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Top 10 Questions and Fun FAQs About Helical Piles

Unless you're an expert in the field or have done a lot of research on helical piles, it's unlikely that you have delved into the depths of knowledge surrounding helical piles. But don’t worry! We've compiled a list of the 10 most asked questions and facts that will broaden your understanding and satisfy your curiosity. If you're considering helical piles for your project, you may have some questions about their installation, uses, and environmental impact and this article should help to shine some light. However, if you find yourself yearning for more information, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're always happy to help you expand your knowledge on this subject.

1. What are the Different Uses of Helical Piles?

Helical piles have become increasingly popular in residential/commercial construction projects due to their many benefits. One of the main uses of helical piles in residential projects is for foundation support. If your project requires a foundation, a helical can most likely be used. We use helical piles for decks, sunrooms, house additions, sheds, cottages, carports, roof structures, concrete grade beam supports, retaining walls and more. In addition, helical piles can be used for underpinning existing foundations that are experiencing settlement or other issues. With their versatility and strength, it's no wonder that helical piles have become a go-to solution for many residential construction projects.

2. How Reliable are Helical Piles?

Helical piles are extremely reliable as a foundation solution highly reliable foundation solutions when installed correctly by an experienced and certified installer. They have been used successfully for over 175 years and have been proven to withstand extreme weather conditions, soil movements, and seismic events. The structural integrity and durability of helical piles come from their unique design, which allows them to create a solid foundation by transferring loads from the structure to the load bearing beneath the ground. With proper installation and regular maintenance, helical piles can last for decades, providing a safe and reliable foundation solution for various construction projects. Additionally, their load capacity can be verified using torque monitoring during the installation which makes it more reliable than a concrete foundation.

3. How Deep Can Helical Pile Installation Be?

Typically, helical piles are installed around 6-7 feet deep in the Ottawa area to be installed below the frost line to make sure piles don’t heave. With bigger projects that require high load-bearing capacity, we can drill piles down to bedrock 125-150 ft deep to rest them directly on the bedrock. Deep foundation solutions are often required for structures built on loose soil or very high loads, and helical piles can provide a reliable solution for these situations.

4. What’s the Spacing Between Piles & What Size Helical Piles are Needed for Deck Footings?

As a general rule, helical piles are spaced at a distance of 8 to 12 feet apart for a regular deck.

The size and number of helical piles needed for deck footings depend on the size of your deck, the support it requires, and other conditions of the structure. It will also vary depending if there are additional special features on top of your deck such as a hot tub, a roof, a built/in kitchen or fireplace, etc. We always suggest consulting a Postech expert to review your project and provide you with accurate information.

5. Are Helical Piles Costly to Install?

Helical piles are a cost-effective foundation solution. The cost of installing helical piles can vary depending on several factors such as the depth and size of the piles, soil conditions, accessibility to the site, and labor costs. However, in general, helical piles are often considered a cost-effective foundation solution. They can be installed quickly using small equipment and increase productivity, reducing labor costs and making the project more efficient and cost-effective. Additionally, they can be installed in any weather condition and do not require significant cleanup. The upfront cost of helical piles may vary depending on factors such as the location of the site, type of structure, type of task, condition of the existing foundation, and depth required for installation. Additionally, helical piles do not require curing time like traditional concrete foundations, which means that construction projects can continue immediately after installation.

6. Are helical piles CCMC approved and accepted by the city of Ottawa for a foundation solution?

In Canada, the Canadian Construction Materials Centre (CCMC) is responsible for evaluating and certifying construction products for compliance with the National Building Code of Canada. Postech piles are CCMC approved because they meet the necessary criteria and testing requirements. The Postech Piles are approved by the Ontario Building Code and meet all requirements for a foundation solution based on their performance and compliance with local regulations. The city of Ottawa will approve a building permit if you are using Postech Piles with the proper engineering documents to support the size of the pile and the torque required for each pile.

7. How do Helical Piles Affect the Environment?

Helical piles have several environmental benefits compared to other foundation systems. They can be installed with minimal disturbance to the surrounding environment and do not require the use of cement, which is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Helical piles can also be easily removed and reused for future construction projects, reducing waste and the need for new materials. Their manufacturing process requires less energy, resulting in a lower carbon footprint. Helical piles provide a stable foundation for structures, which reduces the likelihood of soil erosion and prevents damage to the surrounding environment. Overall, helical piles can be an environmentally-friendly foundation solution that reduces the impact on the environment.

8. Helical Piles Can Be Used for a Variety of Applications

Helical piles are a versatile foundation solution that can be used for a variety of applications from very small such as supporting a mailbox all the way to bridges and wind turbines. They are commonly used as foundations for decks, cottages, additions, homes, buildings, and bridges, as well as for communication/cell towers and wind turbines. The adaptability of helical piles makes them an ideal solution for projects where the soil conditions are challenging or where traditional foundation systems are not feasible. Additionally, helical piles can be installed quickly and efficiently, reducing project timelines and costs. This makes them a popular choice for both commercial and residential projects.

9. Helical Piles Are Installed Using a Hydraulic Torque Motor That Rotates The Pile Into The Ground Like a Large Screw

Helical piles are installed using a hydraulic torque motor that rotates the pile into the ground like a large screw. The torque motor applies a twisting force to the pile shaft, causing it to penetrate the soil and create a stable foundation. The installation process does not require excavation or soil displacement, making it less disruptive to the surrounding environment. The hydraulic torque motor can be operated using a portable power unit, which allows for easy installation in remote locations or areas with limited access. The speed and efficiency of the installation process make helical piles a cost-effective and time-saving foundation solution.

10. What Happens if You Hit a Rock During The Installation of Helical Piles

Hitting a rock with a helical pile during installation can cause some challenges, but it does not necessarily mean that the pile cannot be installed successfully. When a rock is encountered during installation, we have a few options.

1- In some cases, depending on the project layout and construction details, the pile location could be moved to a different where the soil conditions are more favorable.

2- Depending on the size of the work/debris, the installer may use specialized equipment, such as a rock bit drill bit to grind the rock or be able to push the rock aside depending on its size.

3- The last option, since Postech Piles uses a mini-excavator to drill the piles into the ground, we can easily remove our auger drill attachment and excavate the rock/debris out of the way.

It's important to note that hitting a rock during helical pile installation is not uncommon, and our experienced Postech Pile installers have the knowledge and equipment to handle these situations. They will typically assess the situation and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that the helical piles are installed correctly and safely.

In conclusion, helical piles offer a versatile and efficient solution for various construction and foundation projects. With their unique design, they are reliable, durable, and cost-effective. From residential to commercial applications, helical piles have proven to be an environmentally friendly and safe choice. By addressing the top 10 questions and fun FAQs about helical piles, we hope to have provided you with valuable insights into their benefits and uses. If you have any more questions or need more information, do not hesitate to reach out to us, we are happy to answer all your questions and help you with your projects.


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