and beam foundation keeps the structure lifted off the ground or grade by using a tall perimeter concrete beam and a series of piers which support the floor constructed of wood.

A simple frame foundation is the oldest type of foundation and is similar to a Pier and Beam. A frame foundation does not use a concrete perimeter beam, but has supports around the perimeter that are covered by siding down to the ground.

Get more information by visiting our website, www.AceFoundation.com.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

All About Drainage Systems

Now that summer is upon us -- complete with sizzling temperatures and (for some of us) drought conditions -- enjoy this extra post.

Landscaping maintenance is important for the beauty of homes as most home owners spend great amounts of time and money on their landscaping.

However, proper drainage around the house is of greater importance than just beauty, especially in areas where homes are built over large stratas of clay soil. Clay soil is an expansive soil that shrinks or swells throughout the seasonal changes, thus causing foundation problems.

Root Barriers

The key ingredient which triggers the shrink/swell action is water. As clay soil loses water it shrinks and when it absorbs water it expands. While it is important to keep clay soil wet around your foundation during periods of little rainfall, it is just as important to keep excess water from ponding around your foundation during rainy seasons. If excess of water ponds around a foundation, clay soil will absorb it and expand. The more water there is around the foundation, the more the soil can expand. It is not uncommon for the soil to lift the area above normal grade. Thus, when a dry period sets in, the soil will shrink and allow the foundation to drop more than normal.

There are many things a home owner can do to correct surface drainage problems. The yard around your home should be graded to slope away from your foundation. This slope will drain water away from the house and, thus, the foundation. Once away from the house, the yard should be sloped to allow the water to drain toward the street or alley. Builders, landscapers and home owners often make changes to the landscape that prevent the runoff of excess water.

You need to inspect the landscape around your home for areas that trap water. The best time to do is immediately following rainfall. Look for flower and shrub beds which hold water and make the changes needed to allow the water to drain away.

Make sure your gutter downspouts discharge water away from the foundation rather than dumping it into a plant bed or next to the house. Sometimes all you need to do is extend the downspouts so they discharge at a safe place, and some houses would be better off without gutters.

Many drainage problems are not simple to solve,that is where Ace Foundation comes in.Some homes are built "in a hole" where all of the landscaping slopes toward the foundation. Some homes are built over old creeks, springs, or other underground drainage areas that are not visible, yet they cause damage to the foundation.

Ace Foundation has been fighting drainage problems for a long time, so if you can't engineer your own solution give us a call. We will perform a free on site inspection for you and if we think you can correct the problem yourself we will tell you.

Get more information by visiting www.AceFoundation.com.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How does the Helical steel pier work in different soil types?

The Helical steel pier is engineered for different soil types and speed of installation even through subsurface water.

Get more information by visiting our website, www.AceFoundation.com.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What is a sump pump?

The best way to discharge a drain system is by gravity, but some situations make that impossible.

In these cases, the water is collected in a hole with a collection basin called a sump and then it's pumped out to a desired location. The pump stays plugged in and has an automatic shutoff.

Get more information by visiting our website, www.AceFoundation.com.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Would I be able to see a drainage problem?

Yes, if it's a surface water problem. No, if it's an underground water problem. An experienced foundation repair company can inspect, detect, repair, and prevent subsurface drainage problems.

Get more information by visiting our website, www.AceFoundation.com.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

How deep should building foundation piers go?

Helical steel piers should go deep enough until they reach a layer of soil or rock that provides sufficient torque resistance to hold the building.

Get more information by visiting our website, www.AceFoundation.com.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How to Tell If You've Got Foundation Problems

Foundation problems can produce a variety of problems, including:

  • Cracked sheet rock and / or brick mortar
  • Doors that hang crooked in their frames
  • Locks and dead bolts that are hard to open and close
  • Cracks in ceramic tile
  • Floors with a noticeable slope
  • Your house making odd creaking sounds at night
Get more information by visiting www.AceFoundation.com.