Dawson Foundation Repair
Dawson Foundation Repair
Dawson Foundation Repair

713-668-2110 (Houston)
214-234-8421 (Dallas)
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Are Pushed Piles Vertical?

Posted by on Sep 6, 2014 in Compare | 0 comments

The Competition Hopes They are Vertical

Hoping for a good outcome is not a good foundation repair strategy. Unlike our competitors, our repair method (Bell Bottom Piers) is not based on hope but rather certainty. What are we talking about?

Comparison of a skewed column of pushed piles compared to a Bell Bottom Pier

A skewed column of pushed piles compared to a Bell Bottom Pier

Our competitors use hydraulic jacks to push concrete cylinders into the ground. The problem is that once they go into the ground the contractor has no method to confirm that the column of concrete piles is vertical. And it must be vertical if it is going to support the foundation. There are many different underground obstructions and/or challenges from tree roots to rocks to different soil densities.


We know that sometimes these concrete cylinders do manage to “line up” vertically. We also know that sometimes the column skews off on an angle. We know this because we have dug up some of the work of previous contractors to show homeowners what has happened. It is usually quite a surprise for a homeowner.

Bad Result – Failure

When a column of pushed piles skews off on an angle it can not offer the needed support for the foundation and home. The neighboring columns of pushed piles must accept the additional weight but this is impossible because they are at their maximum limits. This is where thefactor of safety comes into play. This is an engineering term that explains how a structure or column can bear (accept) a certain amount of weight. Since the weight of the home was used to drive the concrete piles into the ground, the factor of safety is 1. That means the column of pushed piles can only bear the weight of that portion of the foundation and home in its direct location. It can not bear any additional weight. For example, if 3 columns of pushed piles were intended to support a section of foundation, and one of the columns skewed off at an angle, the other two can not bear the additional weight. This would result in failure.

A skewed column of pushed piles is probably the primary reason for so many “relevels” in the Texas market. When one or more columns of pushed piles is skewed at an angle it is a failed support structure. There is no recovery. A “relevel” will generate some temporary relief because of the “skin friction” of the column with the soil but in these situations the failure of the repair job is irreversible.

Some of our competitors are asking their customers to pay for “relevels.” They are asking customers to pay more money for a failed foundation repair job? Kinda bold isn’t it?

The Question to Ask

The next time you speak to a foundation repair contractor that proposes to push some concrete piles under your foundation’s perimeter beam ask him this question:

How do you know that the column of pushed piles (usually 10 to 20 feet) is vertical?

The correct answer is: “I don’t know.”

If the repair contractor gives you any other answer then he is not telling you the truth. There is NO guarantee, no confirmation method, no assurance that the column of pushed piles is vertical. This applies to both connected and unconnected columns of pushed piles. If it is not vertical then it is a doomed support structure.

On the Other Hand, Bell Bottom Piers

Certainty. Before we pour the concrete for a Bell Bottom Pier the excavated hole is inspected by an independent engineering firm. The depth, position, angle, and all diameters are confirmed. We know that the Bell Bottom Piers will meet the specifications. That’s certainty, not hope.


The bottom line – The pushed pile method is based on hope. The contractor hopes the concrete piles are driven vertically. The homeowner also has the same hopes – except the contractor didn’t really explain it that way. Do you really want a foundation repair method that is based on hope rather than certainity?

Oh, did we mention that the “footprint” or support area of a column of pushed piles is less than 8% of the footprint of a Bell Bottom Pier? We should.  That is part of the difference between low quality and high quality foundation repair methods.  You can read more about it here.

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13x Greater Support

Posted by on Aug 28, 2014 in Compare | 0 comments

13x Greater Support with Bell Bottom Piers

Support, support, support.  That’s what it is all about.  The clay soils under your home’s slab foundation have moved, shifted, swollen, shrunk, or some combination of these events.  In short, the dirt under your foundation is not providing the proper or necessary support and if that is the case then the soil has probably fractured your concrete slab in one or more places. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some stable, solid support under your home’s foundation?

The Bell Bottom Pier offers 380 square inches of support vs. only 28.3 sq inches of support from a concrete pile

Comparison of Area of Support – 6 inch diameter concrete pile vs. 22 inch diameter Bell Bottom Pier

What do you think of the photo above? We are comparing the area of support of a commonly used concrete pile versus the area of support of a Bell Bottom Pier.  The 6 inch diameter concrete pile only offers 28.3 square inches of area/support while the 22 inch diameter Bell Bottom Pier offers 380 square inches of area/support.  The difference is by a factor of 13 – that is, one is 13 times greater than the other.  Or to state it another way, a pushed pile offers less than 8% of the support area of a Bell Bottom Pier. Isn’t it obvious which one of the two will offer greater support for your home’s concrete foundation?

Let’s look at it a different way.  Let’s assume your home needs 10 support structures (piles or piers) to support an area of settlement around the front and side perimeter foundation beam. So how much support does each method offer?

10 pushed piles x 28.3 sq inches = 283 total square inches of support
10 Bell Bottom Piers x 380 sq inches = 3800 total square inches of support

Not. Even. Close.

The Bell Bottom Pier is the Highest Quality foundation repair method available in the state of Texas. We only offer this method of construction because we strongly feel that the homeowner should receive a proven and permanent repair solution.  Other low quality repair methods have inherent flaws that lead to frequent failure.

We frequently tell homeowners that they get what they pay for.  If they pay a low price for foundation repair they are going to receive a low quality repair effort. Here are the basic formulas:

Low Quality Foundation Repair = minimal support + segmented concrete piles + low price

Highest Quality Foundation Repair = 13x more support + monolithic construction (one unit) + higher price

So what do you want for your home, a low quality job or the highest quality available? View the image below.

Comparison of a skewed column of pushed piles compared to a Bell Bottom Pier

A skewed column of pushed piles compared to a Bell Bottom Pier

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Foundation Support for Dummies

Posted by on Dec 31, 2013 in Compare | 0 comments

Foundation Support for Dummies (and Concrete Slabs)

Can you imagine an elephant walking around on skinny legs and “insy-tinsy” feet? Do you think that would work well? Probably not because elephants weigh tons. They need large, strong legs and large, flat feet to give their bodies the necessary support. It’s really just simple physics.

So why do homeowners buy “foundation repair” services that offer “skinny legs” and “insy-tinsy” feet? Well, because they don’t know or understand the truth. Of course, they are persuaded by contractors that these “pressed pile” repair methods are adequate. One of the truths the contractors don’t tell homeowners is that these “pressed pile” methods are very profitable for the contractor – more profitable than larger, stronger methods such as the Bell Bottom Pier method.

Skinny Legs with Insy-Tinsy Feet vs. Bell Bottom Piers

Foundation Repair in Plano Texas depends on solid Bell Bottom Piers with large feet for support

Above is a diagram of our Bell Bottom Pier compared to the other common methods of foundation repair. Which one do you think is more capable of supporting tons of weight? Which one do you think is stronger? Which one is permanent and proven? I think you know the answer now.

Advantages of Bell Bottom Piers

  • single unit – solid one piece construction
  • can be inspected prior to final installation – the shape, size, and depth of the cap and the drilled shaft and bell bottom foot can be confirmed with tools and a visual inspection
  • steel rebar is inserted in the shaft and cap of the concrete pier for additional strength
  • large foot – the bell bottom creates a 22 inch diameter foot for support of heavy loads

Engineering Studies and Opinions

We have gathered various reports, opinions, and studies written by structural engineers about different foundation repair methods. Structural engineers are the engineers that are specifically educated to understand and analyze concrete slab foundations. They are the ultimate experts. You won’t find much support for “pressed pile” repair methods. As a matter of fact, you won’t find any. You will find some harsh criticism that labels these methods “temporary” and “useless.”

Please give us a call for a foundation inspection today!

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Why we Like Bell Bottom Piers

Posted by on Dec 14, 2013 in Compare | 1 comment

Bell Bottom Pier illustration; proven and permanentWe Like Bell Bottom Piers

The reason we like Bell Bottom Piers is simple – they are better than any other option. Yes, they are more expensive and require a longer installation time. But we are talking about your home and most people would prefer the best option even if it costs a little more.  And when you compare Bell Bottom Piers to the other options it becomes very clear that the other options are inferior.

Proven and Time-Tested

Bell Bottom Piers have proven themselves over time.  They are almost 100 years old and were developed in Texas for commercial buildings. Builders in the 1900s had the same problem we have today – clay soil that shrinks when dry and expands when wet.  This problem is referred to as soil movement and Bell Bottom Piers (or drilled piers) have been and are currently used for commercial buildings, bridges, and highway overpasses today.  Bell Bottom Piers are the best engineering solution offered to resist soil movement.

About 60 years ago homebuilders started building homes on concrete slab foundations. And about 60 years ago these homes started having problems with cracks in the interior and the exterior.  Yes, it is the same problem – clay soils that move.

Bell Bottom Piers were adapted for residential use some decades ago.  It was the first and is still the best solution for leveling a home as close as possible to its original elevation.


The installation of Bell Bottom Piers is a permanent solution for homeowners that need foundation repair. They are built to be solid, one piece structural supports with a wide base (foot) to support heavy loads. They are reinforced with steel rebar and at Dawson we have never had a Bell Bottom Pier fail.  Bell Bottom Piers avoid all of the installation problems of cheaper methods.


At Dawson we have been installing Bell Bottom Piers since 1984. We have a very good idea of how well our piers are performing because if there is a problem the customer will call us. The Bell Bottom Pier system is not perfect and occasionally we will have to revisit a customer and make a leveling adjustment because of significant soil movement or drainage problems. But this is a very rare occurrence.

With the other methods our competitors are visiting their customers repeatedly to adjust their systems – sometimes annually. When a contractor (our competition) has to make annual adjustments to their system then it is a obvious failure of the system to support the home. Some of our competitors are making so many re-adjustment visits that they are beginning to charge homeowners. So homeowners have paid for a failed system and are charged again and again for adjustments to the failed system.

You can read more about these other repair systems from some structural engineers who have described our competitor’s systems as “useless” and “temporary.”


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Rain and your Concrete Foundation

Posted by on Nov 6, 2013 in Compare | 0 comments

Rain and your Concrete Foundation

Now that Texas has experienced two very hot any dry summer seasons in the last three years (2011 and 2013), What happens when the region begins to receive rain? Answer: Movement. The concrete slab foundation under your home is going to move – maybe a little, maybe more than a little, maybe a whole lot.

Let’s take a step back and look at the cause, which is clay soil.  Most of eastern Texas and the southern United States have clay soils and concrete slab foundation rest upon these soils and rely on them for support. Clay soil is like a giant sponge – when the climate is hot and dry they will lose a great deal of water and when the climate is wet these soils will absorb a great deal of water. So the soil volume is repeatedly shrinking and expanding in volume throughout the years.  Since concrete slabs rest upon the clay soils, and the deeper perimeter and internal beams are “submerged” into the soils, the shrinking and expanding movement of the clay soils put tremendous stresses on the concrete foundation.

So what happens when it Rains?

Well, What happened before the rain?  Did the area experience hot, dry weather for an extended period of time?  If so, then the clay soils have shrunk in volume and pulled away from the foundation.  Usually this is most pronounced around the perimeter of the home.  If the area of soil shrinkage is large enough then the weight of the home will cause a portion of the concrete slab to crack and collapse (settlement) until it reaches support – which is the shrunken soil.  Now when it rains the soil will absorb the water and expand in volume. This will cause the soil and the foundation to move upward (uplift). The annual result is that a portion of the home slab foundation has cracked and collapsed (downward movement) and then risen (upward movement). This is when the homeowner will see the distinct warning signs of foundation damage such as cracked bricks, cracks in interior walls, and doors and windows that jam and stick.

Are all Home Foundations Vulnerable?

Foundation Repair in Houston, Texas (713) 668-2110

Bell Bottom Pier – Front View

Unfortunately most home foundations in Texas are built with too little concrete and too little steel rebar to resist these forces of soil movement. State laws in Texas protect home builders from building under-engineered and under-designed concrete slab foundations.  The homeowner is stuck with the financial burden of a damaged home foundation and collateral damage to the home.  On the other hand, commercial builders are not protected by state law for building under-engineered foundations for commercial buildings. Commercial builders are well aware that commercial building owners can sue them for building shoddy foundations – something that homeowners cannot do because of Texas law.

At Dawson Foundation Repair we understand that your home may be the most valuable asset that you own.  We utilize a superior method of foundation repair known as the Bell Bottom Pier method. This is a far better method than the “fast and cheap” methods offered by almost every company in the industry. The Bell Bottom Pier method is PERMANENT and its advantages over other methods are “eye-popping.”  Please read more about these advantages on our Compare Foundation Repair Methods page.

And please read what some of the testimonial letters have to say about our work and company.

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