Tuesday, February 11, 2014
You may have remembered that we changed our name from Arizona Ram Jack to Arizona Foundation Solutions last year. The main reason we did this was to better reflect in our name the more broad scope of solutions that we provide for you. Remember that if the only tool you have is a hammer, then all of your problems start looking like nails.
Thinking about your needs, we have positioned ourselves to provide the foundation solutions for you that will encompass all of the tools that we bring to your home if they require. Tools like helical piles, hydraulic piles, micro piles, compaction grouting, down-in-the-hole hammering, mud jacking and many more. The reason this is important is that our local soil is highly variable, and sometimes really hard in various layers. If you don’t have all of the tools at your disposal, then you try to make do…by putting square pegs into round holes with less than optimal results.
As Arizona’s economy grows, we continue to attract out of state contractors who want to come here and set up shop. While I have nothing against that in principal, it can present several practical problems for a homeowner.
Arizona is a very dry climate and has been for millions of years. Clays that get wet swell up here. In other parts of the country with wetter historic climates the soil behaves opposite drying out and shrinking. The dry heaving action causes many problems for contractors and engineers in diagnosing problems, and about 50% of the time results in misdiagnosed foundation assessments. This is especially difficult for contractors who come from out of state and don’t understand Arizona soils.
Because Arizona soils are dryer, harder and denser, helical piles and push piles are not always able to penetrate to the minimum depth that is required to get past the moisture zone of influence (usually 10’ below grade in our type of soils). This is one of the reasons that we have developed so many techniques to underpin houses. We have the experience and equipment to deal with this when it arises. For contractors without the experience and equipment needed to deal with this, their only choice is to leave the pile above the minimum depth in the vulnerable zone of influence. Since again this condition is unique to the Southwest desert environments, out of town and less experienced contractors have difficulty even understanding these dynamics.
For these and many other reasons we have gone the extra mile to make sure you are getting the right solution, and that the solution is optimal for your unique soil conditions. We have a local registered Civil Engineer on our staff, reviewing our analysis and production. In addition, I have taken the time and effort to travel to Texas every year or more and join the Foundation Repair Association and the Foundation Performance Association and become a “Certified Foundation Repair Specialist”. This is not just some cheesy lay down title given out by a material supplier. It is a by the Foundation Repair Association, the only association of its kind in America. It requires a rigorous exam to be passed (of which about 50% fail the first time) and continuing education requirements every year, among other things.
As you may know, we are no longer an installer of Ram Jack products. We are supplied by Foundation Supportworks, the largest and most successful supplier of helical and push pile products and training for those products in the world. While there may be nothing wrong with Ram Jack products, the installer that is sent here from the east coast or where ever is not going to be familiar with the issues that are unique to our climate and soil conditions. So before you automatically allow just anyone in your home to diagnose and repair your foundation make sure you trust their local experience, qualifications, and equipment needed to make sure you don’t end up with square pegs in round holes.