Many older home builders will tell you that the pier and beam foundation is the superior choice for a foundation. This is because the pier and beam foundation can stand up to more movement than the slab foundation. In addition, the pier and beam foundation is easier to repair and more solid when it has to be fixed. Some pier and beam foundations found dating back to 1910 are still being repaired and renovated to like new condition.
Signs Of Need For Pier And Beam Problems:
· Interior or exterior wall cracks
· Uneven or sagging floors
· Cracks in ceiling
· Sticking doors and windows
The Causes Of Pier And Beam Problems Can Be Broken Down Into Three Areas
The first form of damage is wood such as; broken, cracked or warped floor joists or beams, wood rot or insect damage and rotten sill plates. You can also discover water or moisture damage. This can include improper drainage under the house, improper ventilation under home, standing water, pier movement due to seasonal soil moisture, and pad and block inundated by water. Finally, builder or homeowner miscalculation also happens causing inadequate number of piers, shallow piers, defective shimming, and addition of second story with no additional pier supports.
Pier And Beam Support Functions
Pier and beam houses are houses that have a crawl space, which is the space between the floor and the ground. The pier is the concrete that goes into the ground and bears the weight of the building on foundation beams of wood. All foundations can have problems in clay soil. Some people feel that with pressure treated wood and metal brackets and straps for setting beams, this foundation type is stronger than ever. The footing for the pier does best in well-drained or evenly moist soil with a well-ventilated crawl-space. The number of piers is calculated to best bear the weight of the house. There are some pier and beam structures that also involve a concrete perimeter grade beam.
Problems With Pier And Beam Structures
There are those who criticize the pier and beam structure, and these are their objections. One reason given is compared to concrete’s cleanliness, wood is susceptible to rot and insect damage, therefore, it is imperative to prevent ground to wood contact, wherever possible. Another reason is pier and beam structures may be poorly spaced and the lumber, due to its nature, may be poorly shaped and spaced, allowing for dipping or bowing of floors. Concrete and steel are more uniform.
Typical Repairs You’ll See To Foundations
Concrete Perimeter Beam: If the home does involve a concrete perimeter beam, some easy repairs can be made by lifting the home and using pressed pilings for leveling.
Wood Replacement: As mentioned earlier, often wood in the crawl space rots due to moisture and must be replaced. There can also be insect damage. At times whole beams need replacement.
Interior Floor Levels: Floor levels are adjusted using metal shims. However at times shifting is major enough to require addition of extra piers. This is particularly true if error has been made in judging the number of piers needed for the house or addition supports.
Ventilation improvement: If rotting or other moisture damage is observed, ventilation should be improved in the crawl space. The same is true if mold or fungus growth is observed.
Often what looks like a major repair turns out to be a modest adjustment. Obtaining several estimates before beginning work is a wise move with pier and beam repairs. All work performed should be warrantied for at least a year after work is done.