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Groundworks Company Installs Five (5) Helical Piles for An Abingdon, VA, Residential Home’s Front Porch Stabilization

by Holly Richards-Purpura

Soil and Foundation Settlement

Building construction – from office buildings to residential homes and everything in between – requires a lot of work, skill, and expertise. One thing to consider in this process involves the soil where a structure is built. A considerable amount of earth must be excavated to build a structure and lay its foundation, no matter if it has a slab, crawl space, or basement foundation.

There are thousands of soil types throughout the country, but there are generally three ingredients that make up all soils – sand, silt, and clay. Sandy soils tend to drain water faster, silt soils tend to have intermediate drainage properties, and clay soils are expansive and hold onto water.

Depending on how the soil was handled with excavation, compaction, and backfilling can greatly impact a building’s structural integrity. Structures built on top of soil that dries and shrinks, wets and softens, or is poorly compacted are likely to experience settling along with the settling soil. Foundation settlement will show itself in the form of various wall cracks, drywall cracks, sticking windows and doors, uneven or sloping floors, as well as a variety of other problem signs.

While it may not be necessary for the average business owner or homeowner to have extensive knowledge about a building’s construction, it is important to stay alert in the interest of safety and structural integrity. Even if something like a wall crack may seem small, it has the potential to become dangerous the longer it is neglected.

Maintain Vigilance and Promptly Fix Foundation Problems

After living in her house for many years, a homeowner in Abingdon, VA, began to notice worsening problem signs along the front porch area. There were several cracks and gaps in the brickwork and foundation along the front and left side of the porch/entryway. This area also appeared to be uneven.

A search of the property’s address through the Web Soil Survey from the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service shows the home was built on Frederick silt loam. This soil is classified as being well-drained with no flooding or ponding hazard, but with moderate shrink-swell potential that can lead to foundation cracking.

As the homeowner researched foundation repair companies that would be able to help address these issues, she found a wealth of information and positive reviews about JES Foundation Repair, a local Groundworks company serving the area. Groundworks is the nation’s largest privately held foundation services company. A certified field inspector with the local company completed a thorough assessment of the home and its settling porch, and he noted the same issues as the homeowner. Using a laser level, the inspector measured 2” of settlement along the porch.

The inspector then recommended installing several helical piles underneath the problematic porch. These tools for foundation underpinning are mechanically installed or “screwed” into the ground and down to more stable soil or bedrock to better support the structure. Helical piles are ideal to use for permanently stabilizing lighter structures such as porches and can even be used to help lift them back to their original level positions.

Installation Project Overview

The homeowner was eager to proceed with the repairs, and a crew with the local Groundworks company completed the installation project in two working days.

The crew began by removing the porch steps, which would be replaced by the homeowner. They then dug down 2-3’ to expose the porch’s foundation footer in the areas of install. A few locations did not have a poured footer in place, so the crew used steel angle irons to ensure proper support on each pile, spreading the load to as many of the CMUs as possible. In total, five helical piles were installed between 16-20’ into the ground.

Once all the piles were in place, the crew used a hydraulic system to attempt to lift the settling porch. They were successful in achieving 2” of lift, and this also closed up the cracks and restored the porch to close to its original height. The homeowner was very pleased with the end result from the diligent crew members, and the crew said she teared up as the project came to a successful close. The home will now be safe and stable for many years to come because of this reliable repair solution.

About Groundworks

Groundworks is the nation’s largest privately held foundation services company. Headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA, the company provides foundation repair, basement waterproofing, crawl space repair and encapsulation, and concrete lifting. Groundworks is comprised of 18 brand companies, which operate out of more than 35 offices that serve 24 states. Since 1986, the combined companies have helped nearly 1 million homeowners protect and repair their most valuable asset, their home. Groundworks 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 Abingdon, VA is:

JES Foundation Repair
1401 Southside Drive
Salem, VA 24153

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