It is not always possible to provide new structures with a surface foundation. Pile foundations are deep foundations that are often used in situations where surface foundations cannot guarantee the structural integrity of a construction. Because they go deeper into the ground, pile foundations are a costlier option compared to surface foundations. The added cost is often justified because the safety of a structure can never be taken for granted.
But when is it ideal to install pile foundations? Continue reading on to familiarise yourself with some of the situations that may necessitate the use of pile foundations.
When the top soil layers are weak.
When the upper layers of soil at a construction site is weak and is unable to support the weight of a structure, then a pile foundation may be the only available option. A shallow foundation may lead to settlement of the structure because of the soil's inadequate load-bearing capacity. Site soils may be rendered structurally weak due to excessive water content, for example.
When the cost of removing excavated site material is too high.
Installation of surface foundations typically involves excavating large volumes of earth and transporting it elsewhere. But if the costs of removal are too high, it might be a more economical option to use a pile foundation. The cost savings achieved by opting for a piled foundation can be diverted to other important activities of the construction project.
When the water table is high.
When the water table is too close to the ground level, a surface foundation may not be built strong and stable enough to support a structure because construction workers won't want to reach the water. In such cases, it may be more practical to simply auger piles into the ground up to the required depths.
When the structure may be exposed to uplift forces.
Pile foundations are also a suitable option for some specific structures, like dry docks, pumping stations, transmission line towers, basements, and offshore platforms built below groundwater, and which will need to resist uplift loads.
When site soils are susceptible to erosion.
Pile foundations may be the only option for contractors that need to build structures on soils that are prone to erosion by wind, rainwater or other external factors. The strength and stability of a surface foundation may be compromised when large quantities of soil keeping it intact is eroded away.
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