Helical Piers Durability: Extreme Weather Protection In Texas
Texas will never forget the winter of 2020-2021, and because of it, more residents than ever are worried about the foundations of their homes.
Suddenly, helical piers durability in relation to extreme weather is a hot topic.
Before that winter’s deluge, all 254 counties received dire warnings then witnessed perhaps the costliest weather event in our state’s history. It began with a sudden deep freeze, followed by cataclysmic levels of ice, snow, and the coldest temperatures in decades. Unfortunately, this caused pipes to burst across the board, and widespread power outages impacted millions…at the worst possible time.
Three things from that winter no one is likely to forget:
- Cars and trucks ice skating through suburban Texas neighborhoods.
- Massive ice chandeliers growing in people’s living rooms from glacial ceiling fans.
- Those Texans skiing down the roads in Austin or going sledding in Forth Worth.
Even more shocking, is that this cold-snap weather system occurred on the heels of a substantial drought!
From parched dry land to covered in ice and frozen stiff, to…
While Texas is no stranger to regional storms and extreme weather events, after such a state-wide catastrophe, homeowners like you are becoming more concerned. Here at Childers Brothers (a 48-year-old foundation repair company based in Amarillo), our phone has been ringing like crazy.
The frequency of these extreme weather events combined with our already challenging expansive clay soils is creating uncertainty.
Folks in northern Texas used to think they didn’t live in a vulnerable location compared to coastal areas, but NOW they’re wondering to themselves…
“Are helical piers the right solution to help protect my home from extreme weather events?”
How will helical piers as a foundation repair and stabilization method hold up over the coming decade(s) should extreme weather events become, well, more the norm?
The answer you’re looking for here is relatively simple:
“Helical piers are NOT as impacted by surface weather events because they are driven down deep into the earth below weather-affected zones.”
We’re going to anchor your home in the far more stable soil strata below where damaging soil swells, groundwater, contractions, and movement cause problems. The only thing that can really move a helical pier system at these depths has to be of substantial seismic nature.
Let’s use this very simple visual to talk about how it works.
The four layers are easy to see: thin topsoil, followed by a sandy/clay layer, followed by perhaps a watery more organic layer, followed by a solid layer deep below.
Imagine this is your home or whatever residential structure you’re looking to safeguard against extreme weather. The load is being distributed to the helical discs (earth anchors) in the stronger and more stable soil strata.
- The end-load bearing discs (plates) on helical piers are going to be custom-sized to suit your specific soils and the specs of the foundation you need to support.
- They distribute the weight over multiple locations rather than concentrate it: from the contact point, down the shaft, into the discs, and out into the surrounding soil below your home.
- This is why they’re a superior solution to conventional poured/driven pilings or grade beams. Helical piers durability and strength dramatically extend the life and stability of your residential foundation.
- Here in Texas, because of our more clay-based soils, they will generally have larger discs. If you happen to live over rockier soils, they’ll likely be smaller. Either way, helical piers installation is minimally disruptive.
How deep do your helical piers go?
In the large area of Texas we serve (basically anywhere within 300 miles of Amarillo), the average depth of a helical pier system is going to be between 10 & 25 feet. However, they can go MUCH deeper when the situation calls for it. Remember, our goal is to anchor them in stable and undisturbed soil, where they lock in place through friction.
Three major factors to consider are:
- What is the soil composition below your home and in your specific area like normally, as well as during extreme weather?
- How high is the water table?
- How dense is the organic material and how deep does it go?
Helical Piers Durability vs. The Alternatives
Despite the fact helical piers are a cost-effective option, many homeowners remain unaware of them. Instead, they go with other foundation repair products that are designed to use the weight of your home to install.
Here’s the problem: most residential homes aren’t heavy enough to push, say a push pier or shank-type pier… beyond the weather-affected zone. There’s not enough weight!
With our helical piers, we install them using hydraulics and screw them down into the ground to perfectly control depth and achieve (exceed) the proper safety factor. The issue with the weather-affected zone is FRICTION. Trying to push piers through is hard because of all the resistance. We’ve got to work them into these deeper, stronger soils like screws into hard oak!
Another issue is the sheer difference between a machine hydraulically drilling a pier, and what it takes to hand-dig & drill them. The process is time-consuming, can cause a big mess, costs more because of labor, and limited-access situations can be very difficult.
- Helical piers are ready to be loaded instantly. With little to no concrete, there’s far less curing involved.
- Helical piers are ideal when topsoils are unstable, you’re in an area with high groundwater, excessive wind exposure, or even above-average seismic activity.
Helical Piers Durability Is Designed For Extreme Weather
The bottom line is these helical piers are custom-designed for your soil type. Then, they’re driven down under weather-affected zones into the strong and stable soil strata. No amount of ice on the surface can impact them. Neither can blizzards, hailstorms, or even a large degree of flooding.
If you live in our Texas Service Area and you’re interested in learning more about how helical piers can safeguard your home against extreme weather, contact Childers Brothers. We’re happy to answer follow-up questions, address your concerns, and get a professional out there to your property to give you a free consultation. Thanks for your time today.