When the foundation of your home has incurred damage, there are several different methods that may be used to repair it and restore your home to perfect condition. The method that is used will ultimately depend on the extent and cause of the damage as well as the specific architecture of your home. However, one of the most common and most effective methods for repairing a failing foundation is foundation underpinning.
At Abry Brothers Foundation and Structural Solutions, we want our customers to know exactly what is going to be done to repair their home when they hire us. Since foundation underpinning is such a common method that we employ, we thought we’d take the time in this blog post to thoroughly explain what foundation underpinning is, how it works, and when it might be necessary.
What is Foundation Underpinning?
There are several different types of foundation underpinning, meaning that the exact definition of the process can vary depending on what type of foundation underpinning your foundation repair experts are employing.
However, one thing that all types of foundation underpinning have in common is that they are designed to strengthen your foundation by introducing strengthening material into and beneath the foundation.
In the same way that you might strengthen and fortify an above-ground structure by adding extra support beams, foundation underpinning is designed to bolster your foundation by adding support to it. In the next section we’ll talk about the various types of foundation underpinning, but, for now, suffice it to say that all types of foundation underpinning entail adding support to your foundation so that it is able to effectively bear the weight of your home and other environmental factors without sinking or settling.
Types of Foundation Underpinning
There are three main types of foundation underpinning that your foundation repair experts may choose to use depending on your home’s specific foundation and the damage that is has incurred. These three types include:
Mass Concrete Underpinning
One of the most common types of foundation underpinning is mass concrete underpinning. Mass concrete underpinning is ideal for repairing shallow foundations that simply cannot fully support the weight of the home above them. It’s also ideal for repairing foundations that have incurred damage due to weak soil beneath the foundation.
During the mass concrete underpinning process, weak soil beneath your foundation is excavated and replaced with concrete. While this concrete does not directly increase the width of your foundation, it effectively accomplishes the same purpose by giving your foundation a much more solid and strong base to rest upon.
In most cases, the soil beneath your home will become stronger and more compact the deeper you go down. Mini-piled underpinning is a method that allows you to take advantage of this fact by supporting the weight of your home on soil that is deeper down than the soil that your foundation is directly resting on.
Mini-piled underpinning involves drilling holes in your foundation that range from 15-cm to 30-cm in diameter and driving steel-encased piles down into those holes. Typically, the piles will be driven further than five meters down into the soil and may be driven as far as fifteen meters into the ground.
By driving these piles deep down into the ground, the stronger, more compact soil beneath your home is able to help support your foundation and prevent it from sinking.
Beam and Base Underpinning
Beam and base underpinning is a method that shares a lot of similarities with the mass concrete underpinning method. As with mass concrete underpinning, beam and base underpinning involves excavating the soil beneath your foundation and replacing it with concrete. However, with beam and base underpinning, extra steps are taken to fortify your foundation even further.
After concrete has been poured beneath your foundation, a reinforced concrete beam is placed beneath the foundation in such a way that it evenly spreads the weight of your foundation across the concrete beneath it. While beam and base underpinning is more technically advanced than mass concrete underpinning, it’s the best option for cases when extra support beyond what mass concrete underpinning provides is needed.
It’s important to note that the three types of foundation underpinning listed above are simply the most common methods of foundation underpinning, and there are several other methods that may be used as well. With every method of foundation underpinning, though, your home will be temporarily supported using wood or steel beams while the project is underway. Once your foundation underpinning has been installed, these temporary supports will be removed.
When is Foundation Underpinning Necessary?
There are cases where foundation underpinning will not be the most effective solution for repairing a damaged foundation. In most instances, though, foundation underpinning will be the most effective option and will likely be the first option that your foundation repair experts will consider.
Foundation underpinning is ideal for both repairing foundations that are simply too weak to support the weight of the structure above them as well as repairing foundations where the soil beneath the foundation has become too weak to support the weight of your home. Since weak soil and/or weak foundations are the most common causes of foundation failure, foundation underpinning will most often be the best solution for repairing a damaged foundation.
If your home is suffering from a damaged or failing foundation, there’s a good chance that foundation underpinning will be able to fully repair your foundation and restore your home back to ideal condition.
At Abry Brothers, we are experts at foundation underpinning as well as all other methods of foundation repair that may need to be employed. We’ll examine your home and its foundation in order to determine the best possible method of repair then work to restore your foundation back to perfect condition as quickly as possible.
If you would like to learn more about how Abry Brothers can help you assess the damage to your home’s foundation and repair that damage in a way that is both efficient and affordable, we invite you to contact us today.