Pros and Cons of Different House Leveling Methods
There are few things scarier to a homeowner than a settling foundation. It could start with cracks in the basement walls or an unevenness to the home. Technical terms aside, a settling foundation means that your home is sinking which is always a problem you want to take care of urgently.
Fortunately, there are ways to level your house and rise your foundation. In fact, there are several house leveling methods. However, they’re not all equal in terms of cost or effectiveness. As new methods emerge, the old methods still hang on, and it’s important not to choose your house leveling methods lightly.
Make sure the house leveling method you choose is truly the best option for your home. In today’s blog, we’ll break down the different house leveling methods available in terms of their pros and cons so you can make the choice for yourself.
First — Consider Your Foundation
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to house leveling. It often depends on your foundation. What helps with slab foundations does not always help with crawlspace foundations, and some basement foundation solutions aren’t very helpful if you don’t have a basement. It also may be that your foundation as a whole needs to be replaced, which is why we list here a few foundational options such as concrete slab or crawlspace.not sure what your trying to say here in this sentence
Soil stabilization is a great option if the issue with your settling foundation is the soil. Soil that becomes too dry can shift too easily and cause your home to sink, while soil that’s too moist can expand and push against the walls of your home. Soil stabilization involves an injection that chemically alters the soil so that it no longer expands or contracts.
Soil Stabilization Pros:
- Installation. Soil stabilization is drilled into the soil through minimally invasive machinery, making it one of the least disruptive methods of leveling your house.
- Long Lasting. We use EcSS 3000, a proven soil stabilizer that chemically alters the soil forever, so you won’t have to worry about the soil being unable to hold your home up.
- Environmentally Friendly. The idea of chemical alteration might not sound like an eco-friendly option, but because our method of soil stabilization is so precise, it causes little damage to the environment.
Soil Stabilization Cons:
- Varying Methods. If you choose soil stabilization, make sure you use EcSS 3000 over something like lime stabilization or calcium-based soil stabilization for best results.
- Specific Issue. This addresses the specific issue of shifting or expanding soil, not other foundational problems you might have.
Have a basement foundation? Notice that the walls might be buckling or cracking? It could be that your basement isn’t stable enough to uphold the rest of the home. Basement stabilization focuses on straightening and stabilizing basement walls to make them stronger than before and better able to uphold your foundation.
Basement Stabilization Pros:
- Wall Strength. Basement stabilization takes your buckling basement walls and reinforces them, often making them stronger than they were in the first place.
- Long Lasting. When done by the right experts, this method will last for decades and you won’t have to worry about your settling foundation again.
- Easy To See the Difference. The proof is on the walls, so you don’t have to look too hard for signs that it’s working.
Basement Stabilization Cons:
- Basement Only. Not every home has a basement, so if your foundation is settling but you don’t have a basement, this won’t be much help.
- Interior-focused. Sometimes those cracks on your basement wall are a sign of issues with the soil, which could mean that you need soil stabilization instead. It’s best to talk to a professional about which best suits your home.
Plate anchors are sometimes used when homeowners find bowing walls in their basement. It involves drilling an earth anchor hole into the bowing wall, which is then attached to an anchor through use of a rod. On the interior, a wall plate holds the rod and wall to the anchor plate. Once the plate and the anchor are tightened, the hole used to form the plate anchor is refilled and the sod replaced in your yard.
Plate Anchor Pros:
- Minimal Disruption. Although plate anchors require digging up part of the yard, they do not require a full excavation, and the disruption to the soil is relatively minimal.
- Long Term Solution. Plate anchors are tough and offer a long-term solution to the issue of soil pushing on the basement walls.
- Effective Immediately. Plate anchors start working as soon as they’re installed.
Plate Anchor Cons:
- Requires Digging. Helical piers, for instance, are drilled into the ground, while soil stabilization is injected through a very thin hole. Plate anchors require some amount of excavation, which can be problematic if you have a flowerbed nearby.
- Could Be Interrupted By Tree Roots. If you have a tree near enough to the house that the roots reach the foundational soil, you may not be able to use plate anchors.
- Needs Adjustment. While it does work in the long run, it’s not one-and-done and may need some adjustment in order to continue to work.
Pier and Beam Adjustment
Crawlspaces are often upheld by piers and beams, and over time, those piers and beams can become weakened, thus making the foundation prone to sinking. We realign your piers and repair any fallen beams in order to strengthen them and stabilize your crawlspace foundation.
Pier and Beam Adjustment Pros:
- Simple. This is not a complete overhaul but rather a reinforcement of a system that you already have, which can make the labor less intensive and the cost a little easier.
- Top Products. We use top products backed by careful installation to ensure that this form of house leveling holds up for years.
- Analysis Backed. We start this process with a 27-point analysis so we can pinpoint exactly what the problem might be before committing to pier and beam adjustment.
Pier and Beam Adjustment Cons:
- Specific. The main drawback to this version of house leveling is that it’s specific to crawlspaces. If you have a different kind of foundation, then this won’t apply for obvious reasons.
Push piers have long been a classic option when it comes to settling foundation, and boast long-term effects, but there are drawbacks to this method, as well. Push pier foundation repair involves steel piers that are pushed into the foundational soil all the way to the load-bearing stratum through use of a hydraulic ram. Pier brackets anchor them to the foundation, and the weight of the structure becomes the “resistance mass” that helps to keep the foundation from settling again.
Push Pier Pros:
- Can Be Installed In Small Spaces. Push piers are installed through hand-held equipment and can fit into small spaces, which makes them an option where other methods might not be.
- Great For Heavy Buildings. Because it uses the weight of the structure as the resistance mass, push piers are popular when it comes to the foundation repair of commercial buildings or large homes.
Push Pier Cons:
- Can’t Handle Lighter Structures. The fact that push piers use the weight of the building as resistance mass can be a boon…or a curse. If you have a smaller structure, such as a 1 story family home, it might not be heavy enough for push piers to be effective.
- Won’t Work With Broken Footings. Push piers are anchored to the foundation with pier brackets, but if the foundation footing is damaged, push piers won’t be effective.
- Cannot Be Removed. Once push piers are installed, you can’t move them or adjust them. They’re compression-fit. In fact, if you plan to add onto your home, you’ll have to add push piers rather than move them around to make room for the new addition.
Our personal favorite when it comes to house leveling methods is helical piers. This method uses steel piers with screw-like features that are drilled deep into the ground to raise the settled foundation of your home. Like push piers, helical piers are made with heavy-duty steel run deep to the load-bearing soil, but they have benefits that push piers don’t.
Helical Pier Pros:
- Can Hold Light Loads. These piers function like screws holding your home to the foundation. They are not dependent on the weight of the structure, and thus can handle smaller, lighter buildings.
- Can Be Adjusted and Moved. Need to add onto your home? Helical piers can be removed and placed in a different location to accommodate your home addition or other construction changes.
- Installation. No excessive mess. These helical piers will be drilled precisely where they need to go in order to raise your foundation. It’s also a faster installation process than push piers.
- Environmental Impact. The environmental impact of helical piers is relatively low, perfect for the eco-conscious homeowner.
- Can Work With Broken Footing. Is the footing of your foundation damaged? No problem. Helical piers can still be installed to securely hold up your home.
Helical Pier Cons:
- Soil Dependent. Instead of relying on the weight of the building, helical piers rely on the density of the foundational soil. If the soil is not dense enough for helical piers to be effective, shafts can be added to the project until there are enough helical piers to hold up the structure securely, but this can drive up material and labor costs.
We stand by helical piers as a house leveling method for almost any home, but ultimately you have to choose the method that’s best for you. Contact Childers Brothers, Inc. today for more information about our house leveling methods including helical piers, soil stabilization, and basement stabilization or to get started with a free estimate.