Many contractors already know about the tremendous advantages offered by using helical piles (or screw piles) as foundations for homes and buildings. But there are many more ways to use helical piles than just securing large structures in a variety of soil conditions. Some of these innovative applications are beginning to find favor with knowledgeable construction professionals and general contractors around the country.
Benefits of Using Helical Piles
It has long been known that helical piles are an ideal system to use in locations where the type of soil makes a traditional foundation more risky. Many residents of New Jersey discovered after Hurricane Sandy that helical piles could be used to great advantage for elevating their homes above storm surge levels, providing a level of safety and peace of mind.
Since installation of helical piles is generally much quicker than other deep foundation solutions, many builders appreciate using them when time constraints are involved with their construction projects. In neighborhoods of existing housing, where there is little room between buildings for equipment to operate, helical piles can be a much easier install than a conventional foundation. The same is true for foundation repair work – helical piles can be installed much more easily in confined spaces.
Helicals are an ideal solution when building on water or wetlands. For typical construction, when building on good, dry soil, traditional concrete foundations are a cost-effective choice, but in certain situations, where the ground will be less accepting of concrete, screw piles are the perfect alternative.
Unlike most other foundation methods, helical piles can also be removed and recycled with very little effort. Since, in many cases, they were only screwed into the ground in the first place, it is only necessary to ‘un-screw’ them, and use them again somewhere else. The versatility provided by helical piles is unmatched in building circles, since they can be easily configured to adapt to removable structures, and provide tremendous value however they’re being used.
Finding New Ways to Use Helical Piles
The truth is, there are endless ways to use helical piles whenever any kind of anchoring or foundation is needed for structures large or small. In fact, they are fast changing the way that foundations are installed for many structures. It may be a cliché, but the only real limitation is a builder’s imagination and creativity. Here are some non-traditional ways we use helical piles…
When fencing posts or deck foundations are attached to helical piles – they aren’t going anywhere. Even when fencing has to be setup in some marshy or soft soils, the fence posts can be attached to the mounting brackets on helical piles secured deep in the ground, where a stable layer of soil exists. Not only is there stability for the posts, but maximum support is also delivered.
As the demand for clean energy increases, so does the need for expansive solar farms around the country. There are a few fast, reliable, and cost-effective methods to anchor free-standing solar arrays, including h-piles and helical piles. Both are capable of withstanding tremendous stresses applied by tensile, compressive, and lateral forces. With no real need for concrete, they can be installed very quickly, allowing more time for the other aspects of solar array construction.
When expanding an existing solar farm, it may be difficult to navigate big, pile-driving equipment around existing solar arrays. In cases like this, the small, agile machinery required to drive helical piles may be the only option. A mini-excavator is usually all that’s necessary.
Of all the potential ways to use helical piles, you might not immediately think of a playground. However, anchoring a modern playground couldn’t be simpler than using helical piles. Mounting bracket can connect to the installed piles before securing the recreational equipment. With a totally reliable anchoring system, a playground can be made safe from all manner of forces which might act on it, and when children’s safety is an issue, total reliability is always the first priority.
When you setup party tents in the same location time and time again for a recurring event, or series of events, it makes sense to provide a more permanent anchoring system for those party tents. The perfect solution to the problem is to install however many helical piles are needed to accommodate the number of tents which get erected, and simply attach the tents to the semi-permanent helical piles. Not only will there be great stability for the tents, but it won’t be necessary to re-invent the wheel for each year’s setup. As an added bonus, by using semi-permanent piles, certain styles of tents may allow you to eliminate or reduce the number of wires for patrons to trip over.
Boardwalks are generally located in close proximity to some body of water, usually an ocean, and that makes securing them a bit of a challenge. Not a problem for an experienced helical pile installer. The boardwalk structure itself can be safely installed well above the normal water line, and can be attached with brackets to the piles. Flood-prone areas may even be zoned to mandate helical pile usage in the future, because they are so effective at anchoring structures on or around water. Also important to note is the eco-friendliness of helical piles for wetland boardwalks. It’s unmatched by other foundation methods, as there’s no grout necessary, no spoils from drilling and only the piles are left behind. As a result, the project has a very low environmental impact and poses no threat to surrounding wildlife.
Innovating Foundations Everywhere
Granted, not all projects are appropriate ways to use helical piles. But they are an incredibly useful and effective solution when construction needed to start yesterday. This is especially true for above-grade structures, when building on sites near water, and on projects with access limitations which can hinder larger machinery.
Conte Company has a line of Shallow Helical Piles, which cost less to produce and install than their larger counterpart. These shorter piles work in exactly the same way and are a great solution for all sorts of light-structure foundations. Our subsidiary company, Innovative Foundation Systems, specializes in pile foundations for fencing and solar, as well as other applications where concrete has traditionally been used. Contact us for more information.