Myths of the Foundation Repair Industry

Over the years we have seen some crazy claims made by our competitors. Ranging from bad advice to fuzzy science to outright lies – and we have compiled a list of the most common myths of foundation repair. Want to know the truth? Read on and find out for yourself.

Mud pumping is not necessary.
Bell Bottom Piers have the same misalignment problems as pilings.
A skilled crew always installs pilings straight.
Pilings can be installed deeper than piers.
Pilings can support your home.
Bell Bottom Piers are more complicated to install than pilings.
Bell Bottom Piers are “old” technology.
Other systems are “new” technology.

And always be aware of the warning signs of foundation problems that may be present in your home or commercial property.

Mud pumping is NOT Necessary

There are a number of foundation repair companies out there that claim mud pumping (also known as pressure grouting, or mud jacking) is a waste of time and money. If you want the job done right, however, filling the voids that appear after leveling a house is absolutely critical.

The official term for a concrete foundation is “slab on grade.” Grade is a fancy engineering term for ground. Concrete slab foundations are specifically designed to rest flat on the ground. The ground supports the foundation just as the foundation supports a home. It is slow changes to the ground that the foundation rests on which cause foundation problems in the first place. If a void is left under a home’s foundation, the slab comes under serious risk of shifting or even cracking and requiring more house leveling work.

Why do companies call mud pumping a waste of money? The sad and simple truth is that the equipment required to do the job properly costs tens of thousands of dollars and cheap, here-today-gone-tomorrow house leveling companies cannot or will not make the investment required to do it. Read more about the cost of foundation repair.


Bell Bottom Piers have the same Misalignment Problems as Pressed Pilings

Unlike pilings, Bell Bottom Piers are constructed of reinforced concrete poured into drilled holes. That means that, unlike pressed pilings, a person can verify the depth and alignment of piers just by looking or measuring. This gives the installers the unique ability to carefully check each pier for any problems in the installation process.


A Skilled Crew always Installs Pressed Pilings Straight

How can someone tell if a series of segmented concrete pilings are driven straight down into the ground? They can’t. Nobody can verify correct installation because there is no method to do so.

Over the years, excavation of failed piling installations have revealed time and time again that pilings can be (and frequently are) installed improperly. If a pressed concrete piling is driven into a tree root, rock, or just a different layer of soil, there is a significant chance of the piling deflecting and being driven in at an angle.

Because this occurs underground with no way of verification, even the most experienced, competent, and motivated installation crews can improperly install pressed pilings.


Pressed Pilings can be installed Deeper than Bell Bottom Piers

The simple fact is that piers can be drilled as deep as someone wants them to go. The typical Bell Bottom Pier is 8-15 feet deep because a pier only has to be deep enough to be firmly anchored in stable soil. Once that point is reached, there is no real reason to continue to drill deeper.

Pressed pilings on the other hand, have to be pushed to the point of refusal. The point of refusal is the point at which the weight of the house can no longer push the piling deeper into the ground. This point is different from the depth of stable soil and can be higher or lower, depending on the specific conditions of the location.

Many times the point of refusal is more shallow and the pilings do not reach stable soil. If this happens, the pilings are vulnerable to lateral soil movement and provide no protection against the shrinking and swelling of the soil. Other times the point of refusal can be so extremely deep that installation crews give up trying to find it out of concern for material costs. Unfortunately, no matter how deep the pilings are pressed, if they do not reach the point of refusal, they are providing absolutely no benefit to the foundation. You can read more about this topic in our engineering information section.


Segmented Pressed Pilings can Support your Home

There is no safety factor built into a foundation repair method that uses a home’s own weight to drive it into the ground. To understand what this means, one must understand what a safety factor is.

A “safety factor” is a ratio of two forces: how much force a structure can take and how much force a structure is expected to take. For example, imagine that there was enough room on a bridge so that it could be expected to hold 10 fully loaded trucks at one time. To make sure it never collapses, the designers of that bridge build it so that it can hold 40 trucks at once. The bridge is designed with a “safety factor” of 4:1.

If the weight of your home is used as the driving force, the maximum amount a piling can support, ever, is the weight of your home. The safety factor of a piling is 1:1. Industry standards for engineering recommend a minimum safety factor for any structure of 3:1. Bell Bottom Piers are designed to have a safety factor of approximately 6:1.

In short, a foundation repair method that has no safety factor assumes that the soil conditions and the weight of your home will never change.

The simple fact is that soil conditions are constantly changing. The fact that your home’s foundation is damaged in the first place indicates that the soil conditions are different than when the foundation was first poured. When soil is moist, it swells. When soil is dry, it shrinks. Things that cause the soil to become moist include activities like rain, watering your plants, and leaking pipes. Things that cause your soil to shrink include drought, plant growth, and heat.

Not only do the soils shrink and swell, they also can support more or less weight depending on the moisture level. It is harder to drive pilings into dry soils. If installed in dry soil, when the moisture returns, the weakened soil will cause your home to resume sinking.

For long-term results, you need a foundation repair method that will survive the passage of time. You do not want to worry about rearranging the furniture in your home out of fear the change in weight will cause your foundation to start sinking again. You need a foundation repair method that is specifically designed to withstand changing soil conditions. You need Bell Bottom Piers.


Bell Bottom Piers are more Complicated to Install than Pressed Pilings

Occasionally companies will claim that Bell Bottom Piers are harder and more complicated to install than piling methods. It is usually something other house leveling companies use to scare you away from their competition. They imply that because piers require more expertise to install, there is a higher rate of failure. To a certain extent this is true, but if you do your homework, you can find an experienced company with a proven track record that you can trust.

Dawson has been in business since 1984 and has serviced over 10,000 foundations in the state of Texas. You can read hundreds of testimonials and check our records with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA).


Bell Bottom Piers are “Old” Technology (this is TRUE !!)

Bell Bottom Piers have been in use in the house leveling industry since the 1960s. They have been used in the commercial construction of office buildings and hi-rises for ALMOST 100 years. Since then, they have been thoroughly tested all across Texas, installed almost everywhere, and proven themselves to be the BEST foundation repair method available. Bell Bottom Piers are still the principle foundation support used in the construction of high rises, bridges, overpasses, and any project that requires more support than the soil itself can provide.

The history of Bell Bottom Piers is very interesting. They were “invented” in Texas and you can read about it by clicking the preceeding link.


Other Systems are “New” Technology (TRUE again !!)

Absolutely true. Some of them are so new, in fact, that it is impossible to say if they provide any long-term benefit at all.

The only thing it takes for a company to get a new foundation repair method approved for use in Texas is the signature of a single engineer. Frequently these engineers are either the designers of the system in use or employees of the company that installs them who have plenty of incentive to see the method approved. The only house leveling method approved for use in Texas prior to deregulation of the industry was the Bell Bottom Pier method. Up to that point, other methods had failed to demonstrate their ability to permanently solve serious foundation problems.

Unlike the newer house leveling methods, Bell Bottom Piers have been tested by time and they are proven and permanent. There are reports published which detail its performance. They have supported structures without incident for decades. They are still the preferred method of foundation support.

So what do you say to someone who offers a “new and improved” foundation repair method? Prove it.

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