Case Studies

Foundation Problems Case Studies: Settling Granite Steps - Methuen, MA

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017 by Niles Erickson


When approaching the front door of this home in Methuen, MA, it wasn't hard to see the problem. The beautiful, granite steps had been gradually sinking, so much so that there was a noticeable gap between the trim and siding surrounding the front door and the surface of the top granite landing. A gap of 1.5 inches or more. This was beginning to cause a tripping hazard and a large drop from the threshold of the front door. Additionally, the granite steps also supported a large, ornate portico. As the steps settled, the portico began to lean and pull away from the main house. What may have seemed like a minor issue at first, has now become a larger issue, as damage is being done to the home, potentially resulting in having to replace the entire front entrance area. However, replacing the steps wouldn't really solve the problem, as the problem lies in the soils beneath the steps. The soil is prone to settlement action, and so any new structure on top of the same area would also be susceptible to settlement.The home owner wanted to save the front steps and some how lift them back up to original position, which would also in turn straighten out the portico above.


Erickson Foundation Supportworks proposed using helical piers to permanently stabilize the steps, and even lift them back into a level position. Helical Piers were the ideal solution, as installing them involves minimal excavation, the homeowner would not have to consider replacing the front steps and the portico above would also be lifted back into its original position.

The first step was to expose the bottom edge on either side of the footing beneath the granite steps. A short, steel beam was placed between the footing and the steel bracket, as this would assist in distributing the force of the helical pier evenly. The helical piers, on either side of the steps, were then screwed down into the ground, reaching depths up to 12 feet. At this depth, there was enough pressure and support against the helical piers, and the steps began to rise. As the steps were being lifted, the portico which had been pulling away from the home up above was also being pushed back into place. The helical piers effectively and permanently stabilized the steps, and with a 25 year warranty the homeowner does not need to worry about the steps settling again. 

Once the steps were back up into the position desired, there was still a void beneath the steps. Granite is heavy, and without proper support can sometimes crack. Therefore, Erickson Foundation Supportworks then installed PolyLEVEL injection, which can easily carry the load of the granite. As the PolyLEVEL expanded and cured, the void beneath the steps disappeared, and the steps were now completely supported by the helical piers on the edges, and PolyLEVEL beneath. 

Project Summary

Installing Contractor: Erickson Foundation Supportworks

Certified Inspector: Matt Erickson Jr.

Products Installed: Helical Piers (2), PolyLEVEL

Crew Leader: Justin Fowler

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