Design, Specification And Installation Of Square Shaft Helical Piers In Expansive Soils

Pack, John S.
Organization: Deep Foundations Institute
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2007
The application of square shaft helical piers in expansive soils is a standard of practice in many areas of the United States. Over 20 years of performance monitoring show exceptional performance and economy will result if proper design procedures, specification requirements and installation procedures are followed. This is true for new foundations and the repair of existing foundations, including lightly loaded wood-frame structures on expansive soils. Proper design includes: 1) site geotechnical characterization, 2) pier layout such that each pier is loaded to its maximum design capacity, 3) maximize spans between piers, 4) minimize the number of piers, 5) isolate the structure from the expansive soil with an appropriate void zone below all grade beams, slabs or other components that would otherwise be in soil contact and 6) utilize only single helix piers. Proper specification employs a performance specification that specifies: 1) the design load on each pier with a suitable safety factor, 2) the minimum installation torque, typically 4,000 ft-lbs (5.4 kN-m), or refusal, 3) a minimum pier shaft steel Fy = 70 to 90 ksi (483 to 621 Mpa) and pier helix steel Fy = 80 ksi (552 Mpa), 4) 1.5 to 1.75 inch (38.1 to 44.5 mm) square shafts, 5) smooth shaft surface, 6) the ICC Evaluation Report (ER) number of the manufacturer and 7) the manufacturer ISO 9001 certification for material quality control. Proper installation requires: 1) equipment with sufficient axial compression force (crowd) on the pier shaft so the helix engages the soil and advances to the specified minimum installation torque or refusal, 2) additional specialized techniques for expansive soils and 3) qualified specialty helical pier installation contractors experienced in expansive soils who submit and utilize pier configurations, techniques and equipment that will most effectively and economically meet the specified performance.
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