Helical Piers 101: The Best In Foundation Underpinning
What Helical Piers Are And Why They Might Be The Best Solution For Your Foundation Problems
When your home’s foundation begins to fail, there is a good chance the cause is instability in the soil beneath it. When this happens, you need a way to secure your foundation to something that has the stability that the soil lacks. There is no better solution to this problem than helical piers.
If your home in Amarillo, or any of the other portions of Texas, New Mexico, or Kansas which we serve is experiencing foundation problems, contact Childers Brothers to see if helical piers are the right solution for your home.
What Are Helical Piers?
Different people refer to helical piers by different names. They sometimes go by helical piles or screw piles or torque anchors or some other variation. Regardless of what you call them, however, they offer a level of strength and precision unmatched by other traditional foundation repair methods.
Helical piers typically consist of three parts.
- The Steel Pier: This steel bar, or series of steel bars, can be extended deep into the ground until they reach a load-bearing strata of soil.
- The Helical Plates: Helical plates are what give the helical pier the appearance of a screw. They come in different sizes depending on the job requirements. The plates serve several purposes. They allow the pier to be screwed into the ground, they increase the surface area in contact with the soil to provide greater stability, and they allow for the precise measurement of the load-bearing capacity of the surrounding soil.
- The Bracket: The bracket is the way in which the pier connects to the building’s foundation. In most cases, they are attached to the side of the building’s foundation.
Once the piers are attached, the load of the building is transferred onto them. The deep-set piers provide stability to protect against poorly compacted and shifting soils.
How Are Helical Piers Installed?
Helical piers might be the cream of the crop as far as foundation products go, but not even they can withstand poor workmanship on the part of the contractors installing them.
At Childers Brothers, we make sure all of our technicians are certified in using helical piers and trained in the latest industry best practices.
Excavation & Installation
Once your home has undergone our 27-point foundation inspection and we have determined that helical piers are the correct foundation solution for you, the helical pier installation process begins with excavating the areas in which the piers will be installed.
These excavations not only give us a place to begin to screw the piers into the ground but also expose the foundation and footing where the bracket will eventually be attached.
Our special machinery then “screws” the piers into the ground.
As the pier is being screwed into the ground, however, we aren’t just sitting back and letting the machine do its thing. The entire time we are taking torque readings.
These installation torque readings tell us the strength of soil into which they are being screwed. For example, a torque reading of 3,000 indicates the soil can hold about 30,000 pounds.
These measurements are crucial. Installing helical piers does no good if they are just going to sink and settle with the rest of the foundation. They must be installed deep enough to reach soil capable of supporting the weight of the building.
And at Childers we don’t engage in guesswork when it comes to your foundation. We don’t stop when we think we’ve hit a load-bearing strata of soil. We stop when we KNOW we’ve hit a load-bearing strata.
Attaching the Bracket & Hydraulic Lifting
Once we are certain the pier has reached solid soil, we can begin the process of attaching the pier to your foundation. We attach the bracket to the top of the pier as well as to the foundation so that the building is now sitting on and being supported by the piers.
Before we finish attaching them, though, there is one more step we must take.
Chances are, your foundation problems occurred because your foundation was no longer level. Simply attaching piers might keep the problem from getting worse, but it isn’t going to make the foundation level again.
To do that, we use a specialized jack to hydraulically lift the foundation back to its initial position. Only when it is level do we attach the brackets.
Once we are certain that the piers are properly supporting the load of the building, we then refill the excavations and remove the equipment from the job site, leaving as little mess as possible in our wake.
Frequently Asked Questions About Helical Piers
How Strong Are Helical Piers?
The industry standard safety limit for load-carrying capacity for helical piers is 6,000 pounds.
Thanks to our manufacturers at IDEAL, the piers we use at Childers Brothers double that capacity at 12,000 pounds. That means that when we install our helical piers in your home, they come with an automatic 2:1 safety factor.
How long do Helical Piers Last?
Foundation solutions involving concrete such as shoring pads and push piles have a tendency to break down over time. That is not the case with steel.
How long do we expect our helical piers to last? They come with a 30-year materials warrantee. You aren’t going to be seeing us coming back and having to make the exact same fix to your home in 3-5 years. Steel helical piers provide perhaps the longest lasting foundation solution on the market.
How Deep Can Helical Piers Go?
The short answer: Helical piers can be installed as deep as they need to be. If the soil requires they go down more than 100 feet, we can do that.
Different jobs require a different depth of piers. If you go with a foundation company skilled in the installation of helical piers, like Childers Brothers, this will not be a problem during installation.
How Do Helical Piers Compare With Concrete Foundation Solutions?
While they were once more common, some foundation repair companies still use concrete piles or shoring pads as foundation fixes.
The only advantage they have over helical piers is price. There are many disadvantages to the concrete foundation repair methods, however.
- Longer lasting: Concrete under pressure can crack, and chip and erode. That’s not the case for steel piers.
- Reach Deeper: Remember how we said helical piers can reach as deep as need be to support the foundation? That’s not the case for these methods. Concrete shoring pads are installed into the same soil that led to the foundation failing in the first place. Concrete piles go a little deeper, but their reach is still limited compared to helical piers.
- Less Stress on the Foundation: Concrete pilings use the weight of the home to press them into the soil. That can lead to more stress during installation on an already stressed foundation. Helical piers don’t have this issue. They are hydraulically screwed into the ground and aren’t connected to the home until they are ready to support its weight.
- Precision: We know exactly when our helical piers can support your foundation thanks to the torque measurements. That is not the case with the concrete methods, leading to more guesswork and a greater chance of failure.
Using concrete may be less expensive, but we aren’t comfortable rolling the dice with your home’s foundation and won’t recommend you do so either. If you want a fix you can count on, one you won’t have to be replacing in several years, helical piers are the answer.
Turn to Childers Brothers for Helical Pier Installation
If your home needs helical piers, make sure to go with an experienced foundation repair company with an impeccable reputation for quality like Childers Brothers. We offer fully trained and certified technicians, top-quality materials and a Word-Is-Bond warranty to back up the work that we do.