Methods of Foundation Repair

There is a lot of mis-information being thrown at the homeowner these days. We can clarify this issue. We are going to show you the advantages and disadvantages of the most common methods of foundation repair used today. And don’t be persuaded by a celebrity endorsement because — well — because a celebrity endorsement is of little value. If you want an expert and independent opinion then talk to a structural engineer – they are the experts with an engineering degree.

Bell Bottom Pier Method

We use the Bell Bottom Pier method of foundation repair because it is PERMANENT, time-tested, and Proven. It is simply the best. It is a poured, single unit of concrete with steel rebar and a large “foot” or bell bottom for support. It is stronger, is able to support more weight, and able to resist the forces of soil movement. A summary of the advantages and disadvantages is below.

The Proven and Permanent Solution

This is an image of the cap, shaft, and bell of a Bell Bottom Pier anchored in stable soil.

Bell Bottom Pier


The bell bottom pier method is a proven, time-tested, and permanent foundation slab repair method
A soil test is performed to confirm the depth of stable soil
The depth of the pier will be between 8 and 15 feet
The shape, alignment, and depth of a Bell Bottom Pier is inspected by a third party engineering firm
The upper portion of the Bell Bottom Pier or cap is reinforced with two mats of steel rebar
High strength concrete is poured to form a single, solid column that is stronger and has much better resistance to vertical and horizontal soil movement
The center shaft is reinforced with 3 rods of steel rebar
Large bell bottom “foot” of 22 inches provides excellent support
The bell bottom or “foot” resists soil movement known as uplift
The engineering “Factor of Safety” or load capacity is more than 5.8 times greater than standard 6 inch concrete pilings
No hydraulic forces are exerted on the home during the installation
Easily add or move heavy furniture or weight without risk of damage to slab foundation or foundation repair job


Waiting Time – the concrete must cure for approximately two to three weeks between the installation and leveling of the home
Poor construction will compromise the ability of the Bell Bottom Pier to support heavy loads


Pressed Piling Method

The most common of all methods of foundation repair in Dallas and the rest of Texas is the Pressed Piling or Pressed Piles method. This method of foundation repair has been labeled “temporary” and “useless” by the structural engineers at A-1 Engineering in San Antonio and Austin. We are not going to argue with that opinion. This is the lowest quality method of foundation repair utilized in Texas but it is the most common because it is the most profitable for the foundation repair contractors.

Pressed piles are concrete cylinders that are pressed into the ground under a home’s foundation.  The hope is that the hydraulic system will drive the piles vertically into the ground. This can only be hope since there is no method to confirm the fact.  If the concrete cylinders hit a rock, tree root, or crack during driving they can skew off on an angle and then they will offer little or no support for a concrete slab foundation.

Although some more recent versions of this method have attempted to “tie” the concrete cylinders together with a cable or steel rods, it is a poor substitute for a single unit support structure. The 12 inch concrete cylinders will be individually pressured by the forces of soil movement.  In addition, since the house itself is being used as the weight to drive the concrete piles into the ground, the foundation can be significantly damaged by crew error.

This is an image of the Pushed Piles method of foundation repair - a stack of concrete piles which can often become cracked, broken, and misaligned during installation.

Pressed Piles



There is no poured concrete so there is no curing time
The total job time is very short – usually one day


Unproven repair method – no load or capacity tests in Texas soil conditions
Long term viability and performance has not been established by the test of time
Usually a soil test is NOT conducted
The weight of the house will determine the maximum driving depth – if the house does not weigh enough the piles may never reach stable soil
Concrete cylinders have NO steel rebar for reinforcement
Usually the concrete piles are NOT tested for strength – some are batch tested
Piles that are cracked and broken during the driving installation cannot be seen
The misalignment of the piles cannot be determined or seen
Usually city building inspectors do not inspect the final results
The engineering “Factor of Safety” is 1 – the column of piles cannot support any additional weight; adding or moving heavy furniture poses a risk of failure
Hydraulic lifting of the house during installation can damage your foundation and home – the perimeter concrete beam can be cracked
The piling cylinders are unconnected and offer minimal resistance to the soil forces of uplift and heave
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