Understanding the Functions and Purposes of Pile Foundations

21 October 2020

Basic structures such as homes, buildings, and other types of properties require a solid and stable foundation for them to remain firm and standing for a very long time. In general, foundations for these structures are vital as they transfer their load to the soil or rock layers that possess enough bearing capacity. To date, foundations can be categorised as shallow or deep.

Shallow foundations are maximised whenever a structure has a low load relative to the bearing capacity of the surface soils. Deep foundations, on the other hand, are utilised whenever the surface soils have an insufficient bearing capacity to effectively support the load of a structure. And as an alternative, the structural load is then passed down to deeper underground layers that possess a higher bearing capacity.

Overview of Pile Foundations

One type of deep foundation that is typically used in a lot of large structures today is known as pile foundations. Pile foundations are comprised of long columnar elements that are made from steel, timber, or reinforced concrete. The insertion and installation of these columnar elements hugely depend on the nature of the soil that is underneath the surface soils. For a more effective pile foundation, they must pass through the weaker ground layers and subsequently stand on a stable layer of soil or rock.

Pile foundations typically transfer the loads from the structures into a stronger, more compact, and deeper layers of soil or rock. Through their load transfer capability, the pile foundations themselves allow the structures to gain a more robust and effective foundation and easily resist horizontal loads.

Functions of Pile Foundations

One main function of pile foundations is to ensure that a structure can stand still on top of a strong foundation as long as the columnar elements are located in the strongest and most stable part of the soil or rock layers. Additionally, they make sure that the strength of the soil layer where the columnar support is situated will increase and can hold on for a very long time. Pile foundations likewise prevent soil erosion and other damaging elements and factors from corrupting the stability of the structure foundation.

Almost all types of pile foundations carry these basic but significant functionalities.

Applications of Pile Foundations

The primary purpose of pile foundations is to strengthen the soil layers and make it stable enough for the foundation of a structure. And given this specific purpose, there are certainly several situations that would require their help and assistance.

For one, pile foundations must be applied if the groundwater table is high. Additionally, pile foundations are recommended for places with compressible ground soil or rock layer. The existence of nearby canal or drainage systems on the proposed structure also calls for the insertion of pile foundations. They must also be applied whenever the structure itself carries heavy and nonuniform loads.

To further understand the concept behind pile foundations, feel free to give us a call at Fairdinkum Technical Services. We are a boutique organisation with operation centres located in New South Wales and Queensland. With over 35 years’ experience in engineering design and construction, we can provide technical engineering design, as well as offer construction support for small scale domestic improvement projects for homeowner builders.

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