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Helical Pier System
What Is A Helical Pier?
A helical pier is a type of deep foundation system used to support structures and heavy loads. A helical pier consists of a hollow steel shaft with one or more helix-shaped plates welded to its bottom end.
Helical piers are a high-performance alternative to traditional concrete footings and shallow foundations, especially in sites with weak soil conditions, steep slopes, or limited access.
Helical piers are typically used on lighter-weight structures, or when it isn’t feasible to use push piers because of obstructions or utilities. These lighter-weight structures include garages (attached or detached), small, single story homes with no brick, some stoops, patio fireplaces, etc.
How Do Helical Piers Work?
The plates of a helical pier are designed to be driven into the ground by applying torque to the shaft, either manually or with hydraulic equipment. The helices act like a screw, penetrating the soil without displacing it, and creating significant upward and lateral resistance. The shaft can be extended to reach the desired depth and load-bearing capacity, which can range from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of pounds.
One of the advantages of helical piers is their fast installation and immediate load-bearing capacity. They require minimal excavation and backfilling, and can be installed in any type of soil, including clay, sand, gravel, and rock. They also produce little noise, vibration, or disturbance to adjacent structures or soil layers. Moreover, helical piers are resistant to corrosion, decay, and environmental factors, such as moisture, temperature, and chemicals.
Why You Might Need A Helical Pier System
Evaporation – Hot and dry conditions may cause soil to pull away from the foundation. Settlement due to this foundation moisture imbalance could cause cracks to appear throughout the surface.
Transpiration – Tree roots could dehydrate the soil beneath the home causing soil shrinkage.
Plumbing Leaks – Water from leaky plumbing is often a major contributor to foundation problems, including heaving.
Drainage – Improper drainage will lead to excess moisture build-up, which could erode or consolidate soils. Excessive moisture may cause heaving or expansive soils.
Site Preparation – Cut and fill places where soil is removed from part of the building site and stacked onto another.
Are Helical Piers Better Than Concrete Piers?
Helical piers and concrete piers are two popular options for foundation systems. Helical pier systems are made up of steel shafts with helix-shaped plates that are driven into the ground using hydraulic machinery. Concrete piers are cylindrical or square-shaped structures that are cast in place by boring a hole into the ground and filling it with concrete.
One of the main advantages of helical piers is their ability to be installed quickly and efficiently with minimal disturbance to the surrounding soil. This makes them a popular choice for residential and commercial construction projects that are under tight time constraints. In addition, helical piers can be installed in almost any type of soil condition, including high water tables and soft soils that would require additional excavation for traditional concrete piers.
Another advantage of helical piers is their ability to withstand heavy loads and resist settling or shifting over time. This is due to the fact that the helical plates on the shafts create a large amount of surface area that distributes the weight of the structure evenly across the soil. As a result, helical piers are commonly used in foundation repairs and retrofit projects as they are better suited to address settlement issues than traditional concrete piers.
Ultimately, the choice between helical piers and concrete piers will depend on a variety of factors, including soil conditions, project timeline, structure type, and budget.
Advantages of Helical Piers
Permanently stops foundation settlement
Installation is quick and only mildly invasive
Light disturbance to landscaping and yard
Work well in lightweight structures
Lifting of structure can usually be achieved
All parts are American steel
Installation can be done from interior if exterior access is limited
Installation causes no further damage to structure
Helical piers are driven to the load bearing strata