Originally posted 5/21/20, updated 8/6/21
Many homeowners find themselves dealing with a sagging floor. I think a lot of us actually equate it to being “normal” for an older home. But if you’re reading this, you probably know a sagging floor is a sign of structural issues, and it’s in your best interest to address it quickly.
The most common causes of a sagging floor are a failing center floor beam or weakening floor joists. If you would like more information on the causes of sagging floors, we have an article that reviews these in detail. If you’d like to familiarize yourself with the traditional repair methods, you can find that info on our blog.
But I suspect you’re here because you know what you need; you just aren’t thrilled by the limited options and the equally limited warranties you’ve encountered in your research.
Acculevel excels at installing both floor jacks and helical piers. We have been repairing foundations since 1996, and over the years we have encountered a wide range of structural issues and developed solutions for all of them.
It may seem like an unlikely combination, but in the right circumstances, jacks and piers can be just what you as a homeowner need. We’ll begin with a brief overview of adjustable jacks, explain why they have a limited warranty, and then explore how helical piers can resolve this.
How Adjustable Jacks Are Used
Depending on how severely damaged your center beam is, you may need to add support to it or replace it. In either case, you will need adjustable floor jacks under the beam. These jacks are placed along the beam, to support the flooring and gradually raise it.
The lifting process is slow and steady. The wood of the flooring structure has a sort of memory within it, that resists being “bent back” into position. Attempting to force it can actually cause more harm to your floor structure. Instead of trying to force the beam in a single movement, the jacks are gradually adjusted over time, coaxing it back up towards level.
This photo was taken by an Acculevel crew member after installation. This is a floor jack installed in a crawl space.
The warranty coverage on adjustable jack installations will vary by contractor, as we explain in our blog about lifetime and service warranties. At Acculevel, we cover jack installation for 3 adjustments over a period of 2 years. If you’re familiar with our other warranties, this short timeframe may surprise you.
Why Do Adjustable Jacks Only Have a 2 Year Warranty?
The short answer to this question is that is how long we can confidently say it will maintain its exact position. There are a lot of variables that can affect a floor jack, and it will only resist these for so long. These include:
- The beam can settle on the jack. This usually happens with older wooden beams, especially if moisture has been an issue.
- The footing can settle into the ground. When jacks are installed, they are placed on a new footer. But that footer isn’t going into pristine untouched soil. It’s resting on the same ground as the existing foundation, which makes settling more likely.
- Water or humidity in the space. Damp soil compresses more than dry soil, so if your crawl space isn’t waterproofed, this can be an issue. Excess humidity can dampen the beam and cause it to compress.
Why Would You Want to Add Helical Piers?
If you would prefer an installation with a longer warranty, I would recommend the use of helical piers. A pier is installed in place of the footer, which eliminates the jack’s susceptibility to settling.
Piers are screwed into the ground under your home until they reach stable, undisturbed soil. This will be below the frost line and the fluctuating water table, so that the pier is stabilized and immobile. A pressure gauge system is used to determine the required depth to achieve the capacity necessary to support your property.
This is an illustration of helical piers.
Piers are a permanent structure, and we warranty them for the life of your structure. This is an added expense, but it can be viewed as an investment into your home. Piers cost between $1600-$2400 each, depending on if they can be dug by machine. If you’d like more details about piers, pricing, and installation, we have a more thorough review in another blog.
Once the pier is installed, a flat steel cap is placed on top of it. The jack is then secured to the pier. This gives you the versatility to gradually adjust the beam to lift the floor, while also ensuring the jack cannot move.
This method is also useful in areas where other contractors might use rebar as concrete reinforcement. The following images provide an example of this:
The picture was taken by an Acculevel project advisor during a routine free estimate appointment. This is a finished walk-out basement. The level above it has a sagging floor.
This photo was taken by an Acculevel crew member during installation. A section of floor has been removed, a pier installed and capped.
This photo was taken by an Acculevel crew member. They installed the jacks directly over the helical pier, then re-poured the floor.
Want to Know More About Your Options?
If you have more questions about this method, or would like a quote for pricing specifically for your home, you’ll need to find a qualified contractor.
Before you sign a contract for any service, you should always verify the company is reputable, insured, and accredited by the Better Business Bureau.
If you live in Indiana or the surrounding states, contact Acculevel. Established in 1996, we specialize in foundation repairs. One of our friendly call center staff will schedule a free appointment with you. An experienced project advisor will evaluate the areas of concern and recommend the best course of action for you, to keep your home strong and healthy for years to come.
If this is your first time hiring a contractor, or you are unsure about how to approach the task, we have a blog that provides a list of questions you should ask a contractor.