By Walter Smith
This is the third installment in a continuing series. Read the first installment here: “The Best Laid Plans of Mice, Men, and Machinery: Tales from the Field, Part 1.” Read the second installment here: “The Best Laid Plans of Mice, Men, and Machinery: Tales from the Field, Part 2.”
We all have our own descriptions for many of the products used in helical pier installations. In New Jersey, Long Island, and Connecticut, the grouting of helical piles under lifted homes to avoid the next superstorm has become a standard part of many pier installations. I explained over the phone to an installer about to start his first grouted job that he would need cement and water on the job to mix into grout. The first morning, I arrived on the job and saw that the bags were not cement but instead a concrete mix (cement, sand and aggregate). So I explained why the concrete mix was not a good idea: the aggregate can bridge as it’s being pulled down, which causes “holidays” or holes in the concrete. So, they loaded up the bags, and returned with mortar mix. Unfortunately, mortar mix can have a similar effect as concrete mix. We were down to our last strike when the bags of cement arrived on the job. After that the job progressed very well, with the one exception of the sides of the wooden reservoir splitting when they were filled with grout on the first pier. Of course, they overcame that problem too!
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Walter Smith is Danbro Distributor’s Installation Field Specialist and Territory Manager for Central & Northeastern PA, Hudson Valley and Upstate NY, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. With over 20 years in the helical pile industry, Walter guides all new installers through their first job.