For decks, porches, and even full additions, we often use helical piles to provide the foundational support for our structures. Helical piles are large steel screws that thread into the ground as a replacement for concrete piers or foundations. They have been in use for close to 200 years so they have a long history of performance in both residential and commercial applications.
How Do Helical Piles Work?
A helical pile consists of three parts – the shaft, the helix, and the cap. The shaft is a hollow pipe or solid square bar stock. The helix is an angled round plate that acts as the screw thread and is welded to the bottom section of the shaft. The cap can take on various shapes – flat plate, saddle bracket, etc. -depending on the connection required to the structure it supports.
A helical pile is installed by “drilling” it into the ground using a hydraulically powered motor. In residential applications, the pile is usually driven between 5 to 20 feet into the ground. The diameter of the helix and the makeup of the soil determine the depth required to achieve the proper load-bearing capacity needed.
Why Use Helical Piles?
There are many benefits to using helical piles in your home renovation or new home build.
- Affordable and cost-effective: Digging for basements or crawl space foundations requires a lot of time, materials, and manpower, which can equal a lot of money. In the right application, helical piles can do the job at a fraction of the cost. For decks and porches, helical piles are competitively priced against concrete piers, but require no dirt removal or pouring of concrete and they can be built on as soon as they are installed.
- Minimized impact to the job site and no mess: Excavating for foundations requires heavy machinery, trucking dirt off-site, and bringing concrete onto the site. Helical piles thread right into the ground leaving virtually no surface disturbance from heavy equipment. No soil is removed from the site and no concrete is needed to bring onsite. The equipment to install the piles can fit through a 36” fence gate so challenging site conditions are not a problem.
- Environmentally friendly: Making and trucking concrete is carbon intensive. Using helical piles makes your project much greener.
- Energy efficient: The raised floor system of our additions can be easily filled with environmentally friendly dense-packed cellulose insulation for a much better R-value rating than a crawl space or full basement foundation.