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4 Reasons to Use Helical Piles

In the mid-1800s, helical piles were often used in England for moorings and as the foundations of lighthouse structures. In recent years, helical piles are becoming more and more popular around the world due to their many benefits. They are a lot more environmentally friendly than their alternatives and highly cost effective. Here are various situations in which you might choose helical piles as the most suitable deep foundation option:

  1. When Access is Limited

Helical piles are often the preferred option when the conditions are of restricted or tight access. They can be sized appropriately to the accessibility of the project and installed using equipment of varying styles and sizes, from mini-excavators to large track equipment.

  1. When Time is Limited

Unlike concrete, which takes a long time to cure, helical piles are very quick to install using a hand-held device. What’s more, helical piles are designed specifically to suit the relevant ground conditions. This makes them ideal for time sensitive projects and also saves on the cost of labour. If it is ever necessary to remove them, helical piles are just as easy to take out and can be recycled time and time again.

  1. When the Site is Environmentally Sensitive

On certain sites, such as wetland and boardwalk projects, it’s highly important that there is limited disturbance. That’s why helical piles are an appropriate option, because they are installed using smaller equipment and cause a limited amount of disruption and vibration.

  1. When the Soil is Contaminated

When you’re deciding on which building foundation is most suitable, one of the factors to consider is the soil condition. Where helical piles are concerned, the soil below typically remains in place. This means that if the soil is contaminated, no additional costs are necessary for treating spoils or disposing of them in designated landfills.

What to Avoid When Choosing a Pile Foundation Company

The processes and apparatus involved in installing building foundations (such as helical piles) are continually progressing, while new tools and techniques emerge. At times, foundation companies fail to keep up with these inescapable changes, resulting in errors, safety hazards and poor service. If you have an upcoming building project and require a foundation installation company, here are four things you we advise you to avoid when hiring a pile foundation company:

  1. Lack of Experience

In certain industries, long-term experience is of the utmost importance because it means the company is well-practiced, knowledgeable and proficient. ScrewFast, for example, has nearly two decades worth of experience in a range of foundation industries and we have a training school for new installers. Try to avoid companies who do not have the experience necessary to provide a superior service.

  1. Neglecting Safety

Stay away from unprofessional companies that cut corners and overlook safety. In order to avoid injuries of both staff members and the general public, it’s important for companies to place a strong focus on safety throughout a project. At ScrewFast, we have avoided any serious injuries and are proud of efforts to protect those who manufacture, install and use our pile foundations.

  1. Incorrect Tools

Where geotechnical engineering is concerned, appropriate equipment is of course imperative. Many vendors lack the knowledge and resources required to correctly test, plan and execute a pile foundation project.

  1. Ignoring Ground Conditions

Before a building project can commence, a thorough and professional survey of the ground must first be carried out. Decisions can then be made about what approach will be taken and what equipment will be used to install the foundations. Our piles are manufactured to meet the specific requirements of the ground conditions. For instance, rock cutting teeth can be added to our helical piles in order to break through strenuous terrain.

What’s Involved in a Ground Survey

Before beginning a building project, it’s sensible to carry out a professional ground survey. Normally, trial holes are dug around the area so that a decision can be made regarding a suitable foundation. You will likely need to hire a structural engineer to perform this survey; it is too big a risk to take on the responsibility of designing your own foundations.

You cannot know what lies below ground without an adequate survey. There may be obstacles such as mine shafts or wells, which will require additional funding to remove or work around. For this reason, it’s always advisable to save some contingency funds.

If you hire an engineer, they will assess the area for big trees and boggy ground, as well as evaluating the condition of the soil. Unfortunately, if you build on substandard soil your new structure may end up with cracks and leaks due to ground movement. Essentially, the ground needs to be able to hold your building with limited amount of movement or change in shape.

If the ground conditions are not ideal, you may want to consider building a basement. Although expensive, it may work out as a more cost effective option because it will likely add value to the property and provide extra space for the inhabitants.

As well as an engineer, it’s also wise to discuss your plans with your neighbours and local builders because they may share some background information about the area and the success or failure of nearby buildings. It’s a good idea to speak to your local building inspector.

A Guide to Helical Pile Installation

Helical piles are a type of structural foundation. In other words, they are designed to bear the weight of a building so that it does not sink into the soil. All properties are built upon a foundation, because it helps spread the heavy load evenly across the ground. There are many advantages to using helical piles, including the ease of installation and consequent removal, if necessary. Of course, helical piles must be installed by a trained professional and should not be seen as a DIY project.

Helical piles are fitted into the ground in a similar way that a screw is inserted into wood, although on a much larger scale. Using machine-mounted hydraulic or electrically powered drilling equipment, they are screwed directly into the ground. However, this causes minimal vibration.

Unlike concrete, helical piles can be installed in any type of soil and in low temperatures. Since they are designed to suit the ground conditions and application requirements of the individual project, the installation process is relatively quick and suitable for a variety of projects. As a result, it is a highly popular and beneficial method of choice across the civil engineering industry.

The equipment used to install helical piles is not only easy-to-manage but also keeps noise pollution to a minimum. This convenient and practical apparatus means it is not difficult to reach offshore or remote areas where wind turbines and solar farms are normally built. Overall, the process of installing helical piles is a lot cheaper than concrete installation and is a more environmentally friendly option.

Why is the Foundation of Your Home so Important?

All properties are built upon a foundation, such as concrete or helical piles. The purpose of a foundation is to evenly spread the heavy load of the building across the ground so that it doesn’t collapse or sink. It might seem silly to put so much thought into something you can’t even see, but you should not underestimate the importance of your building foundation!

Spending hours choosing paint colours and decorating your beautiful home is great, but it will be all for nothing if you don’t first take the time to ensure that the foundation of your home is built to the very best standards. It is completely worth it because it will prevent any problems further down the line. Building on the wrong type of soil where movement is probable, for example, can lead to cracks and leaking in your home. Even the most lavish of properties can experience such flaws if they are not constructed upon a stable foundation.

Prior to deciding which type of structural foundation is most appropriate, you must do your research and have a strong understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each.  You might want to consider factors such as the effects on the environment (if any) and what the overall costs will be.

Once the build is complete, there are ways you can protect your property to avoid causing damage to your foundation. For example, during the summer months when rain is less frequent, it’s a good idea to water the land surrounding your property. This will stop the soil from drying up and shrinking, consequently causing your foundation to move.

If you require any advice or assistance regarding your building foundations, please feel free to call us on 01727735550 or email info@screwfast.com and we will be happy to help.

Why Are Helical Piles Used in the Energy Industry?

Foundations are essential for spreading the weight of a building or other type of construction across the ground so that it doesn’t sink. There are many things to think about when deciding which foundation is the most ideal for your project, including the condition of the soil. You must have a clear understanding of how each type of foundation works and how they could be of benefit to your project. Choices include grillages, concrete and helical piles and each have different pros and cons. Below we discuss why helical piles are frequently used within the energy industry.

Helical piles, which originated in the 1830s, are tensile and work well in many different arduous conditions, such as unstable ground. What’s more, the equipment used to install helical piles is convenient and easy to handle which means that it is not difficult to reach remote or offshore areas where wind turbines and solar farms normally reside. In other words, helical piles are an ideal option for environments that are characteristic of energy-related construction sites.

Being quick and easy to install using hand-held, non-disruptive equipment, together with the benefits they offer to the environment in comparison to concrete, helical screw piles have become a highly attractive option within the energy industry. Combining the production of renewable energy with recyclable steel foundations is both a rational and ecologically responsible decision.

4 Benefits of Grillage Foundations

Grillages are a framework of either single or double tiered beams, used to secure the foundations of a building (such as screw piles) to the structure itself so that it can spread safely across the ground above. As a result, grillages contribute to the equal and reliable distribution of the weight of the construction. They are a flexible solution with many benefits, including the fact that they eliminate the need to use unsustainable concrete.

We here at ScrewFast have many years’ experience both designing and installing grillages and we are more than happy to answer any questions you may have about them. In the meantime, here are the four main advantages.

  1. Simple, speedy installation

Without the need to pour concrete and wait for it to dry, installation of grillages is a lot simpler and less time consuming. In some cases, the process could take less than an hour and is much less disruptive to the surrounding infrastructure because it does not require such deep excavation.

  1. Environmentally friendly

Concrete is inexpensive and highly fire resistant, amongst various other advantages. Unfortunately, it also has many disadvantages. For example, concrete cannot be recycled, unlike steel grillages which can be removed from the ground and reused as many times as necessary, making them an extremely environmentally friendly option.

  1. Affordable

The materials and technology used in the manufacture and installation of grillages, along with more sustainable procedures and less man power, means they are a more economical choice of support system.

  1. Customisation

If necessary, you could have your grillages custom-built and the standard sized ones can be adapted to suit your project requirements, making them appropriate for a variety of applications. They can be used with any of our pile solutions. This level of versatility makes them a strong preference when compared with their traditional counterparts.

6 Tips to Protect the Foundation of Your Home

It’s easy to forget about the foundation of your home, especially since you can’t see it. However, if damage is caused to your foundation, you will more than likely experience damage to the rest of your home. Even the fanciest of properties can crack and leak if they are not built upon a solid foundation. Unfortunately, the repair costs don’t come cheap. That’s why it’s very important that you do all you can to protect your property. We have put together some tips for you:

  1. Avoid planting trees too close to your house. Although plants and shrubbery are lovely to look at, particularly during the spring and summer months, unfortunately the roots can damage your foundation.
  2. Water the trees around your home. If you fail to water the plants that surround your property sufficiently they could potentially soak up the water in the soil around your foundation and cause it to shrink.
  3. Ensure you have appropriate drainage. Every once in a while, make sure you clear away any debris that may have collected in your gutters to ensure that water flows through them correctly. They move rain water away from a foundation and if they become blocked, the overflow may cause damage.
  4. Check for pools of water after rain. If water collects after there has been substantial rain, clear it away and fill the area with dirt or gravel. This will control the moisture.
  5. Monitor changes in the area. Consider how any construction work in the area that could interfere with the foundations of your own property and take the necessary measures to counteract these problems.
  6. Water your landscape during summer. When the sun is out and the rain becomes infrequent, we recommended watering the land around your property to prevent the soil drying up and shrinking. This could cause your foundation to move and cause cracks in your walls.

Your Guide to Soil Types

When deciding which building foundation is most appropriate, one factor you must consider is the condition of the ground. An investigation of the soil should always be carried out before the design and construction of a new structure, so that you understand it’s bearing capacity. Will it be able to hold a heavy load without much movement or change in shape? You don’t want to build on the wrong type of soil and end up with cracks and leaks in your new structure. So, here is a brief guide to some of the many types of soil.

Chalk

You must bear in mind that chalk soils are disposed to erosion, so you should be cautious of things like caves and hollows. If the chalk is soft you must dig it out until stronger chalk is reached. Strip foundations are often used in chalk and they must be deeper than any frost action.

Clay

When it comes to clay soils, you must take extra care during excavation, particularly if there are some trees growing nearby. Throughout the year, the trees will interfere with the water content in the clay, causing it to shrink in summer and swell in winter. This, in turn, will disturb the foundations of your building and as a result, there are minimum foundation depths for each type of clay.

You may think that cutting down the nearby trees is a genius idea, however, in doing so the clay will not be able to contain the excess water during the rainier seasons and will expand significantly. Again, this results in structural damage. The best thing to do is dig below the area of clay that is affected by the trees and form your foundation there.

Rock

Types of rock such as limestone and sandstone have excellent bearing capacities, as they are strong and supportive. If the rock is even it will carry the foundation well, therefore you may need to strip it back and level it out.

Peat

This type of soil is usually black or dark brown in colour and is easy to compress due to the amount of water it can hold. Unfortunately, during the summer months peaty soil dries out and can potentially cause a fire. It is best not to build upon this type of soil, however, if it can be

Loam

Loam is the combination of sand, silt and clay and is actually the most ideal type of soil. As a result of its evenly balanced properties it’s great for supporting a structural foundation.

What to Consider When Choosing a Building Foundation

Foundations are a necessary component in spreading the load of a building safely across the ground. There are several factors that you ought to consider when determining the type of foundation you are going to build upon. These factors can vary from the condition of the ground to the structure of the building to nearby sewage systems. All are equally as important and none should be overlooked. So as long as you’re not too hasty with your decision, you will come to a suitable conclusion.

It’s very important that you understand the pros and cons of each type of foundation before you can possibly come to a conclusion. There are many advantages to using helical piles to support your building, for instance, such as the fact that they can be quickly and quietly installed with straightforward equipment. Alternatively, an advantage of concrete is that it’s highly resistant to fire.

When selecting a foundation it’s a great idea to base your decision on the success or failure of the foundations of neighbouring buildings, to determine what is likely to work for your own building and what you should avoid. It’s also important to make sure that the excavation for your new foundation does not weaken these nearby structures.

It’s also vital to consider the type of soil you will be building on and it’s bearing capacity, so that you know whether or not it will hold a large, heavy structure and what height and width the foundations should be. Make sure the strength of the soil is assessed sufficiently to determine how easily it moves or changes shape. When surrounding trees draw moisture from the ground with their roots, it may cause the soil to shrink (depending on the size of the tree and the type of soil). If you build on the wrong type of soil where this type of movement is likely to occur you will end up with cracks and leaks in your structure. The limited amount of ground vibration during installation is another advantage of helical piles.

Balfour Beatty Associate Highways England Osbourne Associate Kier Associate