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Boston Brownstone Foundation Repairs

January 18, 2012

Many of Boston's Brownstone buildings were built over land-filled areas.   Because of the poor soil conditions, wooden piles were driven into the ground to support these new buildings back in the 1800's.   

Wood piles are essentially preserved when submerged in water.  With that said, the original builders knew this fact and had cut the piles off below the groundwater table.   Since then, the groundwater table has been lowering at an alarming rate.  In many areas, the lowered water table has exposed the wood piles to air, allowing them to rot.    

The Boston Groundwater Trust was established to help monitor groundwater levels and make recommendations to solve the problem.  Their website contains a vast amount of information for residents with potential groundwater issues.  

Wood Pile Repair:  EFT provides specialty repair work for rotting wood piles.  There are several technologies available, including a conventional "cut and cap" approach as well as installing foundation piles to strengthen the foundation.  

Foundation Underpinning refers to the process of excavating underneath an existing foundation, generally for repair work.  For a "cut and cap" approach, an underpinning pit is excavated expose the pilings below.   The rotting section of the pile is cut away and is then structurally repaired with steel and concrete.