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Are Helical Piers The Right Fix For Your Foundation?

Sam Smith Foundation Repair Consultant

helical pier to jack up a sinking foundation

If you are wondering whether helical piers are the best solution for your foundation problems, you have come to the right place!

In this Regional Foundation Repair guide, we will answer all your questions on helical piers, including:

  • What Are Helical Piers?
  • What’s the Difference Between Helical Piers and Other Foundation Repair Methods?
  • When Should You Use Helical Piers For Your Foundation?
  • What Are The Costs Involved With Helical Piers Installation?
  • How Can You Save Money When Installing Helical Piers?

And much more!

Are your foundation problems keeping you awake at night? Give us your project details in the form and we will connect you with one of our foundation repair specialists in your city. You could also keep reading to find out more about helical piers and whether they are the fitting solution for your foundation problems.

What Are The Signs Your Foundation Needs To Be Fixed?

If you are noticing the signs below, you should probably check your foundation as that is where the problem likely lies:

  • Cracks on your interior and exterior foundation walls
  • Door/window frames separating from the wall
  • Nails popping out of drywalls
  • Walls shifting out of plumb
  • Uneven floors
  • Doors out of square

foundation cracks

When the foundation of a home drops, sinks, or settles, it causes structural changes that will wreak havoc throughout your home. If left unaddressed, the cracks and other issues will only become more profound, and the result could be the collapse of your home.

Fortunately, even the most extensive foundation issues can be repaired with the right tools and expertise. Read on to know how our foundation repair experts can use foundation piers to fix your sinking foundation.

What Are Helical Piers?

In simple terms, a helical pier is a pipe shaft made of galvanized steel and concrete that is screwed into the soil and attached to the footing of a failing foundation to provide support. The shaft, which has helixes or plates along its length for extra support, is drilled into the soil using a hydraulic torque motor until it reaches a load-bearing soil level capable of supporting the weight of the structure.

A foundation bracket is then attached to the foot of the foundation and fastened to the top of the pier. This makes it possible to lift the foundation back to its original position using a hydraulic hose. After securing the helical piles in place, the excavation hole is sealed, and the site is ready for immediate use.

Our structural engineers will inspect your structure and determine the right depth and the number of piers necessary to offer sufficient support.

How Do Helical Piers Differ From Other Types Of Foundation Repair?

There are various methods of repairing damaged foundations, and the most appropriate one for your situation will depend on several factors. Choosing the correct method will not only provide a permanent solution for your foundation issues but also save you from unnecessary overhead costs.

Below are other methods of foundation repair and how they compare with the helical piering system:

Hydraulic Push Piers Vs. Helical Piers

As their name suggests, push piers are pipes or shafts pushed into the ground to provide additional support to the settling foundation. They work in the same way as helical piers in that they penetrate past the soft soil into the more steady, load-bearing strata to provide support to your home’s foundation and stop it from shifting.

The main difference between push and helical piers is in their installation process. A helical pier system works like a large screw that is drilled into the ground using a hydraulic torque or a rotating bit. Push piers, on the other hand, require that a bracket be first attached to the foundation footing. With the weight of the building acting as the resistance mass, a hydraulic ram is then used to push the steel piers into the ground until a stable soil layer is reached, and the foundation moves to the required level.

Since push piers depend on the weight of the building to drive the pipes into the ground, they are best suited for bigger, heavier constructions that will provide the required resistance mass.

Slabjacking Vs. Helical Piers

Slabjacking is a foundation repair technique that involves the injection of slurry (a mixture of cement, sand, and water) in mudjacking or polyurethane foam in poly jacking under a sunken concrete surface to raise it back to its original elevation. This is a light repair technique suitable for correcting sunken porches, repairing cracks on floors and walkways, leveling uneven patios, fixing sagging parking lots, and aligning misaligned sidewalk slabs, among other minor foundation problems.

Mudjacking is a quicker, more cost-effective, and less disruptive way of raising small concrete slabs to repair minor foundation issues. It is a simple process that most homeowners can diy with the right equipment. However, unlike helical piers, it is not suitable for correcting extensive foundation damage or lifting heavier structures.

Concrete Piers Vs. Helical Piers

Concrete piers are an alternative foundation repair method where instead of pushing pre-made pipes into the ground like in push and helical pier systems, the piers are made on site.

It involved digging a hole underneath the structure to be repaired, usually deep enough to reach stable soil. Concrete is then poured into the hole and left to cure for up to one week. After the concrete pier has cured, the structure is lifted with hydraulic jacks to its original position. More concrete or steel pipes are then used to connect the piles to the foundation, offering a stable surface for the structure to rest.

Compared to helical piers, concrete piers are more labor-intensive, messier, and take longer to complete. They are also more permanent in that once installed, they cannot be removed like in the case of helical piers, which can be pulled out if need be.

When Should Helical Piers Be Considered To Fix Your Foundation?

As perse and functional as helical piers are in repairing foundations, they are most effective when used appropriately. There are instances where helical piers will not work and others where they will be an overkill.

Below are some situations where helical piers will be the right foundation repair solution for you.

Addressing Foundation Problems Caused by the Compression of Underlying Soils

Changes in the soil below the foundation are usually the culprit behind most foundation problems. In areas with soft soils, compression forces from the house will cause the soil to shrink, causing parts of the foundation to sink. The result is problems such as the slanting of floors, cracking of walls, and the malfunction of doors and windows, among other issues.

Helical piers will penetrate past the soft soils and into the more stable soils with higher load-bearing capacities, limiting any lateral movement. The helical plates also ensure that the foundation remains in place despite changes in the underlying soils.

Foundation Lifting and Stabilization of Moderate Constructions

Helical piering systems are a versatile foundation repair method capable of resolving various issues. However, the weight of the building under repair will determine its effectiveness. For instance, it may not be the best choice for supporting light fixtures such as sidewalks. These would be repaired better by less intensive methods like mudjacking or poly jacking.

For structures that are too heavy, push piers will be a more efficient solution. This is because such constructions will provide the needed resistance to push the steel piers into the ground.

Helical piers are, therefore, perfect for structures that are too heavy to be lifted by slabjacking, but too light to be lifted by push piers.

Other uses of helical piers include:

  • Preparing sites for construction by ensuring that all the foundation components are supported regardless of the local soil condition.
  • Offering support when extending residential and commercial properties
  • Holding tiebacks in place to provide the needed support for walls and other structures.
  • Supporting auxiliary slabs and structures like patios, sheds, outbuildings, garages, balconies, mezzanines, parking covers, and pole barns.

What Are The Costs Involved With Helical Pier Installation?

If you are like most homeowners, you probably suspect there might be problems with your foundation but are afraid to look into it because of the price quotes you will encounter. After all, cost plays the most vital role in most construction projects.

While some projects can be costly, others are quite affordable and will not dig too deep into your pocket. The only way to be sure is to ask.

The average cost of installing helical piers ranges from $48 – $143 per foot, meaning a 25-foot helical pier will cost about $1200 – $3575. Of course, the specific price will depend on various factors. Below are some of these factors that you can use to estimate how much your project will cost to help you prepare accordingly.

Geographical Location of the Job Site

Different parts of the country will have different prices for the installation of helical piers. This is due to differences in altitude, types of soil, and distance to the water table, among other factors.

Typically, the Mid-Atlantic and Northwestern states sit on the higher price spectrum, whereas the Midwest and Plains states tend to have the lowest prices.

Ease of Accessing the Job Site

Repair areas free from obstructions will make it easier for the machines to maneuver, reducing the manual labor and the amount of time required to install the piers. In the same way, service areas containing decks, crawl spaces, driveways, or similar obstructing structures will make it difficult for the excavation machines to access, requiring more time and more manual work, hence higher costs.

The average cost of installing a pier system with digging machines will range from $1,100 to $1,500 per pier, whereas manual installation will range from $1,200 and $1,600 for every pier.

The Number of Helical Piers

The helical piers aim to create a load capacity capable of holding the whole structure in place. Therefore, a larger and heavier construction will require more piers to hold it in place, jerking up the costs.

Other factors such as the building code of your area and the type of structure you want to repair will also influence the number of piers you will need.

The Size and Type of the Helical Piers

The style, size, and diameter of the helical piers is what will determine their inpidual costs. Depending on the specific demands of your construction, our specialists will either use square or round shafts. These also come in different sizes, where the price generally increases with an increase in diameter.

The cost of the helical piers will also depend on whether they are grouted or without grout. Grouted Helical Piers are a relatively new development, where a column of grout is gravity-fed around the shaft to increase its stability, especially useful in softer soils.

The result is a significant increase in the rigidity of the column and the load-bearing capacity of the whole foundation, at only a slight increase in the overall costs.

The Soil Condition and Composition

To determine the size, number, design, and depth of piers suitable for your project, our specialists will take into consideration factors such as density, liquefaction, and buckling of the bearing layer, as well as the density of the upper fill layers.

If you are located in an area with softer soil with lots of organics or somewhere with a high water table, you will require more and bigger helical piles than areas with harder and drier soil.

The rockiness of the soil will also influence the cost of your project. A rocky area will require heavier and more specialized equipment and take longer, translating to higher overall costs.

The Depth of Installation

Different projects will require different depths before reaching the load-bearing soil level. This is why prices will differ according to geographical location. A house on the hill is further from the competent soil layer than one on a plain, requiring deeper drilling hence higher costs.

The size of your structure will also determine how deep the piers will reach. For smaller, lighter projects, a few feet will be enough to produce the torque required to support your foundation, whereas heavier structures will require deeper support.

As the depth of installation rises, so does the amount of time and material consumed by your project. We will need to use more pile extensions and heavier machinery, and our drill teams will spend more time on your site, increasing the overall cost.

Putting a price on it is the first step towards fixing your foundation problems. Fill in the form with the details of your project to get your estimates and our technicians will reach out to arrange a free no-obligation visit to your home.

How To Save Money When Installing Helical Piers

Foundation repair is no cheap business, and you should carefully consider all suggestions for cost savings. Below are some things you can do to keep the installation of helical piers cheaper:

Get it Fixed Asap!

Failure to fix a crack in your wall will lead to the need for a new wall in the future. As soon as you start noticing the telltale signs of foundation problems, you should have someone look into it. The longer you wait, the more extensive the damages will be, and the more you will have to pay.

Make the Right Calculations

As earlier discussed, the number, type, and size of your helical piers and the depth of installation are some of the factors that will determine how much you end up paying for your repair. Ensuring the dimensions of the shafts you use match the load requirement of your building will ensure you spend as little as possible without compromising on the stability of your foundation.

Let the Experts Handle It

Your foundation repair contractor is also an important factor in determining the cost of the repair. Experienced professionals like our specialists will examine your site carefully and make the necessary calculations to ensure you get the best quality of service at the fairest costs.

Feel free to reach out to us for any inquiries on helical piers, and our specialists will promptly answer your questions and help you find a suitable solution for your foundation settlement problems.

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Sam Smith Foundation Repair Consultant
SHORT BIO: Hey, I'm Sam Smith. I'm one of our service techs here at Regional Foundation Repair. I'm here to help you learn more about your home's foundation. I've been doing this for a while, so I have a few insider tips and tricks to share!

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