If you’ve had home foundation problems, you may have heard the terms slab-jacking and piering. As with any term that involves someone doing something to our home, these terms sound intimidating – and expensive – if you don’t know what the contractor is talking about.
It starts with a crack, either on the outside of your home or on the inside. Or maybe your doors and windows aren’t shutting properly, or your floor has become unlevel. These are all signs of a home foundation problem – which is probably what started the conversation.
Slab-jacking and piering are two ways that home foundation repair specialists can fix a foundation issue. They’re used at different times in different ways, and which one is used for your home depends on a few factors.
Why These Solutions Are Used
The most common reason you would need slab jacking or piering is because the foundation of your home isn’t level.
An unlevel foundation for a home can damage your house because it can put too much pressure on parts of your house that weren’t designed for it. One major result that can happen is structural failure that can be extraordinarily expensive to fix (your house can literally fall in).
Even if your home is still standing, you’ll have uneven floors, doors and windows that won’t shut properly, cracks and fissures on the inside and outside of your home, and other damage that is just as much structural as it is cosmetic.
Slab jacking and piering are designed to level out your foundation so that your home as a whole can sit on a nice, firm, solid surface.
Slab Jacking Explained
Since your foundation is underneath your home, you have two options if you want to fix it: lift or move the house, or work beneath it.
Lifting a home is more expensive and challenging than either slab jacking or piering, so most people choose one of the latter two options first. Slab jacking is a method of working beneath the home to level the foundation without having to lift the house or excavate all around it.
One reason your home may not be level is because shifting soil conditions that create voids beneath the foundation (this is sometimes caused by too much moisture that isn’t properly drained away from the foundation). Those voids may cause cracks in the foundation due to the weight of the home not being supported properly. The foundation may also shift and move up and down due to shrinking and expanding soil caused by changes in weather patterns.
Slab jacking works to correct this by drilling holes beneath the foundation and pumping mud (really a mixture of cement, soil, and water) into them until the foundation is level. The mud fills the gaps and helps provide even stability for the foundation.
Note that slab jacking isn’t a long-term or permanent fix. It’ll certainly help over the short or medium term, and you may be able to get away with slab jacking just once, but chances are, a more permanent solution may be necessary at some point.
One such solution is called piering.
Piering is the process of placing steel pilings beneath the foundation, then raising them hydraulically until the foundation is level. What happens is your home is lifted off the original foundation, with the piers forming a new, second foundation.
To get beneath the foundation, your contractor will have to excavate all around the home, so this procedure is a lot more invasive – and expensive.
The upside, though, is that piering is a permanent solution. You won’t have to do it again if it’s done right the first time, not unless something dramatic happens to the earth above which your home sits (and if that happens, you have bigger problems to worry about).
Of course, your home may not need slab jacking or piering at all. There could be a cheaper, simpler fix. But the only way to find out is to talk to a home foundation repair professional and have them assess your foundation problems.
Southern Home Structural Specialists are foundation repair specialists who have the experience and skill to diagnose and repair foundation problems. Contact us for an evaluation of your home, or read testimonials from satisfied customers.