Many older homes in Houston, indeed some elegant newer homes, need pier and beam foundation repair.
Pier and beam foundations’ problems are quite different to concrete slabs, and, they require a different approach to restoration. They are usually composed of many vertical concrete bases which support the structure – called “piers”. This design approach lifts the support members of a structure’s floor, the “beams”, away from damp ground, thus reducing the likelihood of damage during flooding, and providing a convenient space for HVAC, plumbing and electrical wiring – a “crawlspace”.
Pier and beam foundations near Houston are constructed in two basic forms. The difference between the two is quite important when considering foundation repair.
Floors of a typical pier-and-beam-supported home rest on horizontal wooden timber beams often 6 inches square or larger. These floor-support timbers are raised off the ground by piers that are usually made of poured concrete or steel-reinforced concrete blocks. An interesting and important local variation is that many older homes in Houston used squared-off sections of rot-resistant Bois d’Arc tree stumps as piers.
Important Differences In Pier and Beam Foundation Repair
Distinguishing the two basic types of foundation construction is easy. Ask the question “what do the vertical piers sit on?”
Modern pier and beam construction uses a cast concrete “perimeter” or “grade beam” at the soil level. This surrounds your home providing a much larger bearing surface than the individual piers could provide. Most important, it ties together the vertical elements with a single horizontal unit.
Simply put, foundations with a perimeter grade beam can be lifted, leveled, stabilized with pilings, and warranted. Those without, cannot.
Adjustment of Floor Levels
An adjustment of the height of the floor is possible and can be done by raising the beams to take off the supports followed by the addition or removal of steel shims. Also, replacement of vertical elements can be done if there is a need.
The crawl space which is present under the floor contains wood that needs to be replaced periodically. The wood might be damaged with cracks starting to emerge or the wood losing its strength as a result of moisture or insects.
To reduce the possibility of rotting wood and prevent the growth of mold or fungus, sufficient ventilation needs to exist in your crawl space. Moisture build-up and humidity levels in your crawl space can be decreased by installing passive vents or mechanical ventilation systems.
In areas where pier and beam foundation repair work has been carried out, we provide a one year transferrable warranty for shimming and wood replacement.