The History of Helical Piles

Cantsink is a world-renowned helical pile manufacturing company that has provided our uniquely designed helical piles to foundation installers and piling companies since 1988. You may be surprised to learn that the development of the helical pile has its foundations in the mid 1800’s.

Helical piles, also known as screw piles or screw anchors, have a rich and varied history as reliable foundation materials dating all the way back to the mid 1800s. Straight, wooden piles were the standard for quite some time, and as you can imagine, these required time-consuming and tiring upkeep. 

An Irish civil engineer named Alexander Mitchell was the first known author of a piece regarding the helical pile, and thus its invention was attributed to him. It was published in the The Civil Engineer and Architect’s Journal in 1848. He went into great detail about this wrought or cast iron pile and its helix shape, capable of pressurizing and stabilizing even the most poor quality soil by being screwed into the earth. Mitchell remarked on how helical piles were then primarily being used by foundation installers for the support of professional nautical accessories such as piers and lighthouses.

Their durability and ease of installation made them a popular choice, but the stability they offered in otherwise unstable and lower quality soils was what really sealed their championed use. Soon after, moorings and railway bridges were using helical piles in their foundations as well, and Alexander Mitchell decided to patent the helical pile. Within the patent, he recorded that the helical pile is typically installed with human strength, but its installation was aided in the past by animals, like donkeys and horses. 

By the early 1900s, exciting new findings in agricultural science, particularly around soil and irrigation, spurred folks on to use helical piles for fencing and farming. Over the next 50 years, helical piles were found to be majorly beneficial in the construction of anchors, tower legs, and pipelines. Today, it’s common knowledge that steel helical piles are the most cost-effective, simple-to-install, reliable, and durable foundation application for almost any structure.

To learn more about helical piles and their uses in the foundation repair and construction industries today, reach out to Cantsink, a helical pile manufacturing company, trusted by foundation installers across the country. Cantsink’s unique, patented helical design made of 100% steel and 50% stronger than other helix designs.

For more information, please call (678) 280-7453 or email info@cantsink.com.

Upcoming Cantsink Webinar Series

Cansink is hosting a three-part webinar series for engineers in December. The sessions will be led by Moncef Souissi Ph.D., senior geotechnical engineer for Cantsink. To access a link to the programs and receive CE credits, participants must register by contacting Andrew Carter at acarter@cantsink.com or (770) 616-8274.

Dec. 10, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. (EST)
Helical Pile 101: Introduction into the use of helical piles
including applications, load verification, testing, certification, and much more.

Dec. 14, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. (EST)
Helical Pile Design Part 1: An in-depth look at helical
pile use and design.

Dec. 17, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. (EST)
Helical Pile Design Part 2: A continuation of helical
pile use and design.

For more information visit cantsink.com/events.

Helical Piles, Piers, and Anchors: The Same, but Different

The ability of any structure to remain standing―whether a backyard shed or the Empire State Building― depends upon the strength of its foundation. When the base of a building is compromised, the walls will come tumbling down.

When you hear the term foundation anchor, think tie-back (guy wire or tension rod). Anchors are similar to piles; they’re driven into the soil, but are more specific to tension loads to mitigate situations of uplift or collapsing walls (retaining walls or basement walls falling either away or into the structure).

 While our helical piles, piers and anchors are all utilized for foundation stabilization , the differences between them makes a ton of difference in their use.

Piers are typically made of concrete, and like piles and anchors, are embedded into soil that has a firm strata, such as bedrock. They protrude upward from the soil, and are used primarily for smaller applications, such as single homes, detached garages, and sheds―more to bear the load of the supported structure than to anchor it, stabilize it, or to fend off uplift tension.

Piles, on the other hand, are made of metal, and often resemble huge screws. They are driven deep into the soil to find sufficient support below unstable substrate, and act to hold up the structure as well as to stabilize it. They are intended for greater loads, such as multistory buildings and bridges, but they can be, and often are, used for any size structure that sits in soil prone to settlement or subsidence, or structures subject to uplift tension.

At Cantsink, our patented helical piles provide unmatched foundation stabilization. They are ICC-certified and are easily installed with basic skid steer and excavator equipment you’ve probably got on-site, which means you’ll get the job done without compromising your deadline. As a foundation stabilization solution, our helical piles, piers, and anchors bring your project―commercial or residential―into the 21st century.

For more information, please call (678) 280-7453 or email info@cantsink.com.

Cantsink Helical Anchors: The Primary Choice for Retaining Walls

Cantsink helical pile anchors have numerous applications in the design and installation of earth retention systems such as retaining walls, which can be categorized as one of four types: tieback, reticulated, counterfort, and buttress walls. All these types can be designed using helical piles. However, helical tieback walls probably comprise the most predominant use of these products for construction of retaining walls, such as basement walls, which are increasing in demand due to the population increase in the communities. Tiebacks are mainly designed to provide support against lateral forces created by soil and water pressure, which can cause walls to bow, crack or allow water intrusion.

The ultimate anchor capacity is determined using the same general equations for bearing capacity of a helical pile. Tieback vertical placement depends on the soil height against the wall. Cantsink recommends that they be installed close to any horizontal crack or bow in the wall. Minimum vertical and axial embedment are required to avoid a shallow mode of failure. The axial embedment requirement will vary depending on the project specifics. We recommend a minimum axial embedment of at least five times the shallowest helical bearing plate diameter beyond the potential failure plane. Our anchors are typically installed at a 10 to 15-degree angle from the horizontal.

The number of anchors needed depends on the soil type, anchor specification, and the soil loading on the adjacent properties. The most common types of anchors are concrete mixed grouted steel tendons and helical anchors. As described below, Cantsink helical piles are more cost-effective and more advantageous than grouted anchors.

Cantsink helical tieback anchors are easily and quickly installed into retained soil with readily available construction equipment and reduced labor cost. With Cantsink helical pile anchors, there is no excavation, no spoils and no need for dewatering. Cantsink helical pile anchors and earth retention systems can be installed in any weather and can maximize flexibility when changing soil conditions are encountered (they can be adjusted in the field to meet specified load resistance requirements). During helical anchor installation, torsional resistance can be used as an indication of encountered soil properties that can relate to anchor load capacities and help prevent overstress. In addition, the measured torque is used to estimate the anchor’s capacity, using the well-known capacity-torque correlation. This quality control measure will ensure more successful load tests on-site, and will save time and money. Once the installation is complete, Cantsink anchors can be tensioned immediately and tested without waiting for grout cure or grout equipment. By eliminating the cure times and the additional equipment cost associated with concrete mixed grouted tendons, using our products saves a significant amount of project time and considerable cost compared to grouting anchors. Finally, Cantsink helical pile anchors are ICC-ES approved products, which means that they are code compliant.

Cantsink products are manufactured in metro Atlanta using the company’s patented design and 100 percent recycled U.S. steel. Cantsink’s manufacturing facility is a net-zero energy operation using solar energy to power its complex. Our products are certified to perform to the highest standards established through the International Code Council (ICC). The ICC is an independent, member-focused association dedicated to developing model codes and standards.

To learn more about helical piles, sign up for Cantsink’s free webinars and receive continuing education credits through NCSEA and AIA. Find out what effective, economical helical piles can do to provide lasting stability for retaining walls.

For more information, please call (678) 280-7453 or email info@cantsink.com.

Cantsink’s Helical Piles Provide Extensive New Construction Support for Pooler IMAX Theater

One of the most important details of a new construction project is making sure the project is built on a stable surface. While factors such as weather, climate and soil stability come into play, Cantsink provides the best contractor support and helical pile/pier options for every phase of the project. Helical pile foundation systems are a cost-effective solution that ensures soil stability and can be installed in just about any project of any scale.

Soft fill and a coastal climate provided challenges for the engineering team leading the expansion of the IMAX Theater in Pooler, Ga. Cantsink used helical piles to provide stability in increasingly wet conditions. While some column loads exceeded 800,000 pounds and significant lateral capacities came into play, Cantsink met the challenge, using multiple helical piles to solve this challenge and provide continuous support in the wet climate and sandy soil of this coastal location.

Click here to read more details about the Pooler IMAX Theater Project (//www.cantsink.com/helical-pile-case-study/anytime-fitness-cleveland-ga-3/)

As in the case of the Pooler IMAX Theater, Cantsink is able to read conditions specific to any job site and customize the best helical pile program for every project. With 30 years of new construction support experience, Cantsink helical piers assure structural stability for the life of the building – even through standing water.

Features of Cantsink Helical Piles:

  • 100% Steel: Unique, patented helical design that is 50 percent stronger than other helix designs.
  • Net-zero Energy: The Cantsink headquarters and manufacturing facility are both net-zero energy operations.
  • Fast and easy to install: With typical skid steer or excavator equipment.
  • No ground vibrations: Resulting in no disturbance of the subsurface.
  • American Made: Manufactured in Cantsink’s Metro Atlanta facility.
  • Patented, ICC-certified Products

Contact the Cantsink team today to hear how its patented helical piles can provide long-term stability and support for your new construction project. (//www.cantsink.com/contact-us/)

ICC-ES Approved Helical Pile Product: What does it mean?

There are several construction products, such as helical piles and piers, that are advertised as ICC-ES approved products. What does that mean to the end user?

In this article, we will briefly describe ICC-ES, the process used to obtain an ESR report, and the purpose of it. ICC-ES, a subsidiary of ICC (International Code Council), is a nonprofit independent company accredited by the American National Standards Institute and by the Standards Council of Canada under ISO/IEC Guide 17065 (Conformity assessment – requirements for bodies certifying products, processes, and services). ICC-ES provides technical evaluations of construction products, components, methods, and materials, according to acceptance criteria that are based on code requirements and international standards (//www.iccsafe.org/products-and-services/codes-standards/). ICC-ES is the most recognized evaluation agency in North America.

For the evaluation of our helical pile and pier products, ICC-ES uses AC358 (acceptance criteria for helical pile systems and devices) issued in 2007. Per AC358, there are four requirements to obtain an ESR: submittal of helical pile product test results, calculations per code requirements, quality documentations, and follow-up inspections. The required testing, both lab and field, must be conducted by a testing lab accredited per the international standard (ISO 17025). Product design capacities and strength calculations must be determined according to the applicable codes. The helical pile and pier manufacturer seeking an ICC-ES report, must have a quality manual in place (approved by ICC-ES), and it must be effectively implemented throughout the production process – from incoming material to the final product – before it is shipped to the end user. The inspection of the manufacturer’s plant is conducted twice per year by an agency that must be accredited per the international standard (ISO 17020). Once all the requirements are submitted and the product for the evaluation is found to be compliant with code requirements, ICC-ES will publish a report to that effect and make the report available to the public. An ICC-ES evaluation report provides evidence that a construction product complies with the applicable codes, and therefore helps agencies that enforce building regulations, and the building industry in general.

Cantsink helical pile and pier products were tested by an independent testing laboratory (CTL | Thompson, certificate TL-342) that is accredited by IAS (International Accreditation Service), evaluated by an independent evaluation services agency known for its impartiality and technical expertise (ICC-ES), and is being inspected twice a year by an inspection agency accredited by IAS (AA-735). An accreditation and inspection agency’s stamp of approval means you can be confident that Cantsink’s products meet the most stringent of standards. Additionally, these accreditation bodies, such as IAS, are signatories of what is called Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) under the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC). This arrangement is designed to support international trade by promoting international confidence and acceptance of accredited laboratory test data, as well as eliminate technical barriers to global trade, such as the retesting of a product each time it enters a new economy. Cantsink’s helical pile product is ICC-ES approved with ESR-1559. (//2makvy1ffffc45t31i1e15sp-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/ESR-1559_December_2021-1.pdf). As described above, this Cantsink product was tested, evaluated, and inspected in accordance with the highest standards. It is reliable, cost-effective, and can be used globally.

Finally, when reading an ESR for a helical pile or pier product, one must pay specific attention to the reported soil pile capacity in tension and compression. Per AC358, this soil capacity is limited by the least one obtained from capacity-torque correlation and axial verification tests, which are used to determine the soil capacity of a pile installed to the maximum rated torque of the product.

Cantsink helical piles and piers are manufactured in Metro Atlanta using the company’s patented design and 100 percent recycled U.S. steel. Additionally, Cantsink has a net-zero energy manufacturing facility using solar energy to power its operation.

To learn more about helical piles, sign up for Cantsink’s free webinars and receive continuing education credits through NCSEA and AIA.

Additional Resources:

ICC: International Code Council (//www.iccsafe.org/)
ICC-ES: ICC Evaluation Service, LLC (//icc-es.org/)
NCSEA: National Council of Structural Engineers Association (//www.ncsea.com/)
AIA: The American Institution of Architects (//www.aia.org/)

Record Gulf Coast Storm Season Needs Unsurpassed Stability Solutions From Cantsink

The U.S. Gulf Coast was pounded repeatedly by rain, wind and storm surges in 2020’s record storm season, inflicting billions of dollars in structural damage on coastal, as well as inland, communities.

Even before those destructive forces raked communities from Texas to Florida, rising structural losses and storm threats prompted a new focus on a more resilient built environment. Places like Houston, TX, and Tampa, FL, pushed for new flood zone designations and changed building codes designed to minimize damage from flooding and saturated soil.

Cantsink has stepped up to this unique challenge with cost-effective solutions and a range of products tested and certified for top performance in most soils and challenging conditions, which meets these new requirements. With a line of patented helical piles for stability, Cantsink can provide foundation support in soft soils and wet conditions with easier installation and less site disruption than other support and elevation methods, such as driven timbers. The slender shafts and unique anchor designs of helical piles are less prone to heaving in soils that expand and contract through changing weather patterns and less prone to damage in extreme conditions.

With both compressive (weight) and tensile (pull) load capacity, Cantsink helical piles provide foundation stability in storm-prone regions like the U.S. Gulf Coast while being cost-effective. Cantsink also offers helical micropiles, which interact with grout added to the insertion. As the shaft advances into the ground, the grouted column formed adds greater compressive and tensile load bearing capacity. This technique can double the capacity of the pile, a useful tool in soft soils like those found in coastal regions.

Battering with helical piles also produces reliable foundation stability. By installing the helical piles at specified angles, the result offers immovable stability, like a tripod supports heavy equipment.

Best of all, helical pile installation is faster and less disruptive than traditional construction support methods common to coastal regions, such as driven timbers or augured concrete piles. Helical piles can be installed with smaller equipment and are self-verifying during the installation process. There is no time lost to testing or curing. Also, unlike other methods, helical pile installation produces less site waste requiring disposal and less vibration to nearby structures. They can be installed in densely built locations because they require no heavy machinery and meet the code requirements coastal communities have adopted.

Cantsink helical piles are not just a great way to establish lasting stability for new construction support. They are ideal for remedial support and increasing elevation of existing homes or commercial buildings damaged by storms and flooding. Because of their versatility and certification for performance under standards established by the International Code Council (ICC), Cantsink products were approved for remediation after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Cantsink’s experienced professionals can work with installers and builders to design unyielding support in difficult conditions. The company’s products are made from 100 percent recycled U.S. steel in its Metro Atlanta manufacturing facility, a net-zero-energy operation powered with on-site solar facilities.

To learn more about the benefits, applications, and performance of Cantsink helical piles for stability, sign up for one of the company’s webinars and receive continuing education credits from AIA and NCSEA. Companies interested in becoming a certified Cantsink installer can sign up for free, hands-on training at the Metro Atlanta headquarters.

Contact Cantsink to find out how its products can provide proven, cost-effective stability for Gulf Coast conditions in even the most challenging conditions.

Get Professional Continuing Ed Credits for Learning More About Helical Piers

Learning about the advantages and versatile applications for Cantsink helical piles can provide continuing education credits before the end of the year.

For building professionals such as architects and engineers, Cantsink offers three webinars on helical piles installation and design that provide continuing education credits through AIA and NCSEA. It’s not just an easy way to get continuing education credits. Cantsink can demonstrate the many benefits of cost-effective helical piles and helical pile installation, and the wide variety of applications for structural support.

The basic course, Helical Piles: Overview, Design Theory, Installation and Application (NCSEA Course No. 190931A), offers an introduction to helical pile design theory, how helical piles work, and their wide variety of applications from temporary shoring to permanent structural stability. Delivered by a qualified engineer, this course will include information on the benefits of these products and case studies demonstrating their effectiveness.

Helical Pile Design, Part I (NCSEA Course No.191131B), delves further into the applications and best practices that make helical piles so versatile and cost-effective. The third course, Design of Helical Piles: Special Topics (NCSEA Course No. 200631A), provides even deeper insight. Details include why these products are especially effective and applicable in waterside areas, where flood zone designations and building codes are changing in response to wetter weather patterns.

Nobody understands the versatile uses and cost-effective benefits of helical pile installations better than Cantsink professionals. Cantsink has been providing the construction industry with stability products for more than 30 years. Over those decades, some of the biggest and most respected names in the construction industry have relied on Cantsink for top-quality products and unsurpassed customer service.

These helical pile installation experts and engineers have successfully grappled with soils, weather conditions, and challenges of every sort in evolving their helical pile products into a range of applications. Tested and certified to the highest performance standards, Cantsink products and the experts who provide them can help building professionals establish lasting, cost-effective stability in the built environment.

Cantsink also provides free helical pile installation training at its company headquarters in Metro Atlanta. With hands-on instruction and ongoing support, Cantsink offers its certified installers opportunities to join its growing network of trusted stability professionals.

Contact Cantsink today to sign up for webinars or training and find out why our products are rapidly becoming the go-to solution for lasting structural stability.