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Expectations of Foundation Piering!

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The Healthy Home Show wX Don Derry

The Healthy Home Show wX Don Derry


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Foundation contractors usually provide some form of underpinning (Piering) as one of their services to repair a failed foundation. While underpinning is critical to the repair of the foundation, it is also crucial that customers, engineers, remodeling contractors and the general public understand the purpose of underpinning (Piering) and the Limitations.  Joins us as I explain the Expectations Of Foundation Piering (Underpinning) The Healthy Home Show with Don Derry. Call us at 816-505-9990 and Mention the Healthy Home Show and receive an additional 10% off any services. www.kcwaterproofing.com


1:18 Don Derry

Hey good morning Kansas City. This is Don Derry, your host with The Healthy Home show. It is a beautiful Friday morning here live in Kansas City. The sun is, well, it's under the cloud just a little bit around now but it is beautiful. Yesterday was great and it is amazing. I love spring, my favorite time of the year and hey, I wanna thank you so much for being with me today. It is great to have each and everyone of you and I hope I can add some value to you by sharing my experience with foundation repair, waterproofing, and environmental solutions to homes, buildings, and offices that I've been doing that now for over 29 years and I love to have you. Part of the show, if you'd like to call in today and listen in live, our number is 310-388-9739. We're now for 29 years. I cannot believe it. 29 years I have been assessing in repairing residential and commercial foundations. I'm a certified structure repair specialist and a certified foundation repair specialist and a certified waterproofing repair specialist, also do mold and mildew testing and abatement. And I would love to help you in anything that you have problems with around your home. Our number is 816-505-9990 or you can reach me direct at 816-838-8813 with any of your questions. Love to help you out. Well, hey! If your home is showing some signs of aging, maybe you've got some doors or windows not opening or closing right, maybe you have got some cracks on the Sheetrock. How about water in your basement? I know, it hasn't rained lately but it will and water will enter that basement when it does. Well, maybe you have some musty smell emerging from below.

3:15 Don Derry

I'm going to give you some great information today which can lead to solutions for your trouble at home. If you have questions, please give us a call, 816-505-9990. You can call KC Waterproofing, a foundation environmental specialist here in Kansas City, the foundation fixer. That's what we do, that's who we are, that's what we're going to do for you today. So, here, today, I wanna talk about the expectations of piering, okay? Last week we talked about what Piering was. We've talked about the Ram Jack Steel Piering System which consist of digging down next year home on the inside or the outside of your home and this process is used, let me back up a minute, this process is used when your foundation has settled, you have doors or windows that don't open or close properly, maybe you have cracks on your Sheetrock, that's what the system is for. It's a completely patented system that's designed to lift and stabilize the foundation structure of your property, whether it be a building, whether it be a home, it really does not matter. So, last week, we've talked about that so if you miss this, check out our podcast on thehealthyhomeshow.com on Blog Talk Radio and you can get the download there. Today, what I wanted to talk about is the expectations of the piering or underpinning, some call it, and this is a paper that's written from the Foundation Repair Association out of Texas. A friend of mine, Tom Witherspoon who is a structural engineer down in Texas, and also my good friend, Steve Gregory who is the founder of Ram Jack in Dallas Texas.

5:13 Don Derry

We have over 53 officer, 54 offices through the United States, Canada and in Costa Rica so Ram Jack is more than just locally here in Kansas City so we've got that support also plus all the engineer in structural and geotechnical support. But, as I said in my little script there, description for the show this week, you know, foundation repair contractors usually provide some form of piering or underpinning as one of the services to repair its failed foundation in Kansas City. We have several different types, we've talked about those last week and I don't wanna go in to all the, you know, things that I wouldn't put underneath my house but we won't talk about, go back and listen to the podcast. But, while underpinning is critical to the repair of the foundation, it's also critical that the customers, engineers, remodeling contractors and the general public understand the purpose of piering and underpinning and the limitations because it's just like with everything, you know, that you do in life. I mean, there, it has its purpose. It does exactly what it's supposed to do but there are some things that it doesn't do and a lot of people don't tell people about that. That's why I wanted to do the show today, just to give you some real down to earth information about fixing the foundation and what to expect after you get it fixed. So, let's talk about the definition of underpinning or piering is that underpinning is a process of modifying an existing foundation system by extending it deep into a subsurface strata that is deeper and more stable than the near surface of all that supports existing foundation system. Okay, let's talk about that.

7:10 Don Derry

So, every pier goes to bedrock, right? The answer is right because that's what everybody says, right? I mean, my pier goes down to bedrock, right? Well, no, it's not right. Let's face it, folks. You know, nobody knows without doing geotechnical drilling and soil examinations exactly where bedrock is, okay? And in some areas, it's pretty obvious, I mean, it could be 7 ft, it could be 10 ft, it could be 40 ft, I mean, it's pretty obvious, but there's no way to tell definitely that you're setting on bedrock, and here's the reason folks. Because piers are driven, they are pushed down in through the soil. You've got a 3-inch __7:58__, 2-7/8, 2-1/2, 2-3/8, you know sized shafts that are pushed deep into the soil. Well, a pier, as it goes into the ground, is only gonna, you know, it's gonna push the soil away to a certain depth and I would say 15 to 20 ft is about max where the pier is literally moving the soil away from the pier pipe and allow it to be a true in-bearing pier. Once you get over that 21 ft depth, what starts to happen is the friction of the soil starts to get back on to that pier pipe, that concrete cylinder or whatever it is, and that friction from that soil will literally stop that pier at a certain point depending on how stiff that soil is or how wet that soil is. So, in essence, you know, steel piers are driven down to a low-bearing strata that is stronger than the strata that the house is setting on today. Okay, so don't be fooled by that.

9:10 Don Derry

Now, there are places in Kansas City that, you know, you can go 10 ft and you're gonna hit rock every time, there's no doubt about it, it happens all the way down the street. But, there are places in North Kansas City, as you get further up North that it would go 50, 60, 70, 80 ft deep and it's not necessarily that we hit rock all the time, it's that we finally get through all the mushy, junky, ucky, gucky soil that your house has been setting on and that moves all the time and get it all the way down to a good low-bearing strata that is deep into the soil that is going to be there from here on out. So, and there's, you know, there's different types of piering, we're not gonna go into that today, but the purpose of underpinning is to put a house back on stable soil. As a result, underpinning or piering is required to extend the foundation's support to depths that provide greater bearing capacity and/or are less affected by the climate soil conditions or homeowners actions. That's right! You have actions, homeowners. When you don't maintain the gutters in the downspout and you dump all the water right next to the foundation, you are causing foundation damage. You are overwatering the soil which in turn, is causing the soil to become weak and is causing your foundation to settle. That's what happens. That's why I do the Healthy Home show because I'm here to educate you and to give you my knowledge so that you can better take care of your property, and hopefully, you don't have to see me, but if you do, at least you've got somebody that's gonna be honest and upfront and tell you how it's gonna be.

11:05 Don Derry

So, let's talk about that and let's design to keep a house from settling downward any further than where it's at for that day. Okay? So, you know, there are different types of homes so let's talk about. There's slab-on-grade. These are houses that are built right on top of the soil, not a lot of them in Kansas City but there are in certain areas in Kansas City, and wholly in part, the concrete slab is supported directly by the soil and what happens then is that that soil will give way on one side or the other and after taking a set of elevations, you'll find that that side is dropped and place piers underneath that foundation to ensure that it's all, you know, taken care of. So, some of the limitations of repairing the slab-on-grade which people, you know, don't tell you, is that what ends up happening, foundation movement results from seasonal moisture changes, okay? So, if you pier a house on one side, a corner, or you pier around several corners, the foundation in the middle or the slab in the middle of the house can have a tendency to dish or wet or drop and cause settlement in the middle of the structure. Sometimes, when the outer edges get dry, they will tend to settle downward which cause a domain-type effect and that becomes a problem also. It's really shallower soils are also generally the most affected by the seasonal moisture changes.

13:03 Don Derry

If the bearing soil consists of expansive clay soils that are subject to changes and moisture and that's why we talk about making sure that you, you know, keep the gutters and downspouts extended 10 ft away from the house, keep the dirt built up, don't build the flower planters and stuff and hold all the water next to the foundation, that is a no-no. We've talked about that. But that's how you keep that from happening because piers are designed for downward movement only. They are not designed for upward movement which is called heaving and that's usually caused because of poor drainage conditions. So, once again, I'm going right back to talking about drainage and talking about what needs to happen. So, when we talk about, you know, causes of movement, you know, movement, as a result of seasonal moisture changes and during extended periods of dry weather, the expansive supporting soil shrinks causing foundation settlement and during the extended periods of wet weather, the expansive supporting soil swells causing upward movement of the foundation. And usually it's not the whole house, it's usually differential movement, it's parts of the house, okay? So, another thing to look at, you know, some of the expectations of piering and foundation is when you're having your house piered or you're having your house worked on like that, a lot of times, the foundation movement or the slab movement in the center of home is caused by plumbing leaks and plumbing leaks can go undetected for a long period of time especially if you live down in the Brookside area, down in the older areas of Kansas City where we have the cast iron pipes.

15:02 Don Derry

The cast iron pipes will rot in the bottom and so, where they lay in on the soil, they actually rot and then they slowly just keep adding water into that soil which slowly causes that soil to expand and contract and causes that soil to push upward. When it gets really dry again, it causes that soil to really shrink and that's why it's highly recommended that when you do foundation piering, that you have your plumbing lines checked and I can't stress this enough because this is one of those things that, you know, most contractors are gonna overlook, because hey, they don't wanna scare you. They don't want you to not buy their piers because hey, they have to sell piers. You know, we're all trying to sell piers, but let's make sure we fix the problem, you fix the whole problem and not just part of the problem, folks. And drink some of my coffee there. So, when you add too much water to the soil, you cause upheaval and that's what starts to happen when a house moves upwards since additional moisture can cause expansive soils to swell, areas of poor drainage near the foundation can cause the soil under the foundation nearby to swell resulting in upward movement. Now, here's the deal. I've seen this time and time again so let's talk about this. When you have a house that's piered and you spend thousands and thousands of dollars of having that area, you know, underpinned by steel piers, concrete piers, whatever you decide to use but don't use concrete, don't use little steel piers, okay? I didn't say that but I just did.

17:00 Don Derry

So, if we're talking about upheaval and the soil pushing upward because of poor drainage or swelling soil, what happens is the swelling soil can literally cause a push to the supporting piles or piers upward and if they're not designed and constructed to adequately resist the uplift, as a result, the whole house will lift upward again, and then literally, when the soil dries again, it will set the house right back on top of the piers that were installed. I know that sounds kind of funny, but you know, piers are designed for downward movement. They're not designed for upward movement and if you look at some of these piers, I mean, some of them are just a little bracket that looks like a little angle line or something that sets right under the footing so if that footing lifts upward due to expansive soil or due to an enormous amount of water in the soil, it literally will lift that footing up of that pier and some of these piers, I have seen them and they're not very secure, these little 1-foot cylinders that people are putting underneath homes now, but if it lifts that up, that pier can actually move and then when it sets down, it's not the same. And that's why these companies are coming out and shimming and have to dig up things again and put little metal shims in and redo things because these foundations are moving up and down, and especially if don't have a foundation that's deep into the soil and that becomes a big problem.

18:58 Don Derry

And so, you know, when you get that uplift and those piers are there, you know, that's what allows these houses to keep moving back and forth all the time and that's why we don't recommend, you know, when you have a house that's piered and we come in and we pier it, we'll fix it properly, we don't recommend that you keep stick in the soaker hose out there and run it for 30 minutes everyday or three times a day. You do not need to water an area that has been piered already. That's not what we're trying to do because that soil, the foundation's already been stabilized and if you do it and you pier that foundation and you support it, and then you go in and you add a soaker hose and you run water nonstop under it, you're gonna cause that soil to expand and uplift again, and cause major issues. And we talked about water in one of my radio shows and I always recommend that you water from the foundation out 21 ft because remember, you've gotta water the trees so water the trees instead, don't water the areas that have been piered. I've seen houses that have lifted and have actually been higher in elevation when we came back out because they said they ran a soaker hose and they kept watering and watering and watering and I'm like, "No stop!" so, you know, that's a big deal. Another expectations of piering or underpinning is when piers are not pushed down to a proper depth and this is properly one of the biggest problems we have in Kansas City is that the piers supporting many older piering in foundations may not extend below the zone of expansive soil that is affected by the climates.

20:51 Don Derry

Do you guys understand that the University of Oklahoma did a survey on, you know, like a depth of how deep the drying was, I think it was last year, and they went down to a depth of over 18 ft deep, the soil was still dry. Now, that means if a pier was not extended that deep into the soil, that that foundation could still move and that is a huge problem and we're seeing a lot of that in Kansas City where these little tiny concrete cylinders or these little tiny steel cylinders, these 1-ft little cylinders, they're not going deep enough and you know, they'll lock up really quick because of that soil, that soil friction I was talking about earlier in the show, when that piers pushed into the ground that literally, that soil starts to push back onto that pier pipe and cause that pier pipe to lock up, so, they think "Oh wow, we're done" and then they go away, and then a year later, it gets dry and then that soil moves and they're like, "Uh oh, we've got to go out and you know, dig up this house again and fix them" because the piers don't go deep enough, the piers supporting those have to get down below the zone of expansive soil that's affected by the climate and during dry periods, you know, during the periods of dry weather, the shallow piers may not provide sufficient support and that's what starts to happen with a lot of these companies and that's why they go out of business, it's because they're constantly running around having to support and redo all the pier work that they've been doing because they're not going deep enough and that's a beauty of the Ram Jack System.

22:48 Don Derry

And talked about that last week, is that it will go an average of 1 to 3 ft deeper than any other steel pier on the market today, mark my word, you can put our pier next to another pier and it will go deeper every single time and the reason is, is because we drive with dual cylinders. We have two hydraulic cylinders that actually push that pier deep into the soil, not one. A lot of companies are just pushing with one, the big drive something, I mean, they're pushing with one cylinder. You get only 10,000 PSI with that one cylinder. We get over 70,000 pounds of pressure pushing with the Ram Jack Steel Piering System that's why we can break through and get down to that low-bearing strata. Folks, we have well over a million piers in the ground today with less than 1% of ever going back and that's nationwide and we're pretty proud of that. That's why architects and engineers recommend the Ram Jack Steel Piering System versus any other system on the market today, and they know it. That's why we have the ICCES approval, it's called a legacy report, it's called the ESR 1854 and that is an evaluation report. It is in the 2009 code, it is a 2012 code and if you look at all of the other piers on the market today, there's only two in Kansas City that even meet that criteria but yet, people are putting piers underneath their homes that are not meant to be there or don't have the engineering or don't have the background but yet, they've got great advertising, yet they've got great pushy sales people, and yet, they still buy it. And shame on you, homeowner, because you will have to do it again. That is the problem.

24:47 Don Derry

Most piers fail within five years, five years before you even know if there's a problem. There are 10 companies putting one pier underneath the ground right now that literally just was developed less than a year ago and yet, they give a lifetime guarantee and yet, they don't have any testing and yet they don't know if it's gonna last and yet they don't know if it's gonna rot or rust or corrode in, yet they don't know how it's gonna handle, you know, the free stall, the wet-dry cycles, the up and down changes of the Kansas City climate. So, homeowners, do your homework. Listen to these podcasts, whether you do business with KC Waterproofing, the foundation fixer, if you do business with somebody else, at least educate yourself. My phone number is 816-505-9990 so I appreciate if you give me a call if you have a problem. Here's another problem that we see in the Kansas City area and this is from inexperienced sales people evaluating people and that's right, they're sales people, they're not technicians, they went through a three-day, a one-day training course and now they can evaluate foundations with no engineering and that is another problem, folks. And yeah, you'll pay a little bit more for somebody that's experienced but so what? I mean, you want somebody experienced fix in your most important asset of your home and this will cause you more damage, you know, movement outside the area that was underpinned. You know, if only one corner of the foundation is supported piers, only that corner will resist settlement. The rest of the structure is subject to seasonal settlement if the clay shrinks and dries, you know. So, therefore, an area that was originally the low portion of the foundation may now become the high point of the foundation during dry periods.

26:46 Don Derry

It's also possible that cracking will occur at the last pier if the unsupported area settles in resisted on the high point. It is therefore important to carefully evaluate and balance the site risk against future cost when electing to partially underpin a foundation. So, it's very important to not just pier a little part or just that one little corner or to overpier it. So, this is not a cut and dry, this is why you take elevations, this is why you evaluate the structure, this is why you go through the process of making sure. You know, if you would like to know more information about how the expectations of foundation of underpinning, I'd love to send you this full report, it's called Foundation Expectations of Underpinning. I would share it with you, if you'll give me a call or shoot me an email don@kcwaterproofing.com or you can give me call, 816-838-8813. Let me know you heard me on Blog Talk Radio and also, if you do work with us and you mentioned Blog Talk Radio, we'll give you an additional 10% off of your foundation repair. Be sure to call the office at 816-505-990. This is Don Derry with the Healthy Home Show live here in Kansas City. I'm here with my trusty golden retriever, Roxy, at my feet. Everyday, she comes up and lies with me while I do the show. So, she is making sure that your foundation is taken care also. You can also check us out at the web at www.kcwaterproofing.com or you can go in to ramjack.com website and find out more about the Ram Jack Steel Piering System. It's my pleasure to be with you each and every Friday. I hope these shows help you.

28:46 Don Derry

Next week, we're gonna talk about crack repair so I'm sure everybody's got a crack in your foundation, right? Right. You know cracks cause termites to get in your house sills and cause water to get into your house sills and cause mold and mildew, they also cause Radon gas. Folks, this is serious business. That's why I do the Healthy Home Show every Friday at 8 a.m., the 30-minute show. You can give me a call at 310-388-9739 if you'd like to be on the show, my pleasure. I look forward to talk with you. Have a beautiful weekend. Got Rock the Parkway tomorrow in Kansas City, gonna watch my daughter Olivia run the half marathon. Have a wonderful day and thank you so much for joining me.