Caring For a Pier and Beam Foundation

January 25, 2014 Melanie Chaney

Before the 1960s, one of the most popular types of home foundations was the pier-and-beam. In fact, it’s still prominent in many of San Antonio’s historic neighborhoods and cottage districts. While they’re not used as commonly today, pier-and-beam foundations do have some advantages over slabs, mainly because of the crawl space. A few of these advantages include:

· Easy access to mechanical issues such as plumbing or electricity

· If well-crafted, pier-and-beam foundations tend to have fewer issues and less expensive repairs than slab foundations

· Earlier detection of termite damage since the insects must navigate through the crawl space to reach the wood

While the crawl spaces found in pier-and-beam foundations do offer the above advantages, they’re not without problems. The most common problems are moisture-related. With heavy rains in South Texas, water can accumulate under the house and, unless there is sufficient drainage, cause all sorts of issues that weaken and sink the foundation over time. Other common problems with pier-and-beam foundations are simply due to design and pier placement. If the beams are not properly spaced, the weight becomes too heavy and sagging occurs. Additional crawl space concerns include:

· Mold

· Higher electricity bills due to poor ventilation

· Rotting wood

· Creaking floors

· Gaps between the posts and beams, weakening the support

These problems are why it’s essential to properly care for pier-and-beam foundations. How? Baird Foundation Repair recommends CleanSpace crawl space encapsulation. This is a four-step process that can address the most common crawl space issues by isolating the home from the earth. The process consists of:

· Installing an interior drainage system to handle groundwater and prevent moisture buildup

· Sealing up all the crawl space walls and floors

· Sealing off any air leaks

· Installing a dehumidifier to reduce the opportunity for mold growth

In some cases, you may notice that damage has already occurred. Some signs of damage in pier-and-beam foundations include:

· Sagging or “bouncy” floors above the crawl space

· Gaps between the floor and interior walls

· Cracks in the interior drywall

· Unleveled door frames

If damage is already present, there are solutions for repairing pier-and-beam foundations that are relatively fast, cost effective (financing available) and fix the problem permanently. For instance, at Baird Foundation Repair, we replace any rotting or sinking posts with 10-inch reinforced steel concrete posts. These weather-resistant posts are installed at a deeper soil level for secure stabilization.

To determine which solution is right for your home’s foundation, a professional should assess the type and degree of damage, the size and accessibility of the crawl space, and the area in which the damage is occurring. Repairs to pier-and-beam foundations are one of our specialties. Contact us at 210-534-4110.