How To: Maintain a Pier and Beam Foundation

The pier and beam foundation was once a widely used type of home foundation, particularly before the 1960s. Even today, it can still be found in many historic neighborhoods and cottage areas across Texas. While its popularity has decreased in recent years, the pier and beam foundation still has some benefits over its slab foundation counterpart. One of the biggest advantages is the presence of a crawl space, which allows for easier access to plumbing and electrical systems, as well as providing additional ventilation and insulation options.

Proper maintenance of your pier and beam foundation is critical to ensure you do not face costly issues down the road. Below we outline the basic maintenance items for your pier and beam foundation.

Proper Landscape Drainage

Maintaining a proper drainage system is crucial for keeping a pier and beam foundation strong. When moisture seeps under the foundation, it can cause damage over time. During dry seasons, the ground may become dry, but heavy rains can lead to water accumulating under the house. This can lead to problems such as rotting wood, mold, and termites. To prevent these issues, it is important to make sure that water does not accumulate or flow towards the foundation. Regular maintenance of the drainage system will help ensure that water is not trapped near your house.

Implement a Moisture Prevention System

Keeping your foundation in good condition for a long time requires controlling moisture levels, especially around the perimeter of your house. Interior support piers are particularly susceptible to moisture damage, as mud and moisture can cause them to sink, mold, and rot. Exterior sections of piers can also be affected in the same way.

In the past, the focus was on keeping the soil dry, but recent advancements in technology now allow for more precise measurement of moisture content in the air below your home. Properties located in areas with high humidity are at risk of high moisture content entering beneath the structure, which can lead to costly maintenance for the foundation. The latest technology involves completely sealing off the underside of the structure and installing dehumidifiers to remove excess moisture that enters the crawlspace. This “encapsulating” technique is the best way to properly maintain your pier and beam foundation home in the Houston area.

Utilize Gutters and Downspout Extenders

It’s essential not to overlook checking your gutters and downspouts. Make sure that the water from the gutters is not splashing directly onto the ground near the foundation. It’s advisable to direct the water at least six feet away from the house using downspout extenders.

Avoid having gardens too close to the house, and if they must be, ensure that effective drainage systems are in place. Keep in mind that materials like peat, mulch, or bark tend to retain more water than necessary, which can negatively impact the underground structure.

While post and beam construction provides many benefits, it’s crucial to pay attention to the underground support as even a small movement of a single pier can result in significant damage inside the house.

Regularly Inspect your Crawlspace

It’s important to regularly inspect your crawl space, ideally every six months, to check for any signs of movement. In a pier and beam structure, it’s easy to spot these signs as the posts and beams are visible. Look for any angling or shifting of the piers, as this indicates movement and potential structural damage to your house.

If you can keep the area under your home dry and free of termites, you should have a strong, healthy foundation for years to come.

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    AAA Foundation Service

    If you live in the Houston area and you notice signs that your pier and beam foundation may be failing, give us a call. Trust the professionals of AAA Foundation Service to provide honest information about the issues your pier and beam foundation may be facing. Call us today and we will get you setup with an in-depth inspection, free repair estimate, and a list of solutions.

    Chris Bartlett
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