When it comes to building a home or commercial venue in the Charlotte, NC area, it is not uncommon for helical piers to be a part of the structure. The purpose of the helical pier is to provide additional strength, lateral load support or optimum tensile resistance for loading to a structure. They are especially beneficial when building on a site where there is shallow bedrock.
Helical piers, also known as helical piles, helical anchors, screw piles or screw anchors, have been in use since the 1800s, when they were most commonly used for lighthouse foundations. Since then, they have become common for use in structures where masonry footings would not be sufficient or economical.
FAQs about Helical Piers
- What is a helical pier made from? Typically, helical piers are made from steel and have one or more circular plates attached.
- How deep can a helical pier go? The depth varies based on the structure being supported. Because the length of the helical pier is determined by how much it needs to hold, the length will vary. However, a standard depth is 20 feet, though it can be as short as 10 feet and as long as 60 feet.
- Is it necessary to use concrete with helical piers? No. This is one of the advantages of helical piers as once installed, the next step of the building process can be started.
- Will helical piers rust? Helical piers are coated with a specialized galvanization process which protects it from rust and corrosion. In most scenarios, there is a life expectancy of more than 150 years.
- How many helical piers are needed for a structure? This will depend on the size of the building, type of construction, number of stories, soil support, and number of corners a building has. The piers are placed anywhere from 10 to 20 feet apart, dependent on the structure and foundation to be used. For example, a structure that is approximately 2,000 square feet with good soil support will take 40 – 60 piers.
- Can helical piers be installed to an existing structure? Yes. It has become quite common for helical piers to be installed when homeowners decide to add a second floor to a single level home. Rather than excavating around the entire home, a contractor can drive helical piers into the soil alongside the existing foundation. The piers are then fastened to the existing foundation using straps and brackets. Helical piers are also being used when a new deck or porch is being added to a home, as they don’t require excavation or concrete trucks.
- What are some benefits of choosing helical piers rather than other support structures?
- They can be built on immediately – no waiting for concrete to cure.
- Can be installed right next to an existing foundation, and without impact.
- They do not cause disturbance to nearby structures.
- They have no adverse effect on the environment. Even if installed near a water source, there is no fear of causing harm to water quality or animals.
- There’s no digging or soil removal required.
- Not vulnerable to frost or water damage.
If you are planning a build in the near future and are unsure as to the best type of foundation for the building, then give the Sherrill Structural Repair team a call. We will be happy to answer your questions and assess the site so you can make an informed decision.