Foundation Repair – Bottle Jacks Are BAD!

Posted on Posted in General Article

For many people foundation repairs are a necessary evil when they are having settling or heaving problems with their home. Most are not up to speed on the technical aspects of structurally repairing their homes basement or foundation, so they look through the phone book or go online and look for a repair expert in their area. With little knowledge or research a foundation repair contractor is chosen based on price or convenience. This is where problems can start, the lack of knowledge is the enemy of quality workmanship.

Quality foundation repair contractors have years of experience and a host of quality products and employees at their disposal so that they can apply the best solution to your homes unique situation. The bad contractors base their business on price and convenience. They are able to install their pier systems very quickly and inexpensively because they are adapting your situation to their foundation repair solution and equipment. No thought is given to the real factors involved with structurally stabilizing a basement or foundation.

These real world factors include:

            Structural weight

            Structural elevations

            Structural strength of the current foundation

            Pier system capacities

            Synchronized lifting

            Soil properties

            Drainage and water runoff

One of the simplest methods to see if you are receiving a quality foundation repair is to inquire about the equipment to be used on your repair. Many low cost, fly-by-night contractors use simple bottle jacks (car jacks) is drive pier sections into the soil. They will then use these same car jacks in an attempt to stabilize your home. This should throw up a red flag to all homeowners. If the contractor will not spend money on quality, engineer approved equipment they most likely will not repair your home in a quality, engineer approved manner.

While a relatively simple manner to filter out poor installing contractors, it is a good rule of thumb to narrow down your choices. Simply put, bottle jacks are great for temporary support of cars, beams and trailers but when being used for foundation repairs they can cause damage to a homes foundation. Bottle jacks have no pressure gauge to regulate the pressure being applied to a foundation, only a crude mechanical means for adjustment. Bottle jacks have a very small head or saddle, which presses against your foundation when the mechanical pump is depressed. This greatly increases the stress on a foundation causing cracks and possible ruptures in the footing or wall. Increasing the square inches of contact area greatly reduces the applied force on the foundation. Most quality foundation pier systems accomplish this by using a steel bracket with a large surface area for the footing to rest on attached to a specifically designed hydraulic cylinder.

The lack of a pressure gauge is another deficiency of bottle jacks. With now means of measuring the force applied to the foundation there is no way of knowing if the foundation can sustain this force. Quality structural repair systems have a gauge and valve to measure and limit the hydraulic forces applied to your home. When lifting a structure, multiple heavy duty hydraulic cylinders and valve banks are used to complete a synchronized lift. This way the foundation is supported and lifted evenly, as not to apply unequal forces on a structure.

It should now be obvious why engineers and quality foundation repair contractors do not implement bottle jacks to repair your homes foundation. So when you start your research for a foundation repair contractor start with this one easy filter and narrow your choice from there.