Issues & Solutions for Obstacles During Foundation Drilling Projects

Issues & Solutions for Obstacles During Foundation Drilling Projects

No two projects present the same obstacles, but with careful planning and evaluating previous jobs, every drilling operator can identify solutions that will keep a project on track through every phase of construction. Common issues can cause major problems such as a lack of structural integrity, material deficiencies, and other breakdowns for projects of any scope.

Identifying potential issues before they become significant problems is essential to success. Preventative measures are the best solution and implementing protocols, checklists, and regular inspections can help every operator identify and mitigate any malfunctions before they result in critical failure.

Some of the most common issues you can encounter during a foundation drilling project include problems with pile formations, faults in concrete, reinforcement installation deficiencies, and working load faults.

Pile Formation

Damage or deterioration may be caused by the force required to drive piles and can result in compromised piles which do not bear the load capacity required for deep foundation projects. This can occur if the pile is out of plumb or the hammer has not been properly calibrated with the pile cushion. Another factor can be a pile cushion that has been damaged and is delivering excessive force.

Depending on your site’s conditions, loose soils can lead to the deterioration or damage of piles if casings are not first installed. Collaborate with your geotechnical analysis and engineering team to ensure that you have the correct configuration for your job site’s specific conditions at depth.

Water can flow into borings and generate a host of issues. If you are working on a marine project or in high moisture or brackish conditions, this can create additional considerations and concerns. Casings and other mitigation factors may be necessary to keep excess water from entering foundation borings and damaging concrete piles.

Adjacent settlement may be caused by the vibrations created during a piling project in sandy or loose soils and can create uneven foundations. Heave and displacement around pile installation locations can cause uplift or lateral movement, which will result in uneven piles and a faulty deep foundation. Leveling should be monitored during every phase of a project to ensure a proper deep foundation.

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Evaluate Concrete

If your concrete piles are not delivering adequate strength, it may be due to improper mixing, and concrete samples should be tested and analyzed before pouring to ensure correctly mixed concrete and piles.

Voids may be found in improperly mixed concrete and are especially common in deep foundation projects where concrete is not poured into a steel casing. Voids in concrete can result in air pockets that will lead to serious malfunction once load is placed upon the pile. If casings are extracted following the concrete pour, voids that were not evident may become serious issues that require extensive and costly repairs or the complete replacement of faulty piles.

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When you use rebar or other steel to reinforce your deep foundation, you may experience lateral movement or notice that your steel structures are being dragged down during the compaction phase of your project. There are a variety of factors that can result in reinforcement disposition, including improperly placed spacers or defective anchors.

Consult local, state, and federal guidelines to ensure that your steel structures are up to regulation. Also, ensure that all steel cages are thoroughly inspected before installation of your piers, drilled shafts, or caissons.

Evaluate Working Loads before Drilling

In some cases, working loads may become too great for weakened foundation structures that have been damaged by one or more of the following causes.

  • Improper placement
  • Pile lift due to ground heave
  • Faulty concrete
  • Insufficient driven resistance

These are easily mitigated by ensuring your engineering team and ground crews have thoroughly analyzed the plans and performed adequate inspections of materials before any drilling or installation begins.

Foundation drilling equipment is utilized for many large civil projects and in marine applications because deep bores can be driven to support robust foundations that can bear considerable loads. Though these common issues can create malfunctions having a thorough and comprehensive plan in place to conduct inspections at every phase can keep your project moving steadily and avoid repairs or malfunctions in the final steps of construction.

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Foundation Drilling Experts

For over 50 years, RPI Equipment has rented, sold, and serviced deep foundation drilling and pile driving equipment. Family-owned and operated, we are your trusted partner for heavy construction equipment and believe in transparent communication from day one. Our experienced team of technicians and staff of knowledgeable salespeople can help you identify the right equipment for any project, no matter the size.

We can help you identify the right equipment for your project and develop daily, weekly, and monthly inspections and troubleshooting systems to make sure that equipment is operating at its peak performance to help you. Your crew will avoid costly downtime and deliver the most structurally sound deep foundations whether they are cast in place piles, caissons, piers, or drilled shafts.

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