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Tunneling Under a House vs Cutting Slabs for Repairs

Seven Myths on Tunneling Under a House vs Cutting Slabs for Repairs Dispelled by Advanced Foundation Repair

Fact or Fiction – Tunneling under a house By Frederick Marshall
(United States, Dallas, TX)
April 8, 2013

How-to websites and blogs are full of questions on whether to tunnel under a house or cut slabs for plumbing and foundation repairs. Some are tunnel only advocates while others push the slab cutting alternative. “There is no one size fits all regarding tunneling under a house or cutting through concrete slabs,” states Fred Marshall, Foundation Repair expert and owner of Advanced Foundation Repair. He continues “Each repair situation is different and needs to be evaluated on its own.”

Myth: Tunneling under a house is always more expensive than cutting concrete slabs.

Fact: Once all the costs are considered, tunneling is often cheaper. When breaking through a slab, remember the flooring with have to be removed and replaced, the interior of the home cleaned, and possibly homeowners will have to move out while work is in progress. Tunneling generally costs more for situations where the floor finishes are inexpensive. For expensively finished homes, tunneling can cost less. For the average homeowner, tunneling will cost more. Advanced prefers tunneling under a foundation because it has some distinct advantages over cutting concrete slabs:

  • Homeowners can stay in their homes during the repairs.
  • Avoids indoor mess and disruption especially when having to replace large sections of flooring or needing to install multiple foundation piers/pilings.
  • For plumbing, plumbers don’t have to pin point the exact location of leak.

Myth: Cutting concrete slabs is a one size fit all solution.

Fact: There are different types of slab foundations. In some cases, breakouts should be avoided. “In my opinion,” Fred Marshall states, “breaking through structurally suspended flat slabs should be avoided.” Flat slabs are slabs with no interior beams.

Myth: Concrete slabs are never quite as secure when patches are applied after cutting through them.

Fact: If properly re-poured, patches are secure. Fred Marshall shares, “In 21 years, I think that we have only had one interior patch fail, including patches in garages that cars drive on.”

Myth: Homeowners can do the tunneling themselves using a tunnel boring machine.

Fact: Tunnel boring machines are machines used to bore tunnels, generally for mining. They are too big and expensive to use on homes. Machines can be used to bore small diameter tunnels through which one can install pipes, electrical lines, and other items with small diameters. Tunneling is physically challenging, to say the least. Advanced would not recommend that a homeowner try it. Fred Marshall mentions, “One homeowner that I know of tunneled. It took 6 months to do what we do in a week.”

Myth: Mudjacking is a good way to fill voids created when refilling tunnel.

Fact: Mudjacking can be used and it does require specialized equipment. Advanced strongly recommends that people not use mudjacking in any situation involving expansive soils that have heaved. Using mudjacking in such situations can lead to future movement. For plumbing repairs, Advanced recommends that mudjacking be avoided. The material that is pumped in will surround the pipes and then harden. If the underlying soils shrink, say during a dry period, the soils will shrink and go down. When the soils go down, the concrete surrounding the pipes will settle, pull the pipes down, and break them.

Myth: A soil compaction test is required to prevent voids after tunneling.

Fact: When soils are moved, engineers like to have the soil compacted so that it will not settle later. A compaction test is a lab test. The tests usually have a specification of 90 or 95% of Proctor Density or modified Proctor Density. To reach the specified density, it is necessary to use mechanical compactors which will not fit in tunnels. There are always voids after tunnels are refilled. Voids are okay, as the foundations are capable of spanning across the voids. Long tunnels can be drained and sealed.

Myth: Insurance companies prefer tunneling.

Fact Insurance companies prefer the solution that costs the least. Advanced Foundation Repair offers home repairs from the foundation up including foundation repair, plumbing, and general construction services. Advanced Foundation Repair has specialized in solving the foundation repair needs of Texas homeowners for over 100 years. Advanced Foundation Repair’s reputation assures customers that they will receive prompt honest and reliable service. Visit http://www.foundationrepairs.com for information on Advanced Foundation Repair’s services, home owner tips and DIY white papers or watch this tunneling under a house video to see how tunneling is done.

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Steel Pile Foundation Repair
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Steel Piling Fitting
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Advanced Foundation Repair will be celebrating the anniversary on-site at their Dallas corporate offices. “Our Pro-Lift Pile Foundation Repair System would not have been successful without our loyal customers. All of us here at Advanced thank you for your continued business, and look forward to serving your foundation repair needs for many years to come!” said Fred Marshall.

Advanced Foundation Repair offers home repairs from the foundation up including foundation repair, plumbing and general construction services. Advanced Foundation Repair has specialized in foundation repair needs of Texas homeowners for over 100 years. Advanced Foundation Repair specialists’ reputations prompt and honest service assures customers reliable service. Get information on foundation repair’s services, home owner tips and DIY white papers.

Frederick Marshall is the CEO of Advanced Foundation Repair, LLC, a foundation repair company specializing in home repairs from the foundation up including foundation repair, foundation drainage, exterior foundation waterproofing, foundation irrigation, and plumbing services. Advanced Foundation Repair has specialized in foundation repair needs of Texas homeowners for over 100 years. Connect with him on Google+.


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Christopher Lorenzo
Christopher Lorenzo
19:36 06 Sep 17
I have had multiple good experiences with Advance Foundation Repair. They stand by their work and kept me informed at all times on the repairs. Post work service was good too. I am very satisfied with their workread more
Ruth Schuman
Ruth Schuman
19:56 05 Sep 17
Workers were very professional and hard working. They dug up around the house and put plants back to look nice. This company also has a trust to forever be able to redo warranted work.read more
Gwen Baumann
Gwen Baumann
02:30 11 Aug 17
I can't too highly recommend this company. I had work done of my foundation by another company several years ago. That work did not resolve the problem, and that company did not fix. Advanced was recommended to me by mother, who said they were the best in the business. I agree! They were polite, professional, charged reasonable prices, and did excellent work. They also have a strong guarantee that is backed by a trust. I can't imagine why you'd use any other company.read more
Linda Krizka
Linda Krizka
19:44 10 Jul 17
Advanced Foundation repair is the only way to go! The engineer, Eric was kind, helpful and informative! The crew under Haynard's watch was unbelievably considerate. The crew was in and out of our house for 5 days. Everyone of them were happy even in the 90 degree weather. They work hard and were very polite. If you saw my house now you would never even know they were here. They cleaned up every night and on the last day it looked like new! Very thankful to have been able to work with them.read more
Michael Francis
Michael Francis
00:48 29 Apr 17
Advanced recently performed our foundation repair and did a fantastic job! The job took four days and throughout the process, the workers were on time each day, were kind and courteous. They left our house clean each day and took great care in making my wife and newborn comfortable during the repair. They came back out to make adjustments, as was expected, and I am more than pleased with the results. Thanks to Juan Martinez, Miguel Mata and Ernesto Alvarato for doing everything I requested. I highly recommend Advanced Foundation Repair, they know what they are doing.read more
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