What Are Helical Piles?

March 7, 2022

Helical piles are segments that make up a larger, deeper foundational system. They consist of helical bearing plates that are welded to a central shaft. The load they bear is then transferred from the shaft to the soil through those helical bearing plates. As a result of their helical shape, the helicals don’t puncture and disrupt the soil, but rather they screw into it with minimal disturbance.

The first section of a helical piling system, known as the lead section, contains the helical plates. The lead section can consist of 1-4 helicals. If required, additional helicals can be added with the use of extensions. Then, plain extensions are added until the lead section penetrates the bearing strata and the necessary torque is achieved.

Perhaps the concept of these products sounds familiar, but you’ve never heard them referred to as “helical piles.” That’s because helical piles are also commonly referred to as screw piles, helical piers, helical anchors, screw anchors, and helical foundations. Although there are many different names, they all refer to the same product and can be used interchangeably.

What Are Helical Piles Used For?

As mentioned above, helical piles are used to provide strong, stable foundational solutions for structures of all shapes and sizes. This versatility makes them ideal for a number of specialized, industrial construction applications, including (but not limited to):

  • Industrial (e.g. petrochemical, pulp-and-paper, refining, storage facilities, etc.)
  • Oil & Gas (e.g. pipelines, compressor stations, well-sites, facilities, etc.)
  • Transmission & Distribution (e.g. power plants, cellular towers, battery storage, etc.)
  • Marine (e.g. pipeline buoyancy control, river crossings, riparian washouts, etc.)
  • Commercial (e.g. schools, shopping centers, docks, bridges, etc.)

What Are the Benefits of Helical Piles?

When compared to more traditional foundation types, the performance of helical piles is undoubtedly superior. No matter the scope of the project, helical piles offer many amazing benefits, including the main four listed below:

Efficient Installation

When enforcing a new structure, or reinforcing an existing one, time is of the essence. Helical piles offer an extremely fast installation process. In most cases, each pile only takes minutes to install, so a complete foundational system could be installed in just hours or days. And once they’re installed, they’re ready for immediate use; there’s no need to wait for them to set.

How is it so fast? Well, its quick turnaround time is mostly due to the fact that no soil excavation is required. This also means that helical piles can be installed in all weather conditions, as well as in limited-access and remote locations.

Outstanding Durability

Composed of rust-resistant galvanized steel, helical piles are expected to last over a hundred years — even as they support extremely heavy structural loads.

Instant Load Bearing Capacity

Helical piles offer instant load-bearing capacity to support structures of all shapes and sizes, sometimes accommodating hundreds of tons or more! Helical piling experts will evaluate your site and determine the verified capacity needed for each pile — all of which is based on your project goals and the surrounding environment.

Low Environmental Impact

Helical piles can be installed within minutes, and they can be removed just as quickly. If your project reaches a point where foundational support is no longer required, the helical piles can easily be removed and repurposed for your next application — leaving minimal to no environmental impact.

Have more questions about helical piles and how they could benefit your next construction project? Elite Helical can help! With 50+ years of combined industry experience, our experts are highly knowledgeable and ready to provide the answers you need. Give us a call or contact us online today.

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From design, to supply, to installation, Elite Helical is your trusted turnkey helical pile contractor. With versatile tools and excellent customer service, we can provide an effective solution for your project.

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