Foundation Repair Tunneling: What is it and How is it Done?

Once it’s determined that your home has foundation issues, a comprehensive plan will be put together for your review. If the home leveling problems extend into the center of your home, two repair options are available. The first, known as a breakout, involves working from within the home through the existing flooring. The second option, tunneling, is executed from outside the home. While a breakout is a more cost-effective choice, it requires the removal of flooring and may produce some debris, even with meticulous efforts to contain the mess. On the other hand, tunneling, although relatively more expensive, eliminates the need for floor reinstallation and reduces the dispersal of dust and debris within the home.

Understanding the Basics of Tunneling

While it might initially seem complex, the process is rather simple. A team will excavate below your home’s concrete slab foundation, creating a precise 3-foot by 3-foot tunnel using specialized shovels and manual labor.

Your foundation repair specialist will devise a plan that allows access to the necessary location using the shortest possible tunnel length. This approach ensures cost-effectiveness and the most efficient route for repairs.

The optimal tunnel path is typically a direct, obstruction-free line. However, obstacles such as patios, sidewalks, decks, or other hardscaping features might necessitate an adjusted starting point. Similarly, the presence of trees or air conditioning units that could be affected by the excavation might require the starting location to be further away. Nonetheless, the primary aim is always to minimize the tunnel’s length while maximizing efficiency.

How long does it take to dig a tunnel?

Typically, a tunneling team can excavate an average of 5 to 8 feet per day. For an average tunneling project spanning 10 to 15 feet, the entire process may require two to three days for completion. However, the duration of the task hinges on factors such as the location of the pier that needs to be placed and the overall size of the property.

What Are the Advantages of Under-Slab Tunneling?

Under-slab tunneling offers a mess-free solution for fixing internal foundation issues without disrupting the household. Without this method, the home can easily turn into a construction zone, causing significant inconveniences in your day-to-day life.

Imagine the upheaval caused by the jackhammering of the concrete foundation, resulting in excessive noise, dust, and debris, making naps and working from home nearly impossible. The accumulated dirt nearby further adds to the disruption, potentially rendering certain areas, like your kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room, temporarily unusable. Not to mention the constant foot traffic of workers in and out of your home, creating further disruptions.

Furthermore, the length of the repair process directly translates to the duration of the unsightly hole in your floor, potentially leading to the consideration of temporary relocation, which involves additional costs and inconveniences.

In contrast, under-slab tunneling effectively shifts the mess and construction zone outside, enabling the foundation repair crew to navigate beneath the home’s foundation for necessary repairs. This method allows you to continue your daily activities indoors, be it cooking, bathing, or working, undisturbed by the repair process happening outside.

Tunneling Foundation Repair Process: Step-by-Step

Step 1: Excavating the Tunnel

The initial phase involves digging a vertical hole to access the interior location where a pier needs to be placed. This hole typically extends 3 to 6 feet deep, ensuring access to the other side of the foundational slab. Once the work location has been dug out, the tunnel is then dug to the location under the slab where the foundation pier is to be placed.

Step 2: Resolving the Foundation Issue

A certified foundation repair specialist is then sent into the tunnel with the equipment to perform the foundation repair. This typically consists of concrete foundation piers, steel rebar, and a hydraulic press to push the piers into the ground. The initial piers are pressed into the ground until they will no longer move into the earth. Once this is complete, the final repair portion in the tunnel is completed in sync with all of the other piers that are being placed around and under the home.

Step 3: Tunnel Backfilling

Following the successful leveling of the home, the tunneling crew returns to fill the tunnel, using excavated and fresh soil as needed. Foundation repair specialists understand the significance of this stage for the foundation’s future stability. The process involves mud-pumping, and hand stamping, which entails the injection of a combination of mixed concrete with water and using forced pressure to fill the void.

This comprehensive technique ensures the thorough filling of any gaps, providing essential support to the concrete slab foundation. This final step is crucial in minimizing the risk of future settlement, erosion, or foundation displacement resulting from the tunneling procedure. That being said, there is going to be settlement of the dirt that is placed back into the hole. It is important to note that once complete, your home will be resting on the piers that were placed by your foundation repair company.

Schedule Your Free Estimate Today!

    AAA Foundation Service

    At AAA Foundation Service we can expertly handle your under-slab tunneling needs with care. We do tunneling every day as part of our foundation repair jobs and we are experts at keeping your home safe and secure. If you think you would prefer under-slab tunneling, reach out to us for a free foundation inspection today!

    Chris Bartlett
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