How to Repair a Pier and Beam Foundation (Common Methods & Equipment Used)

November 21, 2022

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If it’s time for pier and beam foundation repair, it’s vital that you turn to experienced professionals! As with basements and slabs, the quality of pier and beam repairs depends quite a bit on your chosen contractor. Also, an experienced crew spots damage that amateurs or DIYers might overlook easily.

On the other hand, property owners find it helpful to know something about pier and beam foundation repair methods. Basic knowledge of this foundation’s construction and repair methods helps you choose the best option for your structure.  For this reason and more, check out some important details about how to repair a pier and beam foundation.

how to repair pier and beam foundation

How to Repair Pier and Beam Foundation

First, note how pier and beam foundations are constructed, to begin with. Second, remember that repair methods depend on the damage extent and foundation materials.

Pier and beam foundations consist of long beams attached to a structure’s underside. These beams then attach to piers or columns sunk into the ground. In turn, a pier and beam structure typically sits several feet off the ground. That gap between the ground and the structure above is called a crawl space.

Foundation contractors might use concrete block piers or pour concrete cylinders. Also, some use steel piers, which provide added support. Additionally, beam materials include solid wood or metal. With this in mind, check out some details about these foundation repair methods:

  • In some cases, a contractor might install new piers under the structure. Next, he or she attaches these to the beams. Lastly, he or she might remove old, damaged piers.
  • A contractor might add new sill beams. These run across the structure’s underside, supporting the floor above. New beams support a structure and give strength to interior floors.
  • Installing new floor joists along a structure’s underside also supports interior floors. Those joists run perpendicular to beams. In turn, adding new beams and joists, or just one or the other, means a strong, solid foundation.
  • Shims are wedge-shaped wood pieces between piers and beams. These shims help float a structure back to a level and even position. Additionally, they provide added support for the property.

Do Pier and Beam Homes Have Foundation Issues?

Any home can have foundation issues, no matter its construction and age. Over time, piers and beams absorb moisture trapped in the crawl space. In turn, they might rust, rot, chip, crack, and otherwise suffer costly damage. Materials also tend to break down simply due to age!

Additionally, termites and carpenter ants can chew through wood piers and beams. Also, poor-quality installation often means premature foundation damage no matter its construction. Lastly, adding weight to a home, flooding, and other outside factors can weaken a foundation.

Reinforcing a Post and Pier Foundation

A property owner can take several steps to reinforce a post and pier foundation. First, consider encapsulation or a vapor barrier installation to keep out moisture. Second, ask a contractor about installing new piers before the current ones crack and sag!

Also, ensure you address drainage issues around the property. A French drain installation traps moisture under the soil and redirects it away from the structure. Dehumidifiers also remove moisture in the crawl space. Your foundation repair contractor can offer more tips for keeping your property’s foundation strong.

How Long Does a Pier and Beam Foundation Last?

A high-quality pier and beam foundation might last some 75 years! Factors affecting its lifespan include moisture in the crawl space and drainage around the property. Contractors often consider moisture the #1 enemy of pier and beam foundations, as said. In turn, improper drainage can cut years off the foundation’s lifespan.

Also, note that a weak foundation suffers more damage the longer you ignore needed fixes. Weak foundations can’t hold a structure’s weight. Consequently, it’s vital that you address cracks or sagging piers quickly. Putting off those fixes also shortens a foundation lifespan, sometimes by years, if not decades!

pier and beam foundation with a vapor barrier

How Do You Fix a Sinking Pier Foundation?

Replacing sinking piers offers an excellent solution for sinking and other damage. New concrete or steel piers help float a structure back into position. Also, new piers offer added strength for your home or commercial structure. Additionally, you might add shims and new beams or joists where needed.

In some cases, contractors might also suggest fixing the soil around the foundation. Overly moist or dry soil often shifts excessively, putting pressure on those piers. Compacting the soil or adding clay can keep it strong and dry.

How to Enclose Pier and Beam Foundation

The most common way to enclose pier and beam foundations is by adding a barrier around the perimeter of the foundation. This barrier can be anything from a concrete wall to chain-link fencing. If you use a concrete wall, you must hire a professional contractor to pour and finish the wall properly.

Or, you may opt for precast walls, which are readymade and easy to assemble around your foundation. Once your fence is in place, you must waterproof the area to protect your foundation from moisture damage. Waterproofing is done by installing a waterproof membrane inside the wall or a vapor barrier outside it.

To finish the enclosure of your pier and beam foundation, you will need to fill in all the gaps by installing insulation, such as foam boards or fiberglass batting. Once in place, these materials will help to keep your foundation well-insulated and prevent drafts from entering the area.

Finally, add a final layer of protection for your pier and beam foundation by installing a cap on top of the wall with concrete or metal.

You’ll have an enclosed pier and beam foundation protected against moisture damage and drafts. Always consult with a professional contractor before embarking on any significant foundation work.

crawl space encapsulation after pier and beam foundation repair

Signs You Need Pier and Beam Foundation Repair

Regular inspections are an excellent investment for property owners. A contractor can spot weaknesses and develop damage quickly before it becomes extensive and costly. However, note some indicators of foundation damage you might also notice around your property:

  • As a foundation sags, it creates cracks along the inside and outside walls and interior ceilings.
  • Additionally, sagging floorboards can mean squeaking, creaking, groaning, and similar sounds.
  • That sagging floor can also feel soft and spongy underfoot. You might also notice floor tiles pulling away from their adhesive.
  • A sagging foundation often means cracks that let in moisture. In turn, you might notice damp concrete floors or mildew under carpeting.
  • Moisture coming in through damaged floorboards also results in musty odors, especially underneath carpeting.
  • Property owners should avoid going into a crawl space if they suspect foundation damage. However, you can stay a safe distance and look for sagging piers, chipped concrete, and other visible issues.
  • Inside your structure, look for anything that indicates an uneven structure. This can include warped floorboards, sticking doors and windows, and shelves that sink along one side.

Grand Rapids Foundation Repair Pros is happy to provide this information about pier and beam foundation methods. Hopefully, it’s been helpful to our readers! If you’re in need of expert services, call our Grand Rapids foundation repair contractors. We offer durable, reliable repairs backed by a full guarantee. Additionally, we start every project with a FREE inspection. For more information, give us a call today.


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