Steel Piering for Foundation Repair for the Property Owners

Updated March 20th, 2024

As property owners, ensuring the structural integrity of our homes is paramount to safeguarding our investments and providing a secure living environment. One critical aspect of maintaining a sturdy foundation is addressing any issues that may arise over time. Foundation repair becomes imperative when signs of deterioration, settling, or shifting become apparent. Among the various methods employed to stabilize and reinforce foundations, steel piering stands out as a reliable and effective solution.

In this guide, we will understand foundation repair with a specific focus on the benefits and intricacies of steel piering. Whether you’re struggling with foundation problems or aiming to proactively enhance the stability of your property, understanding the role of steel piering in foundation repair is crucial.

This article will help you understand:

  • What is steel piering?
  • Different types of steel piers and
  • Pros and cons of steel piering.

What is Steel Piering?

In steel piering, structural elements called steel piers are drilled into the soil to support the weight-bearing foundation walls. Steel piers are slender rods made up of high-carbon steel. Some steel piers have helical plates attached to them, which allow them to advance through the soil. Piers are installed deep in the ground until they reach the stable layer of soil or bedrock. They stabilize the foundation of your home by supporting its foundation walls.

Why Should You Choose Steel Piers for Foundation Repair?

Steel piers are often used to repair foundation issues without lifting the house. They bear the weight of your home. Steel piers can reach more depth as compared to concrete piers and, in this way, provide higher stability. Therefore, steel piers are a good option as compared to concrete piers.

You have to consider the underlying factors to determine whether the steel piers are the right choice or not.

  • Soil Conditions: Steel piers are suitable for challenging soils.
  • Budget: Despite having a high installation cost, they are cost-effective in the long run.
  • Time Limit: Steel piers can be installed efficiently and quickly.
  • Ecofriendliness: Steel piering causes minimum environmental disruption.

Types of Steel Piers

A foundation pier’s type depends on the property and environment in which it is located. There are many types of concrete and steel piers to choose from, however. Here are some of the most common types of foundation piers used in buildings and structures today. The type of pier you choose depends upon the following:

  • The size of your property
  • Condition of your foundation
  • Soil type

Straight Steel Piers:

Straight steel piers are driven into the ground up to weathered shale or bedrock. They can reach a depth of 22-70 feet under the soil and provide excellent support to your foundation.

Helical Steel Piers

Helical steel piers have one or more helical plates attached to one end. They can be driven into the soil to any depth greater than 15 feet. When drilled into the ground, they can reach weathered shale or bedrock. Helical steel piers ensure minimum landscape disruption. They are the best option for:

  • Supporting lightweight foundations such as pier and beam foundations.
  • Lifting concrete foundations with inadequate beams.

How Do You Install Steel Piers?

You need to hire professionals to install steel piers to support your foundation. Professionals follow the underlying steps for steel piering.

Step 1: Preparing the foundation:

Excavate the ground surrounding the foundation and mount the foundation bracket for installing piers.

Step 2: Seel Pier Installation:

Use a hydraulic pump to advance steel piers into the soil. The installation continues until the pier reaches a stable support such as rocks.

Step 3: Preparation for Shifting the Load:

Place the lifting head assembles and hydraulic lifting rams on the piers. Connect the rams to the hydraulic pumps.

Step 4: Shifting the Load:

Following this step, shift the load of the foundation to the steel piers. The foundation is lifted to its pre-damage position.

Pros and Cons of Steel Piering

Although concrete piering is a commonly employed method for repairing a foundation, most foundation repair companies now recommend steel piers. Let’s shed some light on the pros and cons of steel piering.

Benefits of Installing Steel Piers

There are numerous benefits of steel piers. Some of them are presented below:

1. Installation Ease

The foremost benefit of steel piers is that their installation is quite convenient. Steel piers can be installed easily with minimum excavation, unlike concrete piers, which require:

  • Extensive excavation, and
  • Increased curing time.

In other words, steel piering is a robust and efficient process.

2. Minimum Disruption to Landscape

Compared to concrete pier installation, noise generation, and vibrations are minimal in steel pier installation. Due to this reason, steel piers are a preferred choice in urban areas.

3. High Weight-Bearing Capacity

Steel piers can bear high loads due to the following reasons:

  • Helical piers have helical plates attached at one end.
  • Steel piers can penetrate deep into the soil.

Due to this ability, steel piers are quite suitable for regions having unstable soil.

4. Adaptability

Steel piers can be installed in almost all soil types. They are versatile and, therefore, used for repairing different types of foundations in different regions.

5. No Curing Time

Steel piering needs no curing time. The weight is shifted to the piers soon after installation, unlike concrete piering, which takes time to cure. Consequently, the construction time is reduced.

Drawbacks of Installing Steel Piers

Some disadvantages of steel piering are as follows:

1. Expensive

Steel piers are more costly than concrete piers. Although high installation cost is a potential drawback of steel piers, they are a pocket-friendly option in the long run due to:

  • Reduced labor requirements.
  • Ease of installation.
  • Low maintenance costs.

2. Susceptibility to Corrosion

The National Bureau of Standards suggests that steel piers are exposed to corrosion, especially in environments with high moisture content. Although rusty piers have no immediate effect on the structural integrity of your home, they can gradually destroy the foundation by causing serious problems. You can avoid corrosion by:

  • Purchasing galvanized steel piers
  • Proper maintenance

3. Limited Customization Options

Although many foundation repair experts prefer steel piers over concrete ones, the former has limited designs and customization options. Therefore, if you pay special attention to aesthetics, you need to explore a lot to find the design of your choice.

Is Steel Pier Foundation Repair Right for Your Property?

In order to determine whether a steel pier system is the right choice for your construction project, you must consider the following factors:

  • Soil Conditions: Steel piers can provide a reliable solution if your site has unstable or challenging soil conditions.
  • Project Timeline: Steel piers’ quick installation can expedite the construction process and minimize delays.
  • Budget: Steel piers may be more expensive up front, but they can save labor and construction time in the long run.
  • Environmental Considerations: Steel can be recycled, and the installation process can be minimized, so you might be interested if eco-friendliness is a priority for you.
  • Aesthetic Preferences: Consider how steel piers can be incorporated into the overall design of your property’s project if aesthetics are crucial.

Conclusion

Most professionals prefer steel piering for repairing foundations over concrete piering. Steel piers are of two types: straight steel piers and helical steel piers. Helical piers provide more support as compared to straight steel piers. Experts install a steel pier by excavating the surrounding soil, drilling through a hydraulic pump, and then advancing the pier into the soil. Unfortunately, it is supported with a foundation bracket. Some benefits of steel piering include easy installation, versatility, and high load-bearing ability.

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