Screw piles have become a popular choice for a whole range of construction projects. But there’s still a lot of confusion about what they can and can’t do. And where they should and shouldn’t be used. So, to try and clarify things a little, these are the screw pile advantages and disadvantages that you need to be aware of.

Screw Pile Advantages and Disadvantages – What Do You Need to Know?

Screw pile advantages

Screw piles can be installed quickly

Whether you’re working on a small project and installing by hand, or using groundworks machines, screw piles can be installed extremely quickly. You have no need for highly specialized equipment, like a piling/drilling rig – the job can be done by hand, with a hand held machine or with a excavator and drive unit. With each screw pile taking around five minutes to sink 10 feet (if you’re not taking the manual approach), even large projects can be completed in a small amount of time.

Installation is not labour intensive

You will rarely require more than two people to install screw piles. If you’re working manually, it’s better to work in pairs because it helps to improve both accuracy and speed. If you’re using an excavator, you’ll need one operator and one banksman connecting the piles and to aid with position and level.

You don’t have to worry about the weather

Unlike concrete foundations, you don’t need to wait for the perfect weather conditions to install your screw piles. Come rain or shine, heat or cold, you are ready to roll.

Little site disturbance

One of the major disadvantages of almost every other form of building foundation is that groundwork is required. This can be highly disruptive, and the clear up can be costly. This typically isn’t the case with ground screws. There is very little site disturbance, low noise levels, and minimal vibrations. Making ground screws a strong candidate for building in sensitive areas.

Immediate load carrying

Screw piles require no settling in period. Once they have been installed, they are ready to carry their load immediately. So, if you’ve got limited time to get a job done, they make a good choice.

Load capacity can be verified during installation

The ability to measure screw pile installation torque can give you the reassurance you need to be confident in the viability of your build.

Screw piles can be installed in a variety of conditions

As well as varying soil types – sand, clay, chalk – screw piles can also be installed in more challenging areas. Such as in places that experience high groundwater. Preventing the need for pumps, and helping to reduce the associated costs.

Adaptability and versatility

Because screw piles are modular, it’s easy to use them when your plans or calculations change. If you need to increase your load-bearing capability, or decide to extend your project, you can simply add additional screw piles.

Screw pile disadvantages

Some soil restrictions

While screw piles work really well in a whole range of soil types, they are limited by grain size. So, screw piles generally aren’t an option for gravel, rock, or other soil types that contain large rocks obstructions. As a general rule, screw piles are limited to use in soils that have a maximum grain size of less than 60% of the pitch of the helices.

Torque limitations

Every screw pile has a maximum torque rating. This means that if too much torque is applied, it can compromise the integrity of the screw pile – and the load it is supporting. This can raise some difficulties during installation, if equipment is not properly managed. However, this is very rarely an issue if due time attention has been paid. For example designing the piles in accordance to the correct loads and following the findings of a proper soil investigation. 

Screw piles are popular because they are versatile, easy to install, and often cost-effective. But before you begin any building project, it’s always sensible to do your research and ensure that you have the best tools for the job. In many cases, that will mean selecting screw piles. But sometimes, other options make more sense.

To find out more about screw piles, get in touch with UK Helix.

Disclaimer –Information in this blog does not in any way constitute building advice or guidance for private or commercial building projects.

1 Comment

  1. Marc O'Donnell


    I’m looking at using 4 x 0.7m screw piles as ground anchors for static caravan: can you advise approx vertical upward loading these can withstand in well consolidated stony subsoil.


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