Monday, August 8, 2011

Basement Doctors are in the Building

Many in Ohio have brick houses, we love brick, it never needs painting, but many brick homes have cracks, while other homes have doors and windows that don't close. True orthogonal (three planes meeting at 90 degrees) walls to ceiling are hard to find in Ohio. My front two bedrooms were sinking due to dry clay in summer, and rising due to melting snow and rain in spring. For each season it was up then down, and this caused a stepping movement south while the rest of the house stayed put. I look around and found Basement Doctors. They gave me a good presentation and I believed a fair price. I am an Engineer and I know a little bit about foundations. I know enough to make sure someone else does the work. I place these pics here for homeowners in clay soil, who like me want to know what to do.

The big picture is: three or four big guys come and dig around the foundation, mostly outside, but some inside. They then chip away at the footer to make it square, install helical piers (a long screw driven deep into the clay soil, approximately 25 to 35 feet). They then attach pier to footer brackets and use hydraulic jacks to lift the house some what. It's a skill that must be developed, like getting everyone to smile with eyes open at once. After a careful and skilled lift they then bolt the footer brackets to the piers. House loads are now resting on these piers. Sounds easy but it's a lot of work and yes it's expensive, but what else can a retiree on limited income to do with his savings. Here are the teasers for day 1, there are two more days to go. Will take some each day. If you have question, then ask. See first pic for their phone number.
Dustin, Steve and Can

Before Picture

Door Wall moving south

Lee said there are always two cracks, maybe more.

Steve with bracket

Head Supervisor Lee, and Second Supervisor Can

Back hoe in motion

Can with crawl space driver

Outside driver and helical piers and extensions

In crawl driving a pier.

South wall, hydraulic lines for crawl driver
Day 2 with Basement Doctors, August 9, 2011
Lee with his driver
Shane, the real man on the driver

Helical Piers

Steve working on bracket space

Driving extension tubes and helical pier, Approximate 27 feet deep

James setting bracket and jack lifts

Today's crew, James Steve, Lee, and Shane

Lee who always smiles for his clients, now what about Valarie?
Day 3 with Basement Doctors, August 10, 2011
Jack being readied for lift

3 of the 5 lift jack being supplied by same manifold via one hydraulic pump

Laser Level, Lee's favorite toy

Lee marking before lift using laser level

Last bracket with laser level.

Laser mark versus Sharpy mark, moving upward

Hydraulic pump used for 5 jack lifts at once 

Jack under pressure

Lee and Can slowly squeezing 5 jacks and footers are moving

Majority of gap size decrease

1/4 inch movement on southwest corner, 1/2 inch movement on southeast corner. The real purpose is to stop footer sinking, not get it back to original.
James, Lee, and Can, all done.
Can Pic for Wife

James, father of twins, soon to be groom

Well that's day 1-3. Want to review some lessons learned, will be adding to this later this week, need to got to Pittsburgh now. All pics are on snap fish. Click this link to see more Basement Doctor Photographs

Well its now August 11, 2011, if you came this far and your not related then here are some lessons learned.. I do this because this was expensive and there are many who can take advantage.

Always get as many estimate as possible. I really learned what was going on by asking many question to the many vendors. With each vendor I always had new questions, but my knowledge bank increased. Basement Doctors answered my question, but my question base came from other quotes.

Always go with fixed price. Some vendors would sell you 21 feet of base pier length at fix torque value, then say oh its $40/foot if we need more, guess what they will always we need more.

Be careful if the bid is too good. Very low bids are a tell that something is wrong.

Always stipulate what is the final torque values on their driver. This pressure must be converted to torque based on the driver specifics. You can see the supply pressure on the driver hydraulic hoses, but good luck finding the conversion factor. Diving these piers is also a skill related to stones or other debris being in pier's pathway. I really left it up to Lee. I did see the pressure gauge spike up when he hit a rock or something.

Remember that the diameter of the helical blade for each starter pier is holding the load, if its narrow then, less load can be hold and  it can be driven deeper, hence more extension lengths are needed, costing more. See bullet above about fixed price above. Get helical blade diameters on contract.

Round piers are always better than square piers, their stronger.

Always go with galvanized piers and brackets versus painted to just plane (Lee calls the black) metal.  Metal rusts and if you look, one will find many spent and rusting bracket pics.

Always run a BBB check against the company. Note that some have negative results with this so called acceptable BBB recommendation. They only look at complaints and if these are rectified.

Well that's about it for now. As time progress I may add more or revises these. If you want more or just want to talk, then call or e-mail. A home is a place were family is kept. To make an investment like this takes time to make. Weight your options. If you want to pass that house along or sell it, then a repair sooner as later is always better.  Love ya Pete

1 comment:

  1. thank you very informative. my dad was from Ohio originally and when we had a foundation problem in our home in Hawaii he fixed it the same way by using a hydraulic jack to lift the corner that was cracking away. this was in the 1950's. Now I understand. Thanks again. when we sold the house 5 years ago one of the prospective buyers came by and said "this looks like an Ohio home".