How Helical Pier Foundation Repair Works

In Commercial Blog Posts, Residential Blog Posts by John Topa

Do you own residential or commercial buildings that could benefit from the installation of helical piers? There are several telltale signs that your structure is experiencing foundation problems due to soil shifts that piers could correct. In this post, we will detail how helical piers work.

Retaining Wall Collapse

When your Florida contractor added a retaining wall to the property, you might have noticed a gradual shifting of the components. Eventually, it cracks and then collapses.

Deck Sag

Initially, a home’s deck meets up perfectly with the main structure’s foundation. Over time, you noticed gaps forming that gradually widen. Now, the deck is sagging or sinking into the soil.

Uneven Floor Shifts

Residential and industrial buildings could experience floor shifts. One side of the space is higher than the other. If you were to place a marble on the higher side of the floor, it would roll to the opposite wall.

Cracks in Floors and Walls

In multi-story buildings, you might notice that some walls are developing cracks. There is a good chance that they will be on the same side of the building.

What are Helical Piers?

When faced with these problems that are most likely due to a shifting foundation, helical piers can be the ideal solution. In simplest terms, these piers are similar to giant screws. Actual helical piles feature a round shaft and one or more bearing blades welded to the center of the lead section. Because these blades look like a helix, industry insiders use the term to name this type of pier support.

Why Engineering Experts Use the Helix Design for Soil Stabilization

While some forward-looking contractors use these piers in a pre-construction phase, most property owners do not learn about helical piles until a foundation problem requires stabilization. At that time, your contractor may suggest inserting several of these piers into the soil and attaching them to the foundation.

The goal is to screw the parts featuring bearing blades so deep into the ground that they reach supporting soil. After the correct installation, the combination of helical piers shifts a property’s weight downward, where the solid ground will support it.

Common Questions and Answers Surrounding Soil Stabilization and How Helical Piers Work

Florida engineering specialists frequently get inquiries about this technology from owners of industrial, residential, and multi-story buildings. This foundation repair Q&A addresses most of them.

Q: When is a helical pier system installation a good choice?
A: Consider installing this system when your structure has begun a gradual shift due to unsupportive soil. By transferring the weight to the deeper ground with stable soil, it may be possible to stop further movement. Some homebuyers are trying to prevent this problem from occurring in the future; therefore, they have contractors add the piers during the new construction phase. Others have the work done when adding an addition to the structure.

helical pier installation

Q: What are the details of a foundation repair with helical piles?
A: When your engineer and contractor agree that helical piers are the best option for dealing with the ground movement, the experts will schedule a construction crew to come to your building.

Helical blade positioning. The shafts with the blades go deep into the ground to reach the stable soil that can support the structure’s weight. Extension shafts without blades keep the technology accessible to the crews.

Bracket mounts. Once the experts are satisfied that the helical piles have reached the proper depths, crew members mount the shafts with specialty brackets to the building’s foundation footing.

Q: What happens with structures where there is no easy access to the foundation from the outside?
A: It is possible to install the helical piles under residential and commercial buildings from the inside. In this scenario, the contractor will bring in construction crews to remove portions of the slab, do the installation work, and then replace it. This may also be an excellent approach to take when adding the piles during pre-construction.

Q: What outcome should you expect from this pier placement?
A: The goal is to lift the building to its original position. In the process, you should notice the closure of wall cracks. Moreover, if you have had problems with opening or closing doors because of settling soil, the repair should improve the issue.

Q: When is the best time to undergo this type of foundation repair?
A: Unlike other options, the helical pier can be installed year-round. Because your contractor can undertake it with minimal disturbance to those using the building, you do not have to wait until you are going on vacation or the structure sits empty.

Q: Which properties are good candidates for helical pier foundation repairs?
A: It is interesting to note that this system works as well for multi-story commercial buildings as it does for the single-family ranch style home. Other structures you might be able to save with this technology include decks and parking pads used by heavy trucks and equipment.

The Sooner You Call for Service, the Smaller the Extent of the Damage from a Settling Building

It is tempting to put off making the call. At first, you probably think that the small crack in the wall is not a big deal. You might even try to fix it with spackling paste or other products. However, it keeps coming back. Soon, there are additional cracks that gradually lengthen and widen. These are warning signs that your structure’s soil is no longer adequately supporting the weight.

You might hope that eventually, the soil movement ends and the settling evens out. However, it is highly likely that the damage to your structure only worsens. Before long, you may find that other sides of the property also become impacted. As a result, the need for repairs becomes amplified.

Frequently, the delay in calling engineers and contractors has to do with a misunderstanding or fear of the process. You worry that your home’s exterior becomes a construction zone for weeks on end. Some homeowners fear that they must replace the entire landscape after the process.

This is not the case. Instead, construction will be quite limited to the stabilization points. Concurrently, this process is usually finished in about a week or less. While there will be some minor inconvenience, the result is a permanent stabilization of the structure’s foundation without the need for additional maintenance.

Make No Commitment until an Expert Evaluates Your Foundation

Inspections are free of charge. When an engineer or contractor looks at your unique foundation problem, they can give you a targeted assessment that helps you understand all your options while answering any questions you may have. Call today!