What are Steel Piers and how they differ from Helical Piers?
Steel Piers have many different names such as, Underpins, Push Piers, Resistance Piers, Pin Piles, Piles and Mini Piles. While the names and types of piers may vary, they all refer to a segmented structural steel piling which is hydraulically advanced to limestone.
Engineers recommend steel pier designs to stabilize the perimeter of your home or business which may have sustained damage from any number of factors such as; organic soils, shrink and swell clays, poor compaction, improper footer embedment, erosion, or sinkhole damage. In most cases the structure can be lifted back to a level position. The steel pier’s main function is the support and stabilization of the structure’s load by transferring the weight of the structure off the weaker soils and on to the steel piers.
Steel Piers differ from Helical piers in a few ways. One of the most important ways is how they are installed. When installing Steel Piers, they must be advanced to limestone in order to transfer the weight of the structure off the weak soils and onto the piers. Your home is used as a counter weight to drive the piers down. With each push down of the pier, you house may move slightly. Unlike Helical Piers, which do not move your house at all and use a separate mini excavator to reach limestone, steel piers may cause more cracking in trying to reach the necessary depth. However, cracks will most likely be slight and cosmetic in nature.
Keep in mind your home must be heavy enough to advance the piers as deep as they need to go to reach limestone. If this does not happen the pier will stop sort of limestone and the structure will not be repaired correctly. In time the skin friction of the soils on the piers will loosen the grip and the pier will be compromised, causing new cracks and new damage to occur. If your limestone is deep a Helical Pier may be the better repair type for you.
Another important consideration in choosing a Steel Pier is the type of steel which is being used. Since steel piers are relatively easy to make, many companies produce their own in their “backyard” or buy inferior materials from places like China. This means the strength of the steel could be equal to fence post material. Always look for the schedule of the steel, the higher the number the schedule is, the stronger the steel. Champion’s schedule 80 steel is the strongest in the business and can hold up to 120,000 lbs per pier. Steel piers can be a great repair if you remember 3 keys factors; make sure the right materials are being used, they are installed correctly, and your limestone is attainable.
Steel piers are one of the two most common types of structural pilling for residential foundation and sinkhole repair in use today.
The Installation Process:
- Once your Geotechnical Engineer’s repair design is reviewed, installation points are located around the property. These points are hand dug for Champion to gain access to the footer.
- Champion’s ULTrA bracket is set in place and squared to the bottom of the foundation.
- Champion’s dual hydraulic drive assembly is connected to the ULTrA bracket and lead pipe section and subsequent pipe sections are hydraulically driven deeper to the limestone layers. Driving is terminated when the pier stops it’s advance and the structure starts to lift.
- Champion’s lifting assembly is then connected to the top of the steel pier and the structure lifted back into its original state.
- After 15 minutes of load testing to make sure the pier is seated securely and has the weight of the structure fully transferred, the bracket is tightened up, bolted to the foundation, and lifting assembly is removed.
- The dirt from the holes, which was placed on tarps, is placed back in the excavation hole and compacted. Then new sod is laid over the installation points and fresh landscaping is installed.
Why use Champion to install my Steel Piers?
- Strength – The Fasteel Titan HDP steel pier system used by Champion Foundation Repair is one of the strongest underpin systems used in the industry today. As the schedule 80 pier is driven into the ground it can achieve forces of over 109,000 pounds and each bracket is tested prior to use to make sure it can handle 120,000 lbs with no damage.
- Portability – There is no large equipment needed to install steel piers on your property. Each hydraulic driving assembly is moved by wheelbarrow to the installation point from our truck in the street. The loudest noise you will hear on your property is like that of a lawnmower’s engine outside.
- Instant Confirmation – With our lifting procedures, we know within 15 minutes whether or not the pier is seated in good stabile material or in a temporary resistance zone which may lose strength later on.
- Training– All of Champions personnel receive state of the art training on installation and trouble shooting. Since every house is built different, your home may have special circumstances, which require extra attention. We never sub-contract, only professionals will be on your project.
- Landscaping– Champion replaces sod, mulch, rocks, and plants as need if they are disrupted during the repair process.
- Engineers– The engineers Champion works with take great care in the planning of your repair. We will never ask you to move your A/C, pool pump, or water softener. We always work around these items.
- Made in the USA– The Fasteel line is manufactured in St Louis MO, not imported from other countries, ensuring a American mill direct solid steel every time.
- Security – All of Champion Foundation Repair’s steel piers includes an exclusive limited lifetime warranty for its material and workmanship. Some companies choose one or the other, your repair is a package deal. These piers are easy to install and easy to maintain if needed in the future.
Fore more information on Steel Piers contact us.
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