September 23, 2009 by Morgan Barfield

What is partial underpinning?

To understand partial underpinning, we first need to understand underpinning. Underpinning is a method of sinkhole repair in which the foundation of a home is secured to a metal beam, which is then inserted deep into the ground. Underpinning is used to secure a home to the earth despite past and future sinkholes; even if a sinkhole were to form under a home, it should be securely attached to the earth below it.

That being said, partial underpinning is underpinning that is only applied to one part of a home or building. This may come up in an engineering firm’s report of the best way to repair your sinkhole and the damage it caused your home.

Does partial underpinning work?

We’ve found that partial underpinning usually does more damage than good. This is because, if the earth shifts underneath the home, one part of the home is secured, but the other isn’t. This could mean creating even more damage to the home than a sinkhole would by itself. The only scenario in which this is not true is if you are underpinning a separate addition to a home that rests on another slab. In this case, partially underpinning a home by fully underpinning a smaller, separate slab may be an accurate method to repair sinkhole damage.

Therefore we suggest to avoid partial underpinning, and go for a complete underpinning job. If your engineering firm believes that partial pinning will do the job, then doing a complete underpinning repair should only strengthen the home post-sinkhole repair.

What if it’s my insurance company’s only option?

While being covered by homeowner’s insurance is obviously better than not, one of the issues is that you are depending on your homeowner’s insurance to find a reputable engineering firm that can truly be trusted to fix your home. If the report comes back and partial underpinning is suggested, you should be concerned about this firm and seek outside advice to make sure your home gets the attention it needs.

In this case, it is extremely important that before beginning this plan a homeowner in need of foundation repairs have the plan reviewed and evaluated by an independent expert. Only underpinning one part of a home’s foundation is not a suitable fix for a sinkhole, so do your research and fight for the repairs and coverage you need.

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