Durable and safe
There are many reasons why helical piles provide a better solution
than concrete. For structures likely to experience lateral
loading from forces such as wind, snow or gravity from
slope angle, concrete foundations can fail along the perpendicular
force line. In addition, the dynamic vertical weight
bearing experienced on chairlifts requires compression capacity.
Helical piles address both engineering challenges.
When installing in certain soils or rock ledges, consideration
should be given to the settle point where the screw
reaches its end. It is difficult to know the final angle of the
mounting structure; i.e. where it will be positioned. At Steamboat,
the crew created a slotted mounting plate for the poles,
which allowed rotation to orient the mounting brackets at
the right angle to the slope. This design added a small and
justifiable cost to the otherwise generic pole.
At some locations, new chairlifts are being installed and
others are being moved. Had helical piles been used during
the original installation, major problems now could have
been avoided. Most notably: How to deal with the old concrete
piles? Removal is difficult and expensive. Leaving the
piles can be unsightly and may not conform to remediation
requirements in forest and parkland areas. As mentioned, helical
piles can simply be unscrewed.
Worried about frost heaving? Some helical piles are available
with heavy-duty polyethylene sleeves that guard against
ground movement. Almost any loading condition can be accommodated
by varying pile materials, diameter and depth.
This is particularly important in high altitude locations
where permafrost conditions can exist and there is concern
about potential thawing and/or heaving.
Having mentioned speedy installation, consider that helical
piles can be in place with just a few full rotations. A helical
pile can be in the ground and ready for loading in less than a
minute; try that with concrete! Load testing can be immediate
upon installation; no waiting days, weeks or even more
than a month as with traditional concrete piles. As they say,
“Time is money.”
Simply put, a
helical pile is a
large screw that
into the ground,
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Indeed, excavation isn’t only time consuming and expensive,
it’s messy. Helical piles use less equipment, are neat and
well organized at the job site, and there is no clean-up; they
are a clean install.
It’s also important to note that concrete curing emits large
amounts of carbon dioxide; 900 kilograms of CO2 are emitted
for every ton of cement fabricated. Helical piles are more environmentally
friendly because metal fabrication emits only
a fraction of this amount for the same utility.
To be sure, helical piles may not be right for every project.
The point is that their implementation should be considered
for infrastructure projects to see the potential cost savings,
and have a more flexible and durable end result. There are
many sources for helical piles, also known as “screw piles”
or “H-piles.” A simple internet search should give all the resources
needed for an upcoming project. If it happens to be a
new chairlift or building, make sure to ask if helical piles can
be used instead of concrete.
32 September 2019 | snowopsmag.com