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Pile Testing: What It Entails

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Dynamic testing at a construction site can take many different forms. Pile testing is among the more common ones and it can also be considered one of the most important. This type of testing serves quite a few purposes. Among them would be the ability to determine full pile capacity. In other words, the testing can ascertain how much weight and how large of a structure the pilings can effectively support.

The reason dynamic testing must be conducted is the use of piles, in many construction projects, reflects the possible presence of an obstacle to building a structure. Namely, the foundation in which the structure is to be built upon might be far too shallow to carry the load of the building. Through the use of underground piles, the ability to establish a much more stable foundation for a structure is possible. In order to be sure that the installed piling truly can handle the load placed on top of them, pile testing must be performed. There are different types of pile testing strategies that can be undertaken. Of these various methods, dynamic testing might be the best mode to employ.

There are other forms of testing that can be employed other than dynamic testing. The problem with these methods is they may not be as accurate and, ironically, they can be more costly to perform. High end dynamic testing is likely the most modern and most reliable means of piling testing. As such, the dynamic method of testing is the one so many in foundational engineering will recommend.

Dynamic testing can entail several different actual tests. Structural integrity would clearly be among the most important tests, but it is not the only test to be performed. Load capacity may also be determined. How much stress the piles can endure would be another area of examination during the test. In short, the testing does try to gain the widest possible conclusions regarding what the piles are capable of handling.

If problems arise during the pile testing process, steps can be quickly taken to address them. It would be inaccurate to assume there are no ways to improve load capacity or overcome any failures that are noted in the testing. Tweaks, changes, and major fixes occur all the time during the construction phase. Improvements could very well be made after reviewing the results of pile testing. After all, this is the purpose of the testing in the first place.

Pile Testing for a Safe Home

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.