How Do Helical Piers Work?

Our planet gives us everything we need to prosper including the ground under our feet to build our homes and skyscrapers. Our world is a big place, and what’s under your feet in one area could be different than what’s under your feet in another. Not all dirt underneath is suitable to build on but we’re humans, we figured a way around that with helical piers. Let’s review how helical piers work with a simple experiment you can do in your own home.

Here’s How Helical Piers Work

Using piles or piers to reinforce poor soil for a building is nothing new and different civilizations have used foundation reinforcement for centuries. Helical piers differ from traditional wood or concrete pilings in that they are constructed from metal, are shaped like a helix (this is why they’re also known as screw piers or “earth screws,”) lightweight, and are easier to install than traditional pilings.

So how do they work? Grab your kids and do this simple experiment.

What Do You Need to Get Stated

  • Topsoil
  • Screw shaped pasta (rotini or fusilli)
  • Bucket or container
  • A small weighted object like a stone (square or rectangular objects are better)

Fill the container with topsoil, don’t pack it down, and place the weighted object on top. Apply gentle pressure to the object and see how far it sinks into the soil. You can measure or eyeball it. Remove the object, empty the dirt and refill the container. Now twist a few pieces of pasta underneath the top of the soil and place the object back on top. Press with the same pressure and mark how far it sunk. In most cases, you will find the depth that the object sinks are shallower than without the pasta.

The pasta provides more support, friction, points of contact, and further reinforcement to the soil which means your object won’t sink as much. The scale and engineering are much more involved in real-life helical piers, but the idea is the same. This makes helical piers ideal for foundation reinforcement, foundation repair, and other structural and building issues.

If you have issues with soil quality or if your foundation is giving you problems don’t think you need to scrap your plans or scrap your home, turn to helical piers to help you out with your foundation. What works in your little experiment can work for your home.

If you’re not sure how to repair your foundation on your own, consider Colorado Structural Repair to help you with your foundation needs.

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