b.1) Lack of Test Data
The first requirement of the building code to prove that a new foundation or foundation repair system is acceptable is test data. In other words, the foundation repair system needs to be tested. By testing the building code doesn’t mean having a bunch of guys do a foundation repair and state that the system works. Testing means following pre-approved testing methods under laboratory conditions. These testing methods are set forth by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or various tests set up by Universities, who literally have thousands of procedures on how to test pretty much everything. Furthermore, for something to be code approved, the testing laboratory in charge of implementing all of these ASTM tests as well as other criteria specific to the building code, is a laboratory that is approved under International Code Council, which is the entity in charge of writing the building code. Many times, the code allows for testing to be done without getting ICC approval, it depends on the section of the code.
So in the case of any company who has a foundation repair method that is not already approved in the code, that company needs to get an International Code Council Evaluation Service report (ICC-ES), which will make that particular product (i.e. the foundation repair pieces and methodology). If you go to the ICC website you can read for yourself that getting an ICC certification is not easy, not cheap, and takes a very long time to get (years sometimes). Worst of all, companies that do try to get their product approved to show up in the building code spend hundreds of thousands of dollars (some times millions) in developing the system so that once it gets into the hands of the ICC laboratory, the lab may approve it. Many times several submissions and tweaks to the system are necessary before the product (in this case, the foundation repair product) is approved (and several submissions means years and years of testing and tweaking).
We want to point out that an ICC report is usually preferred for a product that is already not already covered by the code. In many cases, some paragraphs in the code do allow for testing in general, as long as it maintains sound engineering principles. This would allow for a series of testing to be done by several universities.
The foundation repair method that consists of pressed concrete piles has no ICC-ES report, no sufficient acceptable testing data done by an University (actually, we couldn’t find any test data at all except for an excellent but limited PhD dissertation done in 2006 which only compares Downward Vertical forces of several foundation repair systems and the dissertation itself also states several of the limitations it contains, as well as suggestions for future studies which would further perform physical testing and yes, you guessed it, checking of the press piles for uplift and behavior of the press pile during moisture changes). It is no surprise to us that no testing has been done in the system, the math alone proves that they don’t work (more on that later) and the basic requirements of an acceptable foundation repair are not met either if you have read Concrete Press Piles Foundation Repair: Building Code non-compliance Part 1 and Concrete Press Piles Foundation Repair: Building Code non-compliance Part 2.
b.2) Lack of Calculations
Lack of calculations is another requirement to make a foundation repair method something that meets the building code. We promise not to bore you with calculations, but if you read Concrete Press Piles Foundation Repair: Building Code non-compliance Part 1 then you know one of the very important things the calculations would need to prove is the capacity of the pile to resist uplift and settlement from moisture variation and mathematically a concrete press pile foundation repair method (and many variances of it) cannot resist uplift loads in itself; we also saw that gravity loads cannot be supported successfully by this foundation repair system if the piles stop within the active zone (which happens very often) or if the piles are installed crooked (which probably happens most of the time). For more and analysis and calculations, we will go through the remainder of the building code in the later parts of our series on foundation repair from the building code perspective.
c) Conclusion: Don’t use Concrete Press Piles Foundation Repair
We have seen in part 1 of the series on debunking concrete press pile foundation repair method that even the most basic of requirements for a foundation repair system that works and meet the code do not apply for concrete press or push piles. From the beginning, this system doesn’t work and doesn’t meet code. In part 2, we saw that nobody selling you this type of foundation repair method should call it “stabilization”. Here in part 3 we saw that if a foundation repair system is not specifically mentioned in the building code, then the first thing required in such a case is testing and calculations… more evidence that the concrete press piles foundation repair method doesn’t meet the code and therefore doesn’t work. Three strikes for this foundation repair system, and we still have lots more to go.