Are you building or renovating a house and you need to raise it above ground level? Did you pier and beam the foundation of your home and need to make repairs? How is this type of foundation constructed and what are the common problems associated with them? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using peer and beam for your home foundation?
Home construction or improvement
The foundation of a building is very crucial and it should be strong enough to withstand the weight of the house. Pier and beam foundation dates back and is known as the most solid and durable foundation. It allows room to create a basement or crawl space. This foundation is made using wood and it might deteriorate over time. The support provided is shallow due to substantial soil movements. As the soil moves, the structure becomes slanted and distorted. If a problem is encountered in the crawl space, it is important to make repairs to solve the issue.
How to install pier and beam foundation
- A wooden pier, cedar is mostly used, is pushed into the ground until it hits a solid rock.
- To prevent the pier from moving, a concrete base is added.
- Beams are extended from each pier connecting to the joists of the building.
- The floor is set above the beams.
Advantages of pier and beam
- Temperature control.
If the climate is hot, the space underneath your home provides ventilation to regulate the heat, making your home cooler. Space can be insulated during cold climates, saving you the heating costs by making your house warmer.
- Easy access.
Accessing wires or pipes during electrical or plumbing repairs is easy. This is because space is left underneath the house.
- Relocation is possible.
A pier and a beam house can be relocated by lifting and loading them into a specially-designed truck.
A problem is localized to an individual pier and beam. It is easier to repair a single part of the foundation compared to replacing the whole of it.
Downsides of pier and beam
- When the weather drops below freezing, the moisture accumulated under your home may cause serious damage if it freezes. The insulation can be saturated with water which can freeze too.
- Water can accumulate beneath the pier and beam and you won’t easily notice because this space is rarely used. If left unchecked for long, it may lead to mold growth and destruction of the structure.
- Rodents and bugs may live under the crawl space and with time, they may spread throughout your house.
In what situation should you consider this type of foundation?
- When flooding is a potential problem. The height of the house can be adjusted and the house can be raised further above ground. This protects you from floods due to space beneath.
- When the soil expands and contracts regularly in the construction site. Pier and beam foundations are more flexible compared to the concrete slab foundation.
- When land at the construction site is uneven or a slope. A uniform platform can be created since you can adjust the height of your home.
Common problems associated with this type of foundation
- Wooden beams can be damaged.
Excessive moisture or insect infestation damages the wood causing it to decay over time hence unstable. This affects the foundation of the structure and repair is needed. Replacement of wood with steel is recommended.
- Poor drainage system.
If the drainage system is poor, excessive moisture is created inside the crawl space causing more damage to the structure.
- Shim failure issues.
If inferior material like plywood is used, the structure may break from the inside causing more damage to your home. You should replace the shim with standard material like steel.
- Pier collapse.
The pier may collapse, sink into the ground or lean on one side. This will cause your foundation to be uneven leading to cracks. This can also damage the beams. Shimming can help to stabilize and prevent further damage.
- Shifting beams.
If the beams are unstable, they may shift and the floor may sag. You need to install foundation support, shims, or a new pier to solve the problem.
- Presence of mold or mildew.
This indicates that your foundation is moisture damaged. If the beam is damaged with mold internally, you cannot save your structure by just removing the mold.
The pier and beam foundation is common in older homes and places with the uneven landscape. It has a lot of advantages; however, they have a few drawbacks like they can’t resist soil transfer hence they get damaged over time. There are certain common problems associated with this type of foundation and it is important to look into them to prevent damaging your property further. Look for an experienced foundation repair company, if you need to repair the pier and beam foundation of your home.