What Is Under Slab Tunneling?

Many homeowners know that dreadful feeling of being told their homes have foundation problems. What could be worse? Well, sometimes the solution is what’s worse because they might be told that fixing those foundation issues means breaking open a big hole right under the living room’s floor.

Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be the case. Under slab foundation repair works as an alternative and is a convenient way to avoid the damage done to the main structure of your house.

While some companies are only licensed to do the tunneling work but are not able to fix what’s wrong with the foundation, we at XPERT Foundation Repair are licensed to do both tunneling and foundation repair work– meaning we are your one-stop solution for all foundation problems with your home!

We know that this, although revolutionary, is still one of the newer concrete slab foundation repair methods but our team is prepared to calm your worries and clear any doubts you have.

When is Under-Slab Tunneling Necessary?

In short, with under-slab tunneling, a tunneling crew will dig underneath (instead of through) the concrete slab foundation of your home to reach the point where repairs need to be made.

Specialized boring equipment is used to dig a precise tunnel, as short and shallow as possible, so your foundation problems are fixed and the tunnel is backfilled.

Although not a universal solution, under-slab tunneling is the best option for different situations. Generally, under-slab tunneling is best suited for newly renovated homes, as well as for homeowners who don’t want to leave their homes during the repair process or have people coming in and out while making lots of noise.

While it is true that not all home foundation repairs require tunneling work, we are confident that about 35 to 40% of all foundation repair cases do call for it. You might be tempted to put off the repairs, but remember that an unrepaired home will be considered a distressed property, of which buyers will deduct an amount totaling three times that of the cost of repairs from the market value.

So, to answer the question, if your house has foundation problems, then under-slab tunneling is likely necessary right away if you want to keep the value of your home.

Under-Slab Tunneling Or Cutting Slabs For Foundation Repairs: Which Is Better?

As with many topics related to home maintenance and property value, under-slab tunneling and slab cutting both have their many fans and detractors. We believe that it all comes down to what’s better for you and your home. If you have the type of floor that you would like to keep intact (such as hardwood floors) or want to avoid the hassle of avoiding one of the rooms in your house while the repairs are being done, then under-slab tunneling is the way to go.

On the other hand, it’s also good to remember that cutting through concrete slabs is not a one-size-fits-all solution, with under-slab tunneling only being an alternative. Not all concrete slabs are made equal, and they need different considerations when being cut. The variety in concrete slab foundations is another factor that could affect the total price of your repair and make tunneling more desirable.

Whichever you choose, what matters is that professionals do the job and that your foundation is properly lifted and leveled at the end. Each slab situation is different, after all, and a professional company will evaluate it on its merit.

How Much Does Under-Slab Tunneling Cost?

Several factors go into the cost of foundation repairs. You can check our foundation repair calculator for those. When it comes to under-slab tunneling, one of these factors is the tunneling work itself, which comes to $XXX per foot to dig.

However, it is worth pointing out that a common myth about tunneling is that it is always more expensive than cutting concrete slabs and that it’s only an option for people who don’t want to be inconvenienced inside their own homes.

Cutting through the concrete slabs might prove cheaper for homes where the floor finishes are inexpensive, but it won’t be as convenient for homes with more expensive finishes.

Some people might say that insurance companies prefer tunneling over cutting the slabs; however, the simple truth of the matter is that insurance companies only prefer the solution that costs less, period.

Advantages of Underground Tunneling

The following are some of the benefits of under-slab tunneling.

Versatility: There are many situations where digging a tunnel under your house is a better choice than tearing out the floorboards and digging through concrete. On top of that, it’s just cleaner than the alternative. While effective, cutting the slab produces noise, dust, and debris inside of the home.

Non-Invasive: Think of it as a non-invasive surgery for your home. It’s all about small incisions close to the problem instead of big, painful cuts right above it. The goal is always to dig the shortest tunnel in the least amount of time possible.

Does Not Impact the Structural Integrity of the Home: When done correctly by a team of professionals, under-slab tunneling will have zero negative effects on the foundation of your home. It will be as if the tunnel was never there to begin with.

Safe: Since you are not breaking up the floorboards above the damaged area, you’re also not dealing with construction equipment and debris inside your home, which can lead to a lengthy process and, when not handled professionally, accidents as well.

Privacy: Another benefit of under slab tunneling is that the people fixing your foundation issues can work outside of the home for the entirety of the job, which means you won’t have to be stuck at home while the repairs are being done, or worse, having to move out temporarily.

What Are Some Reasons For Not Using Underground Tunneling?

As we said before, despite all of its advantages, under-slab tunneling is not a universal solution. We recommend it when we think it’s the best option for you, but it can have some downsides under specific circumstances.

Here are some reasons why:

Tunneling Can Be More Expensive Than Cutting Through Concrete Slabs: If your home has a considerably large square footage and needs repairs somewhere near the center, then it might prove difficult to reach the affected area for less money than it would cost to just make a hole above it. You also have to consider that homes with expensive finishes will prefer to avoid any damage to the inside. Still, the advantage of having no floor repair costs to speak of remains as a benefit of tunneling.

When Done Incorrectly, Tunneling May Lead to Foundation Failure: If you’re dealing with an inexperienced or negligent foundation repair company, the tunneling might end up damaging the foundation of your home. Luckily, XPERT Foundation Repair has the crew, equipment, and experience to make the job a breeze. You won’t even know we were there.

The Under Slab Foundation Repair Process

Foundation Problem Inspection and Assessment: A foundation inspector will assess the general condition of your home’s foundation, identify the issues that have to be dealt with, and recommend under-slab tunneling as the right process for you.

Tunnel Path Planning: After a specific foundation repair plan has been laid out, the shortest and most effective path for the tunnel will be drawn. The tunnel will be large enough to allow workers to access and repair your foundation but not so large or deep that it compounds the initial problem with the structure of your home.

Tunneling: Specialized equipment will be used to dig the tunnel, averaging 6 to 8 feet per day. The dirt will be piled near the tunnel (or wherever it is more convenient) and always outside the home. Once the area with foundation damage is reached, the repairs will begin.

Foundation Repair: With the tunnel in place, all necessary repairs that were previously outlined and agreed to will be done to level your foundation.

Backfilling: Once all foundation repairs are completed, the tunnel will be backfilled using both the removed dirt and the new dirt. Once the tunnel has been properly filled and the ground is leveled, the job is officially finished.

Is Under-Slab Tunneling the Right Choice For Me?

Under-slab tunneling is cost-effective and convenient if the foundation repair company deems it necessary for your home. By choosing an experienced and reliable professional company to work with you, you can be sure that your foundation repairs go smoothly and the job will be done right the first time without the need for costly do-overs.

Is your home showing common signs of foundation damage like foundation cracks or uneven floors? Would you like to know which type of foundation repair specifically meets your needs? At XPERT Foundation Repair, we guarantee the delivery of the highest quality foundation repair for our customers with our team of highly trained and skilled professionals.

For anyone in the San Antonio area looking to have professional, quality foundation repairs like under slab foundation repair done to their homes using state-of-the-art equipment and cutting-edge technology, contact us to schedule a free estimate!

Under Slab Tunneling FAQ

Q: How long does under-slab tunneling take on average?
A: On average, the team will be able to do between 6 and 8 feet of tunneling each day. Once the tunneling and repair work is completed, filling in the tunnel takes about half to one full day.

Q: Is under-slab tunneling messy?
A: Not inside your house! A lot of dirt is pushed around when we work; that’s just the nature of digging tunnels, but the dirt piles will be located entirely outside of your home, usually right beside the tunnel. However, “messy” would be a stretch since it’s more of an active work area. It’s especially not messy when the alternative is having that pile of dirt, tools, and concrete dust inside the kitchen or living room.

Q: Can I live my life normally inside my home while the repairs are being made?
A: You are not required to be present at the home while we do the tunneling, but you are also not required to leave. That’s one of the best parts about under-slab tunneling. Our team can work independently, and while we may need access inside the home during the backfilling process, we will stay out of your hair for about 90% of the job.

Q: Will the tunneling affect my landscape?
A: The tunnel digging will not ruin your landscaping entirely, but it can affect it. For shorter jobs, small plants can be saved, and mulch or rocks acting as ground cover can be moved and replaced when the job is done. Unfortunately, older plants are the most likely to die when uprooted. For this reason, if there are any exotic ornamental plants in the path of the tunnel that you would like to save, we recommend that you contact a horticulturist for help.

Q: How long can I postpone repairing my home’s foundation?
A: Homeowners usually believe that, since foundation movement is slow, repairs can be put off– this can be a bad idea in the long run. If your home sits on expansive soil, such as northeastern San Antonio tends to have, your house could be settling at a rate of an inch per month in the worst of cases. It is always better to tackle these problems head-on as soon as you notice them.

Q: Is it cheaper if I just do the tunnels myself and you only come to repair the foundation?
A: So many things have to be accounted for when doing under-slab tunneling that we just cannot advise customers to do it themselves.

From having the right boring machine for use in a residential property to the actual experience of how and where (and how deep) to dig, all while avoiding damaging pipes, electrical lines, and the foundation itself. You also have to do it fast if you don’t want to have an open tunnel in your garden for months on end.

Not to mention, tunneling is very physically challenging, so personal safety is another thing that has to be taken into account. In short, we urge against trying the DIY route when it comes to boring tunnels in your own garden.