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What is a Helical Pier?

A helical pier is a high-capacity deep foundation technology first invented in the early 1830's. It replaces foundation solutions like poured concrete or driven piers and provides outstanding foundation support to any structure. They can also be used as ground anchors to support guy wires, tie-downs, and more.
Engineers across the United States (and the world) trust helical piers. The foundation technology is included in building codes, studied by universities, and used to support everything from renewable energy installations to petro-chemical equipment.

How Does a Helical Pier Foundation Work?

Example of complete helical pier with two helixes towards bottom of pier and flat plate pier cap on top

Better design, better support, better foundations

Originally designed to provide support to lighthouses in sandy coastal areas and offshore locations, helical piers quickly became a favorite amongst engineers in the United States for projects like lighthouses, bridges, and piers. In fact, some of these structures still stand today on helical piers over 150 years later.
The secret of a helical pier can be found in its unique design. If you’re familiar with other foundations like cast concrete or driven piers, a helical pier might look a little strange.

Helical piers have a relatively narrow shaft diameter in comparison to the helix plates. These helix plates (pl. helices) are stamped in a way that gives them a true helical shape. The shape helps them turn smoothly into the ground without disturbing the soil and is the defining feature of a helical pier.

Helix plates are a key component in supplying the load resistance of a helical pier. The wide helices provide a large surface area that, once installed, have force exerted on them by the surrounding soil.

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How do you install a helical pier?

To install a helical pier, there’s no need to excavate the ground or pound piers in with heavy equipment. Helical piers “screw” (turn) into the ground using special drive heads powered by hydraulics. These drives can be attached to a huge range of equipment, from excavators to custom machines designed for tricky jobs.
The installation equipment also applies downward force, known as “crowd”, to the top of the pier while installing. This force ensures the pier turns smoothly into the ground and doesn’t merely spin in the soil. It’s similar to how you apply pressure in order to drill a screw into a piece of wood. This is why helical piers are called “screw piles” in some parts of the world.
Helical piers are also “excavation free” foundations. You don’t need to perform extensive digging or auguring, which generates piles of spoils, like you do with other foundations. We might have to predrill the hole in very tough ground, but even this won’t generate large piles of waste for you to deal with.

One of the other benefits of the helix design is that helical piers can be easily removed from the ground. You simply “unscrew” them with the same equipment used for installation.

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Where can you use helical pier foundations?

You can use a helical pier foundation virtually anywhere you can use other deep foundation solutions. At S&B Helical, we specialize in helical pier foundations for projects in:● Renewable Energy● Oil & Gas● Transmission & Distribution
Since 2015, our dedicated team has installed foundations for projects like:● Battery Energy Storage Systems● Power Sub-Stations● Pipelines● Refinery Equipment● Pumps & Compressors

What's the Benefits of Helical Piers?

Safe, Speedy, Streamlined

Because helical piers don't require excavation, drilling, pile driving, or concrete work, it's safer and easier to install helical piers. This means you'll be building sooner and without the usual headaches of waiting for concrete to cure or managing bulky equipment on your site.

Engineered, Tested, Approved

We source our helical piers from high-quality manufacturers right here in North America. Every component is tightly engineered for the best safety and performance possible. And we only source from companies who abide by strict quality assurance procedures.

Environmentally Friendly

Helical piers can use over 900% less raw material than concrete foundations and produce more than 500% fewer C02 emissions. They create zero soil disturbance on installation and will leave no trace behind after they're remove. Because they're made from steel, a helical pier can be 100% recycled at the end of its service life.

Efficient & Economical

While helical piers aren't designed to be a "budget foundation", their efficient design often makes them an economical choice over-all in most projects. They install significantly faster than other foundations in 99% of cases, meaning you'll save money by expediting your timeline and building sooner.

Where Helical Piers Are Being Used

You can find helical piers replacing poured and driven foundation across America, but they're especially valuable in the energy storage & renewables, oil & gas, and transmission & distribution industries

Energy Storage & Renewables

Two S&B helical employees monitoring installation of helical pier from a helical drive attached to an excavator.

Helical Piers & Renewable Energy - A Perfect Match

Oil & Gas

Two S&B helical employees monitoring installation of helical pier by a helical drive attached to a Excavator

Everything to Know About Helical Piers for Oil & Gas

Transmission & Distribution

Eeven large diameter helical piers sticking out from ground

How Are Helical Piers Used in Transmission & Distribution?

How Do You Get a Helical Pier Foundation Installed?

S&B employee monitoring installation of a battered helical pier attached to a helical drive
  • Consultation

    Before we unleash our pack of engineers on your foundation design, our team has to know your project inside and out. We'll work with you in-person or virtually to gather the information we need to create the perfect helical solution.

  • Design, Estimate

    After the consultation, we have the info we need to let our engineers loose. Keeping up-to-date with the latest in helical science, they work to create a design and estimate that perfectly balances your foundation's safety, cost, and performance.

  • Install Day

    When our friendly foundation installers show up, they'll be ready with everything to get the job done. We extensively train our staff in jobsite safety and conduct, so all you'll have to do is be amazed at how fast and quiet they are. In fact, the only way you'll ever know we were there is the ready-to-use foundation we leave behind. 

  • Post-Install Support

    We don't vanish after the job is done. If you have questions or if anything else comes up after we're done, we're only a phone call or email away. Our commitment to your project continues even after the foundation is in the ground. That's our promise to you.

Helical Piers vs. Steel H-Piles vs. Concrete Piers

How do helical pier foundations compare to the other common foundation solutions available on the market today?

Helical Piers

No disturbance to the soil or surrounding buildings during install due to lack of vibration.
Can be quickly and easily uninstalled from the ground, leaving no trace.
Requires minimal amounts of common equipment like excavators and skidsteers to install, reducing mobilization costs.
Produces fewer emissions because it uses less equipment and personnel required to transport and install helical piers.


Hammering piers into the ground for installation causes site disturbance and risks building damage via soil vibration.
Must be excavated for uninstallation, leading to costly site remediation.
Demands bulky equipment like pile drivers and cranes to install, which can increase mobilization costs and overall foundation price.
Can increase overall emissions of your project due to requiring more equipment and personnel to be transported and work on site.

Concrete Piers

Requires heavy raw materials and equipment to haul and install
Can take days or weeks to fully cure and be ready for loading
Pre-cast concrete piers are brittle and awkward to transport
Environmentally costly material with a very high carbon footprint
Removing piers will require excavation, site disturbance, and mess

S&B employees monitoring installation of helical pier by a helical drive attached to a large yellow excavator
S&B employees monitoring helical pier installation in a tight access area between sensitive refinery equipment

Want to know more about helical pier foundations?

We can't fit everything there is about helical piers on a single web page! If you want to know more about helical pier foundations and how they can help you build safer, faster, and more economically, get in touch with our foundation experts

Proudly American, Proudly Serving the Lower 48

S&B Helical works in all of the 48 contiguous states in America. Through swamps, deserts, frozen tundra, rocky mountains, and open plains, our determined team of foundation experts install foundations anywhere.

Map of 48 US states representing S&B helical’s service area for helical foundations.
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