Saturday, August 28, 2010

What Are Pressed Concrete Piers?

Many foundation repair contractors used pressed concrete piers. Pressed concrete piers are concrete cylinders that are driven to refusal in clay soil. (In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, "refusal" normally occurs around eight to fifteen feet deep and depending on the weight of the foundation and the soil moisture.)

Why are pressed concrete piers popular with so many foundation repair companies? Pressed piers are usually require less materials and less labor, thus reducing the cost of the job. Other reasons a contractor may suggest pressed concrete piers include:

  • The equipment used to install pressed concrete piers is about one-fourth to one-fifth the cost of the equipment used for steel piers. (Viewed another way, it means that someone can get into the foundation repair business way cheaper when all they offer is pressed piers.)
  • Along those same lines, most foundation repair contractors don't have a workshop capable of making steel pier brackets or cutting sections of high carbon tubular steel.
  • And, finally, it's much easier for "ethically challenged" contractors can take short cuts when working with pressed concrete pilings, thus reducing the amount of time they spend on a job and the cost to themselves.

Here at Ace Foundation, we typically eschew pressed concrete piers and recommend either traditional steel piers or helical steel piers. We just feel that steel piers provide an overall better solution for foundation failures.

Do you have a question about pressed concrete piers? Then ask us! We'll be happy to answer your question and share the answer with others. Get even more information by visiting

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Vetting a Foundation Repair Company

Foundation repair intimidates a lot of homeowners. It's not well understood by most people, it's not glamorous or showy (like getting a new hardwood floor), it's expensive, and there's a lot of less-than-qualified foundation repair businesses out there.

However, choosing a reliable and experienced foundation repair company is just like choosing other home maintenance and repair professionals. You simply do your homework, interview several businesses, and cover your butt. Below are specific steps you can take to make find a good foundation repair company.

Check out the company's website.

Why start with the foundation repair company's website? Because it'll contain clues about the work they do, who they are, and how reliable they might be. Look for the following on their website:

  • How long have they been in the foundation repair business? Look for a company that has several years experience. After all, you don't want to be someone's learning experience, do you?
  • If a company truly puts the customer first, then they'll offer one or more payment options. A payment option also shifts some of the financial risk from you to them, thus giving you a bit of leverage if you ever need it.
  • Does the company offer a warranty and guarantee? Is the warranty transferable to a new homeowner should you sell your house? What exactly does the warranty and guarantee cover? Is a copy of the warranty and guarantee available online? If not, can you call the company and get a copy?
Check out the Better Business Bureau.

Visit the Better Business Bureau website and start your research: Nearly every reliable home repair and maintenance company is a BBB member. So, if you don't find the company listed on the BBB website, you should think twice about doing business with them.

Once you find the company on the BBB website, check out their profile, looking at their rating. Also, have they won any awards? Are there any customer complaints?

Ask some essential 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?
Look for a free consultation or estimate.

A respectable company will offer a free consultation, a free estimate, or both. Any company that charges for an estimate is more interested in taking your money than in your family's home and your peace of mind.

Go with your gut.

Last but not least, go with your instincts. If you feel that a foundation repair company is pushing too hard, doesn't seem to have the right answers, or in any other way raises a red flag with you, reconsider your choice to do business with them. Most of us have a decent sense of what constitutes good business and what does not — Use that gut feeling to steer you in the right direction.

With careful research and common sense, you should be able to pick a good foundation repair company.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

2 Great Videos on Landscaping Drainage and Your Foundation

This will be the last of the videos for awhile, but these two are really important. Both deal with your landscaping, the soil around your house, and how its drainage affects your foundation.

And, here's the second video.

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A Short Video on Foundation Repair

If you have about two minutes, you might enjoy this short video on the basics of foundation repair. This video shows the use of piers for repair, as opposed to void filling or mud jacking. (We at Ace Foundation Repair typically use piers and don't recommend void filling or mud jacking.)

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pier and Beam Video

Here's a video we found that we think does a pretty good job of describing a pier and beam foundation.

Note the reference to the clay soil, which is common in north Texas and southern Oklahoma.

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