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02/10/2021

Push Piers vs Helical Piers (Installation to Equipment to Cost)

There is a bitter archaic struggle between Push Piers and Helical Piers that has stretched out into galvanized eons. 

The truth is contractors play favorites. That’s right, nepotism is alive and well when it comes to promoting one type of foundation repair over another. 

In most cases, all contractors manage to do is completely confuse their clients on what pier is best for their given situation.  

Call it karma. Kismet. Or whatever – you’re in luck. Here at Dalinghaus Construction, we utilize both Push Pier and Helical Pier systems. 

They are, indeed, our two great loves. Since we readily install both (as the situation dictates), we cannot be accused of pure pier bias.  

In this blog article, we will compare and contrast these two beautiful piers. We’ll start with the differences in regard to installation, equipment, and cost.

Then we’ll circle back to their similarities of lifting, galvanization, and ICC’s (International Code Council).

Differences 

I like to tell people the main, primary difference between a Push Pier and Helical Pier is simple: Push Piers are like nails and Helical Piers are like screws

Installation

The primary difference between Push Piers and Helical Piers is their installation method.

Push Piers are quite literally pushed deep into the earth by the hydraulic press. 

These Push Piers are an average of about 2.5 feet long and are fitted with a collar to help reduce skin friction. 

Push Piers utilize the inherent weight of your home to help drive the pipe down to bedrock or competent load-bearing strata. Some homes are too light to use this method, which is where helical piers can come into play. 

Helical Piers are divided into two camps: round and square.

Round Helical Piers are excellent for vertical or compression loading and are screwed directly into the earth. In layman's terms - they support structures and/or loads that move up and down.  

Square Helical Piers work best for lateral or horizontal loading. In layman's terms - they are perfect for any structure and/or loads that move side to side.

Both types of Helical Pier have helices or flights welded to the bottom of the steel. These act as giant threads so that helical piers can be screwed directly into the earth via a hydraulic drive head. 

The flights/helical provide additional support as they screw tightly into the earth and lodge securely in competent load-bearing soil. 

This method does not require the weight of your home to penetrate to deeper, competent soils.

There are other differences between round and square helical piers, especially when it comes to deciding What are the best Helical Piers to use?    

Equipment

Push Piers and Helical Piers require different installation methods due to their structural discrepancies. 

While nails and screws serve relatively the same purpose – you don’t install them via the same methodology.

Push Piers utilize a hydraulic power pack connected to a hydraulic cylinder (or what we in the industry call a RAM). 

The RAM is connected to a drive stand that is attached to the foundation repair bracket that will be cinched in nicely to your home’s newly manicured footing.

Helical Piers also utilize a hydraulic power pack (or occasionally you will see the hydraulic power pack substituted with a skid steer or mini excavator). 

It’s interesting to note – almost all construction equipment has some form of hydraulic pump and/or fittings. Truth is – hydraulics make the world turn round.

This hydraulic power pack powers the hydraulic drive head, which is the piece of equipment that actually does the screwing of the helical pier.  

The hydraulic power pack will then run a hydraulic drive head, which will be the piece of equipment that actually does the screwing of the helical pier.  

Construction Jokes with Brian –

What did the Push Pier say to the Helical Pier?

Screw you

Cost

Pricing is another significant difference between Push Piers and Helical Piers.

The average general contracting cost per Push Pier in Southern California and Arizona ranges from $1,800 to $2000.  

The average general contracting cost per Helical Pier in Southern California and Arizona ranges from $2100 to $3000.

Typically, the fiscal difference equals out to about $200-300 per pier on your standard 3” Helical and Push Pier material.

The primary difference in cost boils down to additional cost of labor to install Helical Piers. Push Piers, for example, can be installed with just one person – solo – but helical piers require 2-3 bodies depending on pier location.    

Now that we’ve covered installation, equipment, and cost – let’s hit the similarities.

Similarities 

Although Push Piers and Helical Piers have their differences, there is also significant overlap in terms of functionality.   

Lifting

Both Push Piers and Helical Piers are more than capable of lifting your home.

Push Pier max capacity is 68 thousand pounds.   

Helical Pier max capacity is 74 thousand pounds.

Remedial bracket max capacity is 40 thousand pounds.

Fun fact: divide any max capacity number by 2 to find working capacity. Engineers just like to list max capacity to sound cool...which it does.   

Both Push Piers and Helical Piers utilize the same lifting equipment (such as a hydraulic power pack, lift heads, Ziplevel altimeters, and so on) to ensure that your home will be lifted back to the desired elevation or maximum practical recovery

Once all of the piers are installed, it requires the same amount of manpower to lift either pier system. 

This includes one guy managing the hydraulic power pack and one guy monitoring the lift from inside the home with a Ziplevel altimeter to measure floor elevation during the lifting process.

Hot-Dipped Galvanized

The Push Piers and Helical Piers we utilize are 100% American-made steel and arrive galvanized from the manufacturer.

It is imperative that our piers are galvanized because it provides an extra layer of protection against the elements for corrosion protection.  

We’ve all seen steel or metal left out in the rain begin to rust. Rust would eat away at our Push Piers and Helical Piers due to the moisture inherently in the soil.

This extra layer of armor, corrosion protection adds additional life expectancy to pier systems to ensure that they will support your home for a very long time. 

We’re talking like 50 to 100 years, but probably still won’t last long enough to see the Raiders reach the Superbowl.  

ICC's

ICC stands for International Code Council reports. Their primary priority is to test products from all over the world to verify that they do, indeed, work. So, on the surface, it may seem like it doesn’t mean much...

…however, when you go to pull permits from your local city or county, the reviewers at the municipalities will want to see if the product your contractor is using will hold up to certain standards.   

You can find a list of products on the ICC website to confirm that the products your contractor is utilizing have an ICC certification.

Onward 

Now, there are many more differences between Push Piers and Helical Piers, but from a standpoint of the primary differences on why you should choose one over the other, we covered in this article.  

Any and all additional questions can be asked by you to us during your foundation inspection and check out 25 Questions to Ask When Hiring A Foundation Repair Contractor. You can schedule that right below this line. 

If you live in Southern California or around Maricopa County AZ, click the link below to get a FREE foundation inspection - 

schedule free foundation evaluation

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