Helical Piers

What Are Helical Piers?

Helical piers have a long history, dating back over a hundred plus years, but have become more widely known and used within the last 20 years.  Helical piers are basically a steel pipe that has up to four steel plate spirals welded onto it, similar to an auger.

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The helical pier is screwed into the ground with a hydraulic torque motor. Depending on the soil composition and weight that needs to be supported, the helical pier can go as deep as necessary by adding on extensions. They are typically installed to depths below the frost line, which is the depth where the soil freezes during cold weather. This ensures that the foundation remains stable and unaffected by seasonal frost heave.

For lighter structures such as a deck or screen porch, a single helical pier is typically superior to concrete foundations since concrete foundations/footings in Minnesota can fail due to several factors:



  1. Frost heave: Minnesota experiences freezing temperatures during winter, which can cause the ground to freeze and expand. This phenomenon, known as frost heave, exerts significant pressure on foundations, leading to cracks, shifting, and structural instability.
  2. Soil movement: Certain types of soil in Minnesota, such as expansive clay soils, can undergo significant expansion and contraction due to changes in moisture content. This movement can exert pressure on the foundation, leading to cracks and structural damage.
  3. Hydrostatic pressure: High groundwater levels or poor drainage can result in hydrostatic pressure against the foundation walls. The continuous pressure from water can cause cracks, leaks, and even structural failure if not properly managed.
  4. Poor construction practices: Inadequate reinforcement, insufficient concrete strength, improper compaction, or substandard construction techniques can weaken the foundation and make it more susceptible to failure over time.
  5. Aging and deterioration: Over the years, concrete foundations can deteriorate due to various factors like freeze-thaw cycles, chemical reactions, corrosion of reinforcing steel, and natural wear and tear. As the foundation weakens, it becomes more vulnerable to failure.
  6. Improper site preparation: If the site is not properly prepared before the construction of the foundation, issues like poor soil compaction, inadequate grading, or improper drainage can arise, which can negatively affect the long-term stability of the foundation.

Helical piers have proven to be a valuable solution in the Minnesota construction industry for both new projects and foundation repairs

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