Many homes along the coast have foundations made from wood pilings (or piles) driven into the ground and extending up through the house structure. Concrete pilings are also used, but with less frequency. A piling foundation has proven to be the best way to elevate living space above storm surges and enable buildings to survive severe weather that can easily demolish solid wall foundations.
The solid wood poles used in piling foundations are pressure-treated with a powerful preservative. But over time, this treatment loses its ability to withstand the harsh marine environment. Decay and damage from marine organisms are often concentrated along the water line, splash zone or topsoil area where both moisture and oxygen are present. When the base of a pile is weakened by rot, the house is threatened by a serious structural failure.
Alpha Foundations have extensive experience in repairing all kinds of foundation damage, including weakened piling foundations. During a free inspection, we can detect rotted wood pilings using probes. The repair procedure we use is quick and affordable, thanks to high-tech materials and our highly trained technicians. Instead of replacing a damaged piling, we can restore its structural integrity through the 4-step process explained below.
Excavation. First, we remove the soil from around the piling to fully expose the damage. The excavation extends to solid, sound wood about 24 in. below the damaged area. In the damaged section, we remove marine growth, previously applied coatings, and loose deteriorated material.
Reinforcement. When substantial deterioration has taken place, the repaired section can be reinforced with carbon fiber rods or corrosion-resistant steel rebar. The reinforcement is secured around the exterior of the pile.
Jacketing. To contain the consolidation material applied in the next step, the pier is “jacketed” with a carbon fiber wrap or with a fiberglass cover. The wrap is applied in a spiral fashion, extending from the base of the excavation to a point at least several feet above the damaged area. The fiberglass cover is a flexible cylinder that can simply slip around the pile and be sealed and screwed along a single seam. With both materials, the base of the jacket is sealed to the pile with a flexible gasket.
Encapsulation.With the jacket in place, we inject a cement-based grout or a two-part epoxy resin until the jacket is totally full of this reinforcing material. Both materials are capable of filling voids, fusing with existing wood and curing to a strong, stable patch that can't be damaged by decay or insects.
Our 4-step pile repair and restoration process will work on wood or concrete piles, and can even be used on piles that are permanently underwater. It's also an effective repair for utility poles that have been damaged by rot or insect attack.