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What is Underpinning?

Underpinning your foundation could be a good option if you’re worried about your home sinking. Can JES help you with the process?

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Curious about foundation underpinning? It’s a term you may have heard tossed around by homeowner friends and experts alike, but it’s not always clear what it means. Essentially, underpinning strengthens your foundation and ensures your home’s long-term stability by reinforcing the existing building foundation.

Reasons for Underpinning Your Home:

Determining whether your house needs to be underpinned requires careful observation and assessment. While it’s always best to consult with a professional for a thorough inspection, here are some signs that may indicate the need for underpinning:

  • Visible Foundation Cracks: Cracks in your foundation walls or floors can be a sign of foundation issues. Pay attention to the size, number, and direction of the cracks. Horizontal or stair-step cracks are particularly concerning and may indicate the need for underpinning.
  • Uneven or Sloping Floors: If you notice that your floors are no longer level or have started to slope, it could be a sign of foundation settlement. This is especially true if the slope is significant or has worsened over time.
  • Doors and Windows Misalignment: Difficulty in opening or closing doors and windows, or noticeable gaps and misalignment between frames, could be an indication of foundation movement. As the foundation settles or shifts, it can affect the alignment of these elements.
  • Sagging or Bouncing Floors: If your floors feel spongy, sagging, or have noticeable bounce when walking on them, it may be due to weakened or compromised foundation support. Underpinning can help restore stability and eliminate these issues.
  • Gaps and Spaces: Keep an eye out for gaps between the floor and the wall, especially near the corners of rooms. These gaps can indicate foundation settlement or movement.
  • Cracked or Leaning Chimney: A cracked or leaning chimney is often a visible sign of foundation problems. It’s essential to address this issue promptly to prevent further damage or safety hazards.
  • Plumbing and Drainage Issues: Plumbing problems such as recurring leaks, water pooling around the foundation, or slow drainage can be indicators of foundation issues. When the foundation shifts or settles, it can affect the plumbing system.

If you notice any of these signs or have concerns about your foundation, it’s advisable to consult with a qualified foundation repair professional. They can assess your home, conduct a thorough inspection, and provide expert advice on whether underpinning is necessary to stabilize your foundation. At JES, we offer free foundation inspections to help you understand the condition of your home and determine the best course of action.

There are a couple of other common reasons homeowners choose to underpin their foundation:

  • Poor Initial Construction: If your home was poorly constructed with issues like improper soil compaction or leveling, underpinning can address these problems and improve the foundation’s integrity.
  • Change in Usage: Converting a residence into a business or adding additional stories to your home can increase the load on the foundation. Underpinning ensures the foundation can handle the new usage.

Underpinning and House Leveling

Are you dealing with a sunken home and considering underpinning? It’s important to understand the difference between underpinning and home leveling. Homes that are already unleveled require different types of attention, and tackling the root cause of settling is crucial so that the issue with your home’s foundation does not arise again.

At JES, our expert team provides personalized solutions for your underpinning needs. We can determine if leveling and stabilizing can be done simultaneously or separately. Don’t know what’s causing your home to settle? No worries, it’s a common problem among homeowners. Preparation for house leveling is key to ensuring your home’s safety and stability. Schedule your free inspection with JES today and learn more about how we can help you get the job done right.

Underpinning Options

When it comes to underpinning methods, there are two main options:

Foundation Pilings: Common but disruptive, foundation pilings are installed deep into stable soil using a pile driver. While effective, they can cause damage to landscaping and nearby structures.

Steel Piers: JES recommends steel pier systems like Helical Piers, Push Piers, or Slab Piers. These systems provide strength and stability without the extensive disruption caused by foundation pilings.

What are the Disadvantages of Underpinning?

While underpinning can be an effective solution for foundation issues, it’s important to consider the potential disadvantages associated with the process. Here are some drawbacks to be aware of:

  • Cost: Underpinning can be a significant investment. The cost depends on various factors, including the size of the project, the chosen underpinning method, and the extent of the foundation issues. It’s essential to budget accordingly and consider the long-term benefits when evaluating the cost.
  • Disruption: Underpinning involves excavation and construction work around your home’s foundation. This process can cause disruptions to your daily life, such as noise, dust, and restricted access to certain areas of your property. 
  • Time-Consuming: Underpinning is not a quick fix. It requires careful planning, engineering assessments, obtaining necessary permits, and executing the construction process. Homeowners should have realistic expectations regarding the timeframe involved.
  • Landscaping Impact: Excavation work associated with underpinning can potentially impact your landscaping and outdoor spaces. Trees, shrubs, and other vegetation near the foundation may need to be removed. 

Despite these disadvantages, underpinning remains a valuable solution for addressing foundation issues and ensuring your home’s long-term stability. 


Contact an Expert for More on Underpinning Foundations


Navigating the complexities of foundation underpinning can be challenging. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Contact a JES expert today to schedule a free foundation inspection and discover how underpinning can effectively address your foundation problems. We’ll provide you with personalized information, expert guidance, and even develop a same-day proposal tailored to your specific needs. Take the first step towards a stable and secure foundation by reaching out to us now.

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JES Foundation Repair service area map of the Mid-Atlantic region.

Our Locations

Baltimore

8361 Town Center Ct
Nottingham, MD 21236

Fredericksburg

311 Central Rd.
Suite 2-02
Fredericksburg, VA 22401

Hampton Roads & NE NC

2569 Quality Ct
Virginia Beach, VA 23454

Northern VA & DC

7940 Gainsford Ct.
Bristow, VA 20136

Richmond

309 Quarles Rd
Ashland, VA 23005

Southwest Virginia / Roanoke

2033 Cook Dr.
Salem, VA 24153

Western Virginia

456 Old Courthouse Rd
Appomattox, VA 24522

Winchester

45 W Boscawen St,
Winchester, VA 22601