Push Piers vs. Helical Piers: Which is the Best Foundation Repair Solution for Your Commercial Building?

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Foundation settlement is already a big issue when it pertains to your home. The same goes for the commercial structure you own, especially if the damage done can affect you and your workers. The foundation repair is already expensive. On the other hand, foundation issues affect your workers, which can also affect your business.

Thankfully, there are solutions out there that can keep your commercial structure stable and everyone working feel safe and reassured. And you get to maintain the full value of your commercial property. Galvanized steel Push pier and Helical pier underpinning systems are effective solutions.

Then comes the question: does my commercial building need a Push pier or Helical pier underpinning?

That’s a question Dalinghaus Construction can help you answer, especially after completing 2,300 foundation repair projects in Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada. Since 2015, we’ve finished residential and commercial projects that involve Push pier and Helical pier underpinnings. We understand which piering system will be most effective for your commercial building so that you don’t have to worry about foundation issues anymore.

You first need to identify if you have any signs of foundation issues

Thankfully, residential and commercial buildings exhibit the same signs of having foundation issues.

  • Drywall cracks
  • Stucco cracks
  • Sticking doors and windows
    • They may not feel sticky, but they are noticeably more difficult to open and close.
  • Sloped floors
  • Slab cracks
  • Leaning chimneys
  • Sidewalk cracks
  • Footing cracks
  • Gaps between walls, ceilings, floors, or wall corners

It depends on how the commercial building is built. You’ll mostly have Concrete Tilt-up commercial structures in Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada. You’ll see many of the same signs you would see with drywall or stucco cracks on a residential home.

Concrete Tilt-Ups are concrete based. Crazy. You’ll see cracks in the concrete and things in that area.

Flooring can still settle differently in a commercial building depending on how floors are tied in. They’re typically independent similar to a garage slab as opposed to a slab-on-grade home already tied into the existing foundation.

The panels usually won’t lean. They go straight down due to the framing structures holding everything together. Separate panels settle independently. You won’t usually see just a corner due to how the panels are constructed.

You have to see if the exterior of the building settles or has slab movement. You can go up on the roof of your building and look at the panel joints. They should be one level, but they can vary if you have differential settlement.

You can also see cracks in the panel joints, too. They will be off-set a little bit.

Learn about how Concrete Tilt-ups are shored.

What are Push piers? 

The name is pretty straightforward. They’re galvanized steel tubes that are pushed into the ground.

Well, more accurately, they’re hydraulically driven into the ground until reaching competent, load-bearing soil or bedrock. They’re anchored to the remedial bracket bolted onto your foundation to help stabilize a structure.

They can even be used as a bonus to lift an area of a structure affected by foundation settlement. Lift happens to the point of maximum practical recovery, which lifts the area of your business as close as level as can be without causing additional stress to your structure.

These piers use the weight of your structure to be hydraulically driven. The lighter the load, the less viable Push piers are as a permanent solution.

When Push piers don’t work, you’ll have Helical piers being used in their place.

What are Helical piers? 

Helical piers are pretty cool. Super cool and efficient at their job. They do the same thing as Push piers regarding foundation stabilization and leveling.

They’re used for vertical loading and use a retrofit bracket that’s bolted to your commercial building.

What’s cool about them is they’re used for buildings that are too light for Push piers to be effective.

Helical piers have helices at the base that allow them to be driven into the ground independent of your commercial building. A helical torque motor is used to put the helical piers in like a screw until reaching competent, load-bearing soil or the recommended torque.

They’re then attached to the retrofit bracket to provide stability for your foundation and can also lift the area affected by foundation settlement.

Both Push piers and Helical piers serve the same purpose

What’s most important to combatting foundation settlement of your commercial building? No matter which piering system you use, they will both stabilize your commercial structure.

Are Push piers or Helical piers more effective for my commercial building? 

Ultimately, it depends on the weight of the building. The load exerted from your commercial building determines what pier would be the most effective. For whichever piering system you decide to use, the purpose is to transfer the load from being exerted onto the soil to the Push or Helical pier system.

Push piers work a little bit better since they have a higher load capacity and are easier to install due to access to the footings.

Push piers and Helical piers would work either way.

You need Helical Piers if the weight isn’t substantial enough. You’ll never have that issue with concrete tilt-up commercial buildings.

There are some other commercial structures where you’ll want to switch over to Helical pier underpinning. Even then, most commercial buildings have enough weight where Push piers are effective unless there is some hard layer you need to get through that Push piers can’t penetrate.

You have shopping center commercial buildings that are made of various materials like brick and mortar. Some of them are wood like you would see in a home. They might need helical piers over push piers, though again it depends on the weight of the building.

You’ll want foundation repair sooner than later for your commercial building 

Depending on what you have going on, foundation settlement can be exacerbated at a quicker rate.

For instance, forklifts are already heavy as it is. Then you have them carrying heavy materials. The floors will be susceptible to more settlement at a faster weight because of the weight added to them continuously and repetitively.

Another thing to look at with commercial floor slabs is the joints starting to spall. Since forklifts drive over the slab continuously, it’s causing the concrete to flex and eventually break to relieve that stress. Polyurethane foam might be a beneficial fix if this is caught early enough so you don’t have a bunch of spalled concrete and so the slab is stabilized.

Safety of your workers

Dalinghaus Construction has had commercial foundation repair projects where forklift drivers have complained about hurting their backs because they had to go over the area affected by foundation settlement nonstop. The vehicle continues to bounce, which makes them bounce with it.

Not only do you want your workers to perform at maximum efficiency, but you also want to be sure of their well-being.

If you own a commercial building, cover your butt and have a foundation inspection scheduled

You’ve learned about identifying signs for foundation issues in commercial buildings, Push piers, Helical piers, which system of underpinning is more effective for you, and why you want foundation repair sooner than later. The next thing to do is schedule a foundation inspection to see what needs to be done to make foundation settlement a thing of the past.

Side note – if you’re planning to buy a commercial property, be sure you’re scheduling a foundation inspection with someone. You want to make sure you’re getting the full worth of your top investment.

For properties not on the market, your foundation inspection is FREE. The real estate foundation inspection is $1,000, which goes as credit toward your foundation repair.

Make sure your foundation issues with your commercial property are resolved for the sake of you and the workers inside.

For additional questions or to schedule an evaluation, call Dalinghaus Construction at (877)360-9277.

If you want to learn about other foundation repair solutions for commercial buildings.


Brian Dalinghaus

Brian is one of the Co-Founders of Dalinghaus Construction. He has been in the foundation repair industry since 2005. During his career, he has been associated with helping over 4,000 homes and structures throughout California and Arizona.

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One Response

  1. I have a duplex that has a big crack that was repaired about 30 years ago But the crack has reopened making me worry.It sounds like your company only works on commercial. Please let me know if you do little projects.

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