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Groundworks Company Installs (8) Helical Piles to Stabilize and Repair an Aging Home in Chattanooga, TN

by Holly Richards-Purpura

Structural Repair and Protection Prior to Selling is Key

Whether you are a residential or commercial owner, it is vital to maintain the health and safety of your building’s structure. This is especially true if you want to sell your home or business, as structural or foundation problems could decrease the value of your building by 30%.

A longtime homeowner in Chattanooga, TN, decided it was time to put his house on the market. But before doing so, he knew he needed to address some problems around the property. These included cracks and separation in exterior brick, as well as water intrusion in the cellar.

Brick walls with stair-step cracks and even leaking water in the same area are signs of foundation settlement. While foundation settlement can happen for several reasons, it all boils down to the soil underneath and around a structure. If the soil a home or business is built on is unstable, the structure itself also will be unstable. Unstable soil happens due to drying and shrinking of the soil, wetting and softening of the soil, and poor compaction. Signs that this is happening and leading to settlement include cracks in bricks, drywall cracks, sticking windows and doors, and uneven or sloping floors.

While the real estate market is hot right now and it is a seller’s market, it is important to make sure your home or business does not have these problems. Many buyers want to invest in a move-in ready building in which they do not have to live with the aforementioned issues or endure foundation repairs.

Invest Your Time in a Thorough Inspection

The owner of this 60-year-old home did his research before reaching out for assistance. Along with learning more about these issues and repairs online, he received a recommendation from a trusted friend. The homeowner then contacted AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists, a Groundworks company serving Chattanooga, TN. Groundworks is the nation’s largest privately held foundation services company.

A certified inspector from the local company then visited the property to conduct a thorough evaluation of the home and its foundation. Along with the visible exterior cracks, the inspector also noticed significant gaps around a couple of the window frames. The inspector also checked the home for settlement, measuring 1 ½” of settlement on the front right and left corners of the house.

Foundation settlement can be addressed various ways, but the best, permanent solution is to install foundation piles or piers underneath the foundation. One of these repair methods is excellent for stabilizing and repairing areas of lighter structures – helical piles. While many piles are driven down into the soil, round shaft helical piles are “screwed” into the ground and down to more stable, load-bearing strata with hydraulic equipment.

These helical piles are what the inspector recommended to the homeowner in stabilizing and helping lift the settling corners of the structure. The homeowner agreed to proceed with these suggested installations to repair and safeguard the home and its problematic foundation.

Installation Project Overview

An installation crew with the local company, AFS, was able to complete the stabilization and repair project in two working days.

The crew first started by digging out holes along the foundation where the piles would be installed. These holes were approx. 3’ in depth so the crew could access the bottom of the foundation footing to properly install the piles and foundation brackets. There were concerns with massive wall failure during digging, partially because of no brick ties, but the crew exercised extreme care and braced the wall. Each of the eight helical piles was then installed underneath the settling corners of the foundation. All were installed approximately 6’ down to more stable soil to better support the home.

Once all piles were installed to properly stabilize the foundation, lift cylinders were then placed on top of each pile’s foundation bracket so additional pressure could be applied in attempt to lift the corners back toward their original positions. Along with this additional pressure from the hydraulic equipment, the crew also used the bucket of the excavator and a 2x12 to push against the brick fascia in order to achieve 1 ½” lift. This also successfully closed the various brick gaps and gaps around the window frames.

This project not only enhanced the home’s safety and structural integrity, but its value as well. The homeowner is pleased to have a stable living environment for himself as well as future owners because of this repair project.

About Groundworks

Groundworks® is the nation’s largest and fastest-growing foundation services company. Headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA, the company currently provides foundation repair, basement waterproofing, crawl space repair and encapsulation, and concrete lifting services across a number of local and regional brands. Groundworks is comprised of AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists™, AquaGuard Foundation Solutions™, Baker’s Waterproofing™, Complete Basement Systems®, Dry Pro Foundation & Crawl Space Specialists™, Florida Foundation Authority™, Foundation Recovery Systems™, Foundation Repair of Western Colorado™, Foundation Systems of Michigan™, Indiana Foundation Service™, Innovative Basement Authority™, JES Foundation Repair™, Mount Valley Foundation Services®, Ohio Basement Authority™, Ohio Basement Systems™, Tar Heel Basement Systems®, A-1 Sewer & Drain™, Independence Materials Group™, and Bizwiz Software™. Since 1975, the combined companies have helped nearly 1.5 million homeowners protect and repair their most valuable asset, their home. Groundworks operates more than 40 offices and has been named numerous times to the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies, BBB integrity award, and Best Places to Work. For more information, visit

The Local Groundworks Company Serving Chattanooga, TN is:

AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists
214 Industrial Park Dr.
Soddy-Daisy, TN 37379

Groundworks Companies