September 28, 2012

Uses of Helical Piles

helical pier
The helical pile was invented by Alexander Mitchell, an Irish engineer, as a method to stabilize lighthouses, moorings and other structures that were built on sand and mud. The first helical foundation system was installed in the 1830’s. Originally called a screw-pile, the piles were made of cast or wrought iron and were screwed into the ground. The design and installation method provided more stability in weak soils than traditional straight piers. Helical piles have become an accepted industry solution for a variety of problems, including settlement, vibration restrictive installation, lateral loads, and axial tension applications. In 2007 the ICC-ES approved the AC358 Acceptance Criteria for Helical Foundation Systems and Devices. And in 2009 Helical piles are included within chapter 18 of the International Building Code (IBC) 2009.

Why Choose Helical Piles? Helical piles can be the solution of choice for a variety of applications due to the ease of installation, immediate loading, and ability to stabilize in a diverse environment.

Helical piles are a segmented, deep foundation system with helix blades that are welded to a central shaft, and a bracket that allows attachment to new or existing structures. Helical piles provide a structural solution in restricted access sites, locations with a high water table and sites with weak surface soils.

Helical Pile Applications
Helical piles and tiebacks can be used in a variety of axial compression, axial tension and/or lateral load applications:

Retrofit Applications
  • Slab support
  • Basement or retaining wall tie-back
  • Remedial underpinning

New Construction
  • Decks
  • Pedestrian bridges
  • Sign supports
  • Beach front properties
  • Bulkheads
  • Boardwalks

Other Applications
  • Machine or equipment foundation for immediate loading with increased capacity Wind and seismic loading applications such as sound walls, billboards and communication towers.
  • Foundation use in areas that are sensitive to noise or vibration which would prohibit the installation of push piers.
  • Boat mooring - simple, economical mooring for boats. Installed into the harbor bottom through sand and silt until load bearing soil is reached.
  • Earth retention and retaining walls
  • Lighting and mooring
  • Pipeline anchors
Recommended Helical Foundation Systems
JES uses and recommends Foundation Supportworks, Inc. (FSI) helical foundation systems. FSI helical foundation systems are designed and manufactured in accordance with ICC-ES AC358. Are you an engineer or design professional and want to learn more about helical piles and the variety of applications? Sign up for our free engineering seminar. 

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