Exposing Cheap Foundation Repair In Amarillo: Concrete Push Piles | Childers Brothers Inc.

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Exposing Cheap Foundation Repair In Amarillo:  Concrete Push Piles

Exposing Cheap Foundation Repair In Amarillo: Concrete Push Piles

There’s A Reason Concrete Push Piles Cost A Cut-Rate Price:
They Can Fail Within Just 6 Months!

BY CORY DAVIS, CO-OWNER

This article is the first in a series of what I call Exposing Cheap Foundation Repair In Amarillo. Each article will focus on a foundation repair solution that comes with a cheap price tag… but will actually cost you MUCH MORE than a higher-price solution in the long run.

Today, we’ll be looking at concrete push piles. So let’s get started…

Cheap Foundation Repair Spotlight: Concrete Push Piles

Concrete Push Pile Failing Under Foundation

A failing concrete push pile we were called to fix.

Concrete push piles are cylindrical pieces of concrete that are 6-inches in diameter and 12-inches in length. They are pushed into the soil under the foundation beams using the weight of the structure they’re lifting. (In other words, the weight of your house is what drives them into the soil.)

Many Amarillo foundation companies use concrete push piles because they’re pretty easy to install and have low labor costs. As a result, concrete push piles are one of the least expensive foundation repair solutions in West Texas for homeowners.

But that cheap initial investment comes with a heavy long-term price.

Concrete push piles not only break down in as little as six months… they can also DESTROY your actual foundation.

I’d know—homeowners call us to fix foundation issues caused by concrete push piles at least twice a month!

So, what are the exact problems with push piles?

Let’s take a look…

Problem #1: Concrete Push Piles Aren’t Long Enough

Push piles typically don’t go deep enough to make it past the soil’s active zone.

The active zone is the soil that’s susceptible to movement due to moisture. If a pier or pile doesn’t make it past this zone into stable soil, it’s going to shift and breakdown as the active zone’s soil expands and contracts.

The depth required to reach stable soil can vary anywhere from five feet to more than 60 feet. The problem is that concrete push piles are only 12 inches long… nowhere near enough to make it past the active zone.

Concrete Push Pile - Active Soil Diagram

Push piles are too short to get past the active zone.

A workaround for this is stacking the push piles. Most companies place a cable or small piece of rebar down the middle to hold the piles together, though some contractors don’t use any stabilizing component at all.

The problem with this approach is that the stacks don’t tend to stay straight. Piles within the stack can shift individually, causing the entire stack to fail.

Push pile stacks also aren’t strong enough to withstand heavy-duty soil shifts and obstructions. Every pile in the stack is a potential weak point, as this image demonstrates…

Concrete Push Pile - Obstruction Diagram

About as sturdy as a Jenga tower.

To recap…

  • Concrete push piles don’t go deep enough to get past the active soil zone
  • Companies can stack push piles to make it past the active zone
  • Stacked piles are prone to failure due to obstruction and soil shifts

But issues with push piles don’t stop there. Let’s look at the other big reason they fail so quickly.

Problem #2: Push Piles Rely On The Weight Of Your Home

As their name suggests, concrete push piles rely on the weight of your home to push them into the soil. Friction between the soil and the pile is what holds up the foundation.

There are a few giant issues with this setup…

Issue #1

With push piles, weight equals resistance. If the resistance of the soil is greater than the amount of weight of what’s pushing down the pile, the pile won’t go as deep as it should.

Issue #2

Push piles have a 1-to-1 safety factor. That means if the pile has to lift 2,000lbs, that’s the maximum amount of weight it can carry. Anything more puts stress on the foundation.

Broken Concrete Push Pile - Foundation Repair Amarillo, TX

Note the foundation damage this concrete push pile caused.

To put resistance and weight in perspective, helical piers have a 2-to-1 safety factor. That means if a helical pier is asked to carry 2,000lbs, it can actually carry up to 4,000lbs. There is ZERO chance of the helical pier being overloaded, therefore there is ZERO chance of putting stress on your foundation.

Concrete Push Pile Next To Helical Pier Bracket

A damaged push pile (left) next to our helical pier bracket & hydraulic jack (right).

To recap…

  • Concrete push piles rely on the weight of your home to push them down
  • This creates extra stress on your home and can cause further foundation failure
  • Solutions like helical piers have a 2-to-1 safety factor to eliminate this problem

Bottom line: Concrete push piles can actually cause MORE damage to your foundation… and end up costing your tens of thousands of dollars you didn’t need to spend.

Do Concrete Push Piles Ever Work?

Under very specific—and, therefore, rare—conditions, concrete push piles can perform relatively well.

If you have exceptionally soft soil, for example. Or if the push pile can make it to bedrock. In either of these instances, concrete push piles can last about 10 years. But like I said, these are extraordinarily rare circumstances—especially in West Texas, where harder clay soils reign supreme.

Why Investing MORE In Foundation Repair Will Cost You LESS

When you choose concrete push piles, you almost certainly will be paying to have them repaired or replaced… sooner rather than later. I know from experience; we replace concrete push piles dozens of times per year.

What, exactly, do we replace them with?

Our ultra-strength helical piers.

Our helical piers have a 2-to-1 safety factor, can go as deep as needed, and do not require the weight of your home to push them down. (You can find out more details by visiting our official Helical Piers page.)

Do helical piers cost more up front than concrete push piles? Yes.

Do they cost more in the long run than concrete push piles? Not even remotely.

Not only do helical piers last for LIFE, but they also won’t gradually damage your foundation like concrete push piles can. In other words, you save money long-term with a permanent solution that keeps your foundation healthy and strong.

If you’d like to know more about concrete push piles and helical piers, get in touch today. And if you’re working within a certain budget, we provide excellent financing and custom solutions.

Bottom line: We can provide you with Done Once, Done Right foundation repair in Amarillo. And we can do it for a reasonable price.