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Groundworks Company Reinforces Settling Garage with Helical Piles Near Winston-Salem, NC

by Holly Richards-Purpura

Realty Realities: Foundation Impacts

Many factors need to be considered when buying and selling a property. This includes the building’s foundation and its condition. A solid foundation – figuratively and literally – is needed for any structure to function properly and safely. Any foundation issues also can negatively impact the home’s value, sometimes by as much as 30 percent. That’s why it’s important to seek professional advice and assistance from structural engineers and foundation repair experts.

The owner of an 80-year-old home in Madison, NC, 30 miles northeast of Winston-Salem, previously purchased a property with the intention of renovating and selling it. She could tell there were some issues with the home, including the detached garage on the property, so she contacted a local structural engineer before proceeding with any projects.

Professional Assessment is Key

After receiving the engineer’s report with various recommended repairs, the owner began reaching out to various companies to find the right fit for the needed fixes. She found that in Tar Heel Basement Systems, 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 conducted a complete evaluation of the property including the home and detached two-car garage. He noticed the same damages as the engineer, including a variety of stair-step cracks along the CMU walls of the garage. Specifically, these cracks measured ½” wide on the rear wall, ¼” and ½” wide on the right wall, and 3/8” wide in the left wall. Approximately ½” of lateral displacement was measured across one of the cracks on the right wall, indicating movement.

What Lies Beneath Affects All Structures

These problem signs mean the garage foundation was experiencing differential settlement, most likely due to weakening soils that could no longer properly support the foundation. This could be attributed to excessive moisture in the soil.

Even though the area’s sandy loam soil is generally well-drained with little frequency of flooding or ponding, according to the Unites States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Web Soil Survey, the soil also contains clay. Clay soil is notorious for its expansive properties that also significantly contribute to foundation settlement. It also didn’t help that the garage lacked any gutters or drainage that would help control the moisture in and around the foundation.

Finding the Right Repair Solution

Every foundation is unique, experiencing its own unique problems and requiring its own specialized solution. The team at the local Groundworks company is well versed in all facets of foundation repair needs. Following the engineer’s report and suggestions, the inspector proposed a plan tailored to the settling garage’s repair needs.

Concurring with the engineer, the inspector also recommended the installation of five helical piles underneath the problematic sections of the foundation. Helical piles are mechanically screwed into the ground and down to more stable soil to permanently stabilize the foundation. These piles also are perfect to use on lighter structures like garages. While some helical piles offered by other companies can bend and potentially fail, the sturdy helical piles installed by all Groundworks companies are made of galvanized steel to enhance their durability and resist rust and corrosion.

The homeowner agreed to proceed with the recommendations, and the installation project was expedited so the property could be listed on the market as soon as possible.

Installation Project Overview

A crew with the local company was able to complete the installation in one working day. The crew started by excavating outside the garage, digging down 18” to access the footing. A total of five helical piles were installed – four under the most problematic wall and one on the adjacent corner of the rear garage wall.

A X9K5 drive head was used to install each pile, and the pile capacities were determined by measuring the differential pressure over the torque motor. Each pile was installed 10’ deep, driven to an ultimate capacity of at least 48 kips. Various cracks around the walls of the garage as well as the house also were repointed and sealed.

The homeowner is pleased the garage will now be a stable structure, and this project helped enhance the property’s value.

About Groundworks

Groundworks® is the nation’s leading and fastest-growing foundation services company. Headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA, the company currently provides foundation and water management solutions including foundation repair, basement waterproofing, crawl space repair and encapsulation, and concrete lifting services. 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 about Groundworks, please visit:

Groundworks Companies

The local Groundworks company serving Madison/Winston-Salem, NC, is:

Tar Heel Basement Systems

2910 Griffith Road

Winston-Salem, NC 27103