Pier and Beam Foundations

Pier and beam foundations, also referred to as crawl space foundations, are common in homes that were built prior to the 1970’s, and are widely used still today for a couple of reasons.

Typically this type of construction is less expensive when compared to installing a full basement foundation and used in geographical areas that are not conducive for basement construction. This is due to either shallow rock or high water tables which can limit foundation construction to either pier and beam foundation or concrete slab foundation construction.

Within the pier and beam foundation footprint, there are concrete footing piers and supporting beams which carry the load of the floor joist. Repairs to pier and beam foundations are typically less expensive than foundation repairs to other foundation types.

Pier and Beam Foundation Problems

Pier and beam foundations can settle unevenly over time, particularly in areas of seasonal change where the soil frequently expands and contracts with the moisture content of the soil.

These foundations are considered shallow and typically installed to a depth just below the frost line. This upper layer of soil where the pier and beam foundation bears its load is typically in a more active zone and more susceptible to settlement over time.

The winter can be tough on these types of foundations, to prepare for the winter inspecting foundations is suggested. As spring approaches, watch for frost heave foundation damage to a pier and beam foundation.

Common Signs of Pier & Beam Foundation Issues

  • Cracks in the ceiling. This is the most common sign of pier and beam foundation failings. You should also keep an eye on the walls of both the exterior and interior of your home.
  • Windows and doors that stick
  • Floors that sag, are uneven, or show signs of upheaval

Pier and Beam Foundation Repair Methods at MDTI

For pier and beam foundation repair, there are a few different solutions that we supply our network of installing contractors with, each depending upon the cause and severity of the damage.

First, shoring the existing footing piers and beam foundation is a technique to add more support. Installing helical piers underneath the beams of your foundation will transfer the load from a shallow depth to a more inactive, stable soil at a deeper depth.

Another possibility is leveling the exiting footing piers by adding steel shims between the beams and piers of your foundation. This is usually the quickest and easiest way to level your floor, but is usually only temporary as the soil is still not able to carry the load under the concrete footing pier.