Dynamic testing is not something the average person is familiar with. Yet, people do reap the rewards and benefits of such testing each and every time they pass a bridge, building, or other structure that is supported by a pile head. While very strong, a pile head can only sustain a finite amount of pressure. Once the load capacity becomes too much, then the the structure run the risk of collapse.
This collapse might not occur the minute the weight of the load is placed on top of it. Those who work in geotechnical engineering know this. Pilings may be able to support a set amount of weight for the short term. However, the structural integrity of the pilings might slowly degrade and weaken over time. Eventually, the weight of the load becomes to much for the pilings to bear and a collapse is imminent.
Even a slight amount of weight can lead to a collapse. Again, quite some time might by before the actual collapse occurs. To avoid any devastating surprises, engineers will perform dynamic testing to determine how much stress is acceptable.
The process of load testing is both slow and deliberate. There is a very logical reason why such an approach is taken. The geotechnical engineering staff performing a test positively must be sure structural soundness is reliable. If not, then a collapse remains a possibility. Since lives are at risk in the event of a collapse, being very diligent with the dynamic testing process becomes an absolute must.
Dynamic testing might even take place over the course of several days. A week to ten days is not out of the question. In some cases, the tests may continue after the load has been removed to determine if any changes occur with the pilings. Once again, geotechnical engineering crews must be very sure that the pilings have passed all tests thoroughly. To do otherwise is to take a huge risk. Thorough testing is the only acceptable method for dynamic testing since the results may prove indisputable.
Any business or entity involved with building and construction must assuredly work with geotechnical engineering experts who are capable of performing the most effective testing possible. Reputable engineering firms are going to be more than willing to reveal how they plan to go about performing their tests. Reviewing the methods the geotechnical engineering testers employ prior to hiring is strongly recommended.
The base of any home is the foundation. A secure foundation in good repair is what keeps any home stable. Weak foundations can lead to more severe problems. If the foundation cracked under the weight of the home, then the building will begin to shift. Wooden support beams and plaster walls can eventually crack. If the deformation is severe enough, the wood may even break. Metal beams and supports can deform as weight shifts. Luckily, foundation defects can be found with pile testing.
The structure of the building is not the only thing that can be damaged. Water and sewage pipes can be damaged leading to leaks and water damage. A building’s wiring harness can be pulled loose, eventually creating a fire hazard. The house’s chimney can tilt, and in severe cases, cause smoke leaks or inefficient heating. The science of foundation engineering can prevent these problems or repair them if they occur. Timely pile testing will detect weakness before problems occur.
Foundation engineering is used to initially design a new construction’s foundations. Foundation engineering today uses two basic types of foundations. They build shallow foundations, or footings, and deep foundations. Footings are generally built about a meter into the soil. The spread footing uses pads and strips of concrete that go past the frost-line. Slab-on-grade foundations use a flat slab of concrete at the surface to hold up the building. Foundation engineering determines just how thick or thin the slabs must be to safely hold the weight.
While the building is being constructed, a number of pile testing techniques will be used to double check the timber and concrete used. One of the easiest tests is a low strain dynamic test or sonic echo test. This is a cost effective type of pile testing. An expert in foundation engineering uses a special hammer and a sensor device. The engineer inspects the pile, then taps it in particular spots. The sensor picks up the sonic waves and interprets them. Any weak spots will be revealed.
The modern engineer carefully assesses the ground and the house-to-be. He designs a foundation that will safety hold a home and all it contains over time. All piles will have pile testing done as needed. Older foundations may not be as well designed as older foundation engineering was not as advanced. The builders who constructed them would not have had access to the same high quality pile testing that exists today. Timely testing is key.