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The Texas Guide to Pier and Beam Foundation Repair

Are you a Texas homeowner looking for more information about pier and beam foundation repair? If so, you’ve come to the right place! In this guide, we’ll outline what you need to know to determine whether your home is suffering from foundation damage. We’ll also discuss the pros and cons of pier and beam foundations, what causes foundation problems, pier and beam repair options, and more.   

What Is a Pier and Beam Foundation?

A pier and beam foundation is a type of foundation that is commonly used in residential construction. It consists of a series of support posts located beneath the home. Wooden beams and joists sit on top of the support posts, creating a raised platform for the house.  

Pros and Cons of a Pier and Beam Foundation

Pros

One of the biggest advantages of a pier and beam foundation is that it provides easy access to the home’s electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems for repairs and maintenance. 

When the area under the house is enclosed with walls, it becomes a crawl space foundation. When encapsulated, a crawl space can be used for storing things like tools and holiday decorations. We’ll talk more about crawl space encapsulation below. 

Another pro of pier and beam foundations is that they’re typically better at protecting the home from flooding than other types of foundations. This is because the home is elevated off the ground. 

Cons

One of the biggest downsides to pier and beam foundations is that they can be susceptible to moisture damage. This can cause the wooden support structures to rot and weaken, affecting the home’s structural integrity. 

Pier and beam foundations can also be vulnerable to pest infestations. Termites and other wood-destroying insects can easily enter the wooden supports and cause damage.   

Common Problems with Pier and Beam Foundations

When it comes to pier and beam foundations, there are a few common issues that tend to pop up. These include the following: 

Settled Support Posts

Suppose poor drainage around the foundation causes the soil to be soggy. In that case, the support posts holding up the house can settle into the ground and become non-vertical, weakening the foundation’s structural integrity. 

Deteriorated Support Structures

Another issue that can arise is damage from wood rot or wood-eating pests. Over time, the wooden support structures (posts, beams, and joists) can deteriorate and become less capable of supporting the house’s weight. This is particularly common in areas with high moisture, as the damp conditions can attract pests and accelerate the process of decay. 

Differential Foundation Settlement

“Differential foundation settlement” is a fancy way of saying a building is settling unevenly into the ground. This happens because buildings are heavy and push down on the soil beneath them. Over time, the soil can shift or compress in different areas, causing the building to settle more in some spots than others. The best way to explain differential foundation settlement is via an illustration: 

stair step crack in brick wall

Hydrostatic Pressure

Poor drainage around a foundation can cause hydrostatic pressure to build up and push against foundation walls. If this pressure isn’t relieved, one or more foundation walls could bow inward and even crack.  

The good news is that regular maintenance and inspections can go a long way in preventing these types of problems. For example, if you notice any signs of settling or sagging in your foundation, it’s important to have them checked out by a foundation repair professional as soon as possible. Similarly, keeping an eye out for signs of wood rot or pest damage and addressing them promptly can help ensure your foundation remains in good condition for years to come. 

For more information, see Why Your Texas Home’s Pier and Beam Foundation Moves

Pier and Beam Foundations: Possible Repair Options

The chosen repair option will naturally depend on the problem. Here are a few possible solutions: 

Improve Drainage and Replace the Support Posts

If the problem is non-vertical support posts due to soggy soil, the solution might be to fix the drainage problem and then either replace the support posts or install adjustable screw jacks. This can help stabilize the foundation and prevent further settling.   

Adding Support to Damaged Beams or Joists

If you’re dealing with deteriorated beams or joists, adding support to these areas can help strengthen the foundation overall.  

Repairing a Damaged Foundation Wall

If hydrostatic pressure has caused damage to a foundation wall, carbon fiber straps can be used to stabilize the wall and prevent further damage. Of course, the drainage problem will also need to be fixed. 

Underpinning 

If the problem is differential settlement, underpinning may be necessary. This involves placing additional support below the existing foundation to stabilize it. Underpinning is a more complex and expensive repair solution compared to simply replacing support posts or using screw jacks. 

For more information, see 6 Common Warning Signs Your Home May Need Foundational Repair

How to Help Prevent Problems With Your Pier and Beam Foundation 

The good news is that you can take a few simple steps to help keep your foundation in tip-top shape. These include: 

  • Regrade your yard – This means sloping the ground away from the house so that rainwater can flow downhill, rather than pooling and potentially seeping into the foundation. 
  • Install downspout extensions – These little gadgets attach to your downspouts and help direct water away from your foundation. Keeping rainwater away from the foundation can reduce the risk of hydrostatic pressure, moisture damage, and foundation cracks. 
  • Clean gutters regularly – Clogged gutters can cause water to overflow and run straight down the side of your house, soaking the ground around the foundation.   
  • Install a drain tile system – This is essentially a network of buried drainage pipes installed around the foundation at the footing level to help drain excess groundwater away. While it’s a bit more involved than some of the other tips, it can also be a really effective way to keep the soil around your foundation dry. 
  • Keep trees away from the foundation – Tree roots can grow deep and wide – and if they start to invade the ground under your foundation, they can cause all sorts of damage. So, if you’re planting trees on your property, make sure to keep them at least 50 feet away from your house. 
overflowing gutters

If You Have a Crawl Space Foundation, Consider Encapsulation

If your pier and beam foundation is of the crawl space variety, encapsulation is a great way to ensure the area under your home stays clean and dry.  

Crawl space encapsulation is the process of sealing off your home’s crawl space from moisture and outside air. This is important because a damp and moldy crawl space can lead to all sorts of problems such as wood rot, pest infestations, and even indoor air quality issues. 

The process of encapsulation involves a few key steps. First, any standing water or potential moisture sources are addressed. Then, the vents are sealed and the crawl space floor and walls covered with a thick vapor-retarding barrier to prevent any moisture from seeping into the area. 

Finally, a dehumidifier is often installed to keep the humidity level low and prevent any moisture buildup. This step is especially vital in humid climates or homes near water sources. 

Overall, crawl space encapsulation can have a big impact on your home’s health and safety, as well as your energy bills. So, if you’re experiencing any issues with your crawl space, it’s definitely worth looking into encapsulation as a solution. 

If you’re concerned your Texas home might need pier and beam foundation repair, contact us today to schedule a free foundation inspection. If we find a problem, we’ll provide you with a repair estimate!  

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