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What is Subsidence and What Causes It?

Subsidence is something that anybody in the piling or construction industry needs to know about! Subsidence is the process of the earth sinking at ground level due to a number of factors in the soil underneath. Subsidence can occur due to a wide variety of reasons, ranging from extraction of natural resources to the reduction of groundwater. Subsidence can cause foundations to become uneven, which in turn causes the buildings atop those foundations to slant, warp, or even crack. Let’s take a closer look at some of these causes of subsidence.

Loss of ground water

Subsidence occurs due to the movement of soil or earth underneath a building. During droughts or prolonged dry spells, soil shrinkage occurs, leaving the building with less support and the piles with less reinforcement. Soils with a high clay content are particularly vulnerable to subsidence from soil shrinkage as clay is porous and absorbs lots of water when wet, so when it dries out it shrinks significantly! Loss of ground water can also be caused by tree roots nearby soaking up moisture from the earth, these are most often oak, elm, or ash trees.

Washing away of earth

Ironically, subsidence can be caused by too much moisture as much as it can be caused by not enough. If flooding occurs due to a heavy wet season or an event like a river bursting its banks, the subsequent oversaturation of soil combined with the heavy flow of water can wash away soil from underneath and around your foundations, weakening them and increasing the risk of subsidence. This can even occur due to leaky pipes or drains directing water underneath the property!

Extraction of natural resources

The industrial extraction of natural resources underneath buildings can cause subsidence through a number of ways. High-pressure extractions like hydraulic fracking involve blasting sand, water, and chemicals into the earth to release shale gas. In doing so, the high pressures can cause the earth to shift and weaken. Traditional mining can also make an area more vulnerable to subsidence as the progressive hollowing of the earth reduces its ability to bear the weight above.

Here at Rhino Piling, we have over 100 years’ collective experience, so we have all the expertise you need to deal with any piling project or subsidence repair! Get in touch today for a full evaluation carried out on-site!

Using Water Pumps in Deep Foundation Piling

Deep foundation piling is a method of providing a sturdy and rigid foundation for a building by installing “piles” – long vertical stilts or supports that are driven down through the soft topsoil to rest on more solid earth or rock layers underneath. Piling has been around since the dawn of human civilisation and the earliest known evidence of building homes on top piles predates history itself! Since those ancient times plenty of differing methods and techniques have been created to pile or assist in the piling process. One example of this is mini piling, using piles that are shorter in length to allow for greater flexibility in installation! But did you know that water pumps can be utilised in foundation piling? Let’s have a quick look at a couple of the ways water pumps can be used to assist piling projects!

Pile Cropping

Once installed in the group, some piles need cropping in order to allow pile caps to be installed, or pile beams to be constructed. This must be done without damaging the concrete below the cut as to not weaken the piles and jeopardise the integrity of the foundations! Traditional approaches would physically cut the piles with tools like jackhammers, but high-pressure water jets can achieve a much cleaner cut with no damage below the line!

Cleaning Piling Rigs

Piling rigs are used to drill or drive piles deep into the ground, and these are often filled with liquid concrete afterwards. Often, due to the nature of the industry, concrete is known to be left inside the piling rig accidentally, allowing it to dry and harden. Once it has done this it is incredibly difficult to remove, but with a highly pressurised water demolition jet, you can peel that concrete off your rig without damaging the machinery!

Pile Boring

Most piles are driven or drilled into the ground, but many piles require a hole to be bored into the ground first before it can be place in the earth. There are many methods of achieving this, but one cutting-edge technique it to utilise ultra-high-Hyundai water pumps to cut into the earth, which displaces and disturbs less soil than other methods! However, ensure that your site has adequate drainage to allow the excess water to escape.

Here at Rhino Piling we have over a century’s worth of collective experience in piling and are ready to tackle projects of any size!

The Worst Types of Soils for Piling

Deep foundation piling is the process of installing ‘piles’ – long stilts made of wood, concrete, or steel – in the ground to form the foundations for a construction above. Piling has been around since ancient times and takes advantage of denser, tougher earth at greater depths. The piles bypass the softer, more easily shiftable earth on the upper levels and rest on the much firmer levels below. The softer earth around the piles helps brace the foundations in place while the end rests on the firmest surface, providing a solid foundation for the construction to take place on!

There are many different types and compositions of earth. Soil can be high in sand, or clay. It may have a lot of rocks buried within it or be waterlogged from poor drainage. These variations can have a huge effect on the stability and strength of foundations. Let’s take a quick look at some of the worst variations and how these can affect your foundations.

Peat

Peat is a fine deposit made up of a mixture of soil and decomposed vegetation, and can be found in wetlands like peatlands, moors, and bogs etc. Peat absorbs and holds moisture very well and can make a fairly firm surface when damp and compressed. However, peat dries out completely to become crisp and fragile, and even poses a huge fire risk when dry. These factors make it unsuitable for piling.

Silt

Silt is another fine grainy deposit, similar to peat, but mineral in origin. Silt stores water too effectively, making draining difficult, and the material expands as it absorbs moisture which would cause warping and erosion, making it an unsuitable material to set foundations in.

Clay

Clay is a dense material most famous for its use in pottery, fired clay provides us with plates, flower vases, and a whole range of other products! Clay, like silt, expands significantly when it absorbs moisture, while also becoming soft and malleable. Because of this constant expansion and contraction, clay would likely cause cracks to appear in foundations over time, meaning it’s a poor material to install your piles in!

Sand and Gravel

Soil with high concentrations of sand or gravel tend to drain moisture away very easily due to the gaps between the large grains. If compacted well and kept contained these surfaces can be used to support deep foundation piling, but if there is a flow of liquid nearby, the particles or sand or stone can be washed away from underneath, leaving gaps in your foundations. Sandy and gravely soils are best avoided if possible.

All construction projects must begin with the most important decision – the foundations. The foundations provide the base for the rest of your construction and must be completed to the highest standards and with utmost expertise. Here at Rhino Piling we have over a century of collective experience in foundation piling and start every project with a full on-site evaluation. Get in touch today to see what we can do for you!

 

Construction Sites Most Suited for Mini Piling

Piling is the method of installing deep foundations for construction projects by inserting long, vertical supports – piles – into the earth below the structure or site.  These piles support the weight of the structure by resting on firmer earth deep below the surface, bypassing the loose dirt on top which is more susceptible to washing away, becoming waterlogged, or shifting out of place over time. Mini piling works in a similar way but is completed with shorter piles that can be more easily inserted and installed at odd angles, if necessary, mini piles are often reinforced with concrete.

Mini piling has a unique list of advantages and disadvantages compared to traditional piling. Some sites and projects are unsuitable for mini piling while others are absolutely perfect to take advantage of the benefits of mini piling without any of the downfalls. Here we’ll take a glance at the types of construction projects perfect for mini piling solutions.

Pre-existing structure

Mini piling is excellent for reinforcing, repairing, or replacing the foundations already installed under an existing property or structure! This is due to their slimmer and shorter size making them much easier to insert without affecting the existing load bearing.

Remote location

Is your site difficult to access or requires a long journey to reach? Mini piles are easier to load and transport and use less fuel in transit for a lower carbon footprint and some economic savings along the way! The more awkward your location is to reach, the more you’ll be aided by opting for mini piles over full-sized!

Lack of space

As above, mini piles are much easier to transport to and install in sites with little to no headroom or restricted manoeuvring space. Working in confined sites makes installing traditional piles very difficult and taxing on logistics. Mini piles are perfect for small spaces!

Awkward terrain

As you may have guessed, alongside confined spaces and remote sites, mini piles are well-suited for uneven or rough terrain that requires piling done at odd angles or in uneven layers of earth! Mini piles are perfect for reinforcing structures from multiple angles to ensure the weight bears equally.

Mini piling could be perfect for your project! Here at Rhino Piling we start every piling project with a full on-site evaluation, so you know you’re getting the perfect piling solutions for your specific needs! Get in touch today to see how we can help.

The Pros and Cons of Piling Materials

Piling is a method of installing deep foundations for construction which involves driving long, stake-like poles deep into the ground so they are supported by the firm, sturdy earth further into the ground and not the loose, muddy soil near the surface. Piles come in a variety of materials, each with its own unique advantages and disadvantages. We’re breaking these down here, so you can easily tell which is right for your project!

Wood

Using wood for piling results in the lowest rating for weight-bearing but is also the most economically friendly option! Wood is readily available and cheap, most especially if your construction project is taking place in a timber-rich region. Wooden piles are fairly light and easy to transport and install, so less machinery and expertise is needed, but wood is also very vulnerable to erosion and rot, meaning these piles can require higher levels of upkeep!

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Readily available
  • Requires little machinery and expertise

Cons:

  • Lowest strength
  • Can be damaged easily during installation
  • Most vulnerable to erosion

 

Concrete

Concrete is the next-strongest method of piling and, although a common misconception is that concrete cannot bear a heavy load, can be used to support industrial sized projects. Concrete is versatile and can be installed a number of ways. Pre-cast concrete piles are made in advance and transported to the site, just like wooden or steel piles would be. Cast in-situ piles are installed by pouring concrete into the ground and allowing it to set and can be installed with or without the aid of a steel casing. Concrete is incredibly resistant to erosion or weathering even in soil with very high/low PH values.

Pros:

  • Can support significant weight
  • Versatile and adaptable
  • Resistant to erosion

Cons:

  • Not as economically friendly as wood
  • Cumbersome to transport (pre-cast)
  • Still at risk of breaking during transit or installation

Steel

Steel is without a doubt the strongest material available. The durability of steel is second to none and it is easily cut to size or spliced together to lengthen. Steel is the only material able to support structures like skyscrapers, tower blocks, and other huge, industrial projects. Steel piles can be vulnerable to corrosion in the soil, especially near the top where it is more exposed to oxygen and groundwater. Steel is also the most expensive material available so, if you project can be fully supported by wooden or concrete piles, they would be the more economically sensible options!

Pros:

  • Maximum strength and highest load bearing
  • Easy to customise for specific projects

Cons:

  • Most expensive material
  • Can rust, oxidise and corrode

 

So which material is right for your construction? Each of these materials is perfect for one piling project, but completely unsuitable for another. For expert advice and a full on-site evaluation, contact Rhino Piling today, and we will ensure you end up with the ideal piling material for your specific needs.

The Top 3 Causes of Foundational Problems

A foundation could be considered the most important aspect of an entire structure as it is the part that gives a building its stability and longevity. If a foundation is compromised for any reason then the structure on top of it will be compromised too and this can display itself in a variety of different ways, the most serious result being subsidence. A deep foundation is often thought to be invincible because the problems associated with surface soil displacement cannot affect their stability, however there are other factors that can lead to foundational problems too. Read on as we go over the top three…

  1. Poor Drainage

A foundation is often damaged by soil that puts unnecessary pressure on the supports. Overtime, this will lead to movement and displacement. The biggest issue that we come across is poor drainage as this can lead to oversaturation of the soil which will cause it to swell and create an unstable foundation. In the majority of cases, foundational problems that are caused by poor drainage can manifest as short downspouts, clogged gutters and even a simple lack of waterproofing.

  1. Weather

Another way in which the soil can have an effect on the foundation of a property is via the influence of the weather. Both hot and dry conditions can lead to soil shrinkage around a foundation which can create instability, however this type of displacement will rarely affect piling approaches because they are a type of deep foundation. With this said, poorly designed and installed foundations and shallow foundations in particular are incredibly vulnerable to damage caused by the weather because soil shrinkage can create gaps that the foundation may settle into.

  1. Lack of Ground Preparation

Regardless of whether or not a foundation is deep or shallow, it is vital that the soil is prepared prior to the commencement of any work. In fact, an on-site evaluation serves to identify any concerns with the soil in order to ensure that the ground can be adequately prepared and provide a foundation with ultimate stability from the get-go. If this preparation step is skipped then it is possible that the foundation may begin to settle as the weight of the building starts to compact the soil, and this can cause numerous secondary problems.

When it comes to a compromised foundation, there is no time to waste contemplating your options as the stability of your property is at serious risk and delaying the process could lead to the development of subsidence. Here at Rhino Piling, we are equipped with the expertise to construct a brand-new foundation from scratch and also reinforce an existing foundation that has been compromised by any of the above. To speak to a member of the team about your property, get in contact with the best piling company on the market today.

The Different Ways That Mini Piling Has Been Adapted

In certain situations, it may not be possible to utilise traditional pling methods and technology without putting the stability of the overall structure at risk. As a foundational solution in its own right, mini-piling is an approach typically untaken in order to reinforce the foundations of residential properties and has been adapted with challenging projects in mind. Read on as we go over a few different examples…

The size of a mini piling rig

A mini-piling rig is the piece of machinery that is used in piling in order to drive the mini-piles into the soil. This set-up is usually bulky and can come in at 20ft tall with regards to traditional piling methods, however the rigs that are used for mini-piling have been adapted in order to take specialist circumstances into consideration. As a residential foundational solution, mini-piling is often carried out in situations where headroom is restricted or there are existing foundations located nearby. The smaller size of the rig makes it easier to access these sites and reinforce a foundation to our expected standard in a way that just wouldn’t be possible with traditional piling rigs.

The smaller diameter of the piles

Mini-piles are identical in design to traditional piles as they are made from the same materials (timber, concrete or steel), however their design has been adapted slightly in order to accommodate the needs of residential foundations. As the name suggests, mini-piles have a smaller diameter which means that they aren’t as thick as you may initially expect, however they’re just as strong and sturdy because they’re installed in order to create multiple points of strength within a foundation. The decision to manufacture mini-piles in this way makes them lighter and easier to transport which can reduce the associated costs for homeowners.

Mini piling is often recommended following the completion of a full on-site evaluation as this allows the Rhino Piling team to fully grasp the specific requirements of a project and take the condition of the soil into consideration. Whilst traditional piling is preferred for industrial or new projects, mini-piling offers an adapted approach when it comes to the reinforcement of existing foundations that need a little bit of TLC. To discuss the process in further detail, get in contact with the best piling Birmingham has to offer and speak to a member of the Rhino Piling team today!

The Process of Installing Groundworks

There are many different components involved in the process of laying a new foundation, and it is the responsibility of a groundworker to ensure that the site is suitable for the proposed construction. Groundworks is a commercial application that is carried out in order to prepare the subsurface soil, such as clearing the site and installing drainage. Here at Rhino Piling, we also offer a pre-fabricated steel cage installation service, preparation for slabs and the installation of concrete slabs as well as power floating. Read on as we go over the steps that are typically undertaken during groundworks…

Stage One: Conducting an Evaluation

As a legal requirement, it’s important that a full on-site evaluation is conducted prior to the commence of any construction work. During groundworks, this helps to identify any issues that may affect the finished foundation and ensure that the soil is in a suitable enough condition to undergo the proposed plan. During this time, new methods may be proposed or the original method may need to be adapted depending on the findings.

Stage Two: Installing the Foundations

After this, the site can be cleared by removing the topsoil and leveling the ground. The groundworks team will then turn their attention to the design and construction of the substructure and this could include excavations and the reinforcement of existing foundations. Retaining walls are often put into place during groundworks and are made from concrete, stone or blocks; these help to strengthen the load bearing capacity of the foundation. The purpose of this part of the process is to ensure that the finished foundation that goes on top is able to support the overall structure, whether it be a residential house or a commercial building. After all of these steps have been undertaken, the piling team can start to install shallow or deep foundations as per the projects’ needs and soil capabilities. In most circumstances, deep foundational solutions like piling are determined to be the most effective.

Stage Three: Landscaping

The final part of the process involves ensuring that there are no unsightly messes left behind on the site. Landscaping is usually carried out for residential projects or as a part of driveway foundations as these often specify a need for aesthetics, however it is generally in the groundworks teams’ best interest to ensure that all foundations are completely submerged under the soil in order to guarantee full foundational support and maintain the clients’ aesthetical expectations.

Groundworks are often seen as a commercial approach to foundations, however more and more homeowners are starting to consider the benefits of deep foundations as opposed to shallow foundations. As such, there is nothing preventing groundworks being applied to a residential project too. Get in contact with the best piling Mancester has to offer to discuss your options with a member of the Rhino Piling team today.

 

3 Benefits of Hydraulic Pile Driving Hammers

The equipment that is used in piling is highly specialised and requires a great deal of training in order to operate effectively. In fact, there are a number of different pile driving hammers to choose from depending on the specifications of each project such as drop hammers, single-acting hammers, double-acting hammers, diesel hammers, hydraulic hammers and vibratory hammers. In this blog, we’ve decided to go over some of the benefits of utilising a hydraulic hammer in piling…

Controllable and Variable Stroke

The design of a hydraulic hammer means that the system relies on hydraulic fluid and motors in order to raise the weight above the ground. This method can be closely monitored and is therefore a lot easier to control in order to create a variable stroke as determined by the piles themselves. After all, it is not always necessary for the weight to be raised to its highest point. By using a hydraulic hammer, piling experts are able to take specifics into consideration in order to generate an all-round effective outcome.

High Efficiency Blow

Piling is quite a labour-intensive process as the machinery can be bulky to operate. As such, efficiency is key and hydraulic hammers offer a highly efficient blow when raised to their full height. This means that the piling process can be carried out a lot more accurately as the piles can be driven into the ground further with each blow of the hydraulic hammer.

Low Impact Velocity

There is a common misconception that the efficiency of hydraulic piling means that the piles themselves may be compromised during the process of driving them into the group. As well as generating less noise, hydraulic hammers also offer low-impact velocity which means that the blow of the hammer is unlikely to cause the pile to rupture or damage because only one aspect is moving at any given time. As such, the only force acting upon the pile comes from the hammer from above.

The different variables of each pile driving hammer means that the approach to piling needs to be altered each time. After all, a hydraulic hammer makes use of hydraulic fluid and is powered by hydraulic motors in order to lift the hammer to the designated height in order to inflict a powerful enough blow. This approach is often used in traditional and commercial piling. To find out more about the different tools used in piling Manchester, get in contact with a member of the Rhino Piling team today!

Will a Poor Foundation Decrease the Value of Your Home?

The process of selling a property can be time-consuming and stressful, even with the help and assistance of a letting agency. After all, there are a number of different factors to take into consideration, such as the condition of the property, which can influence the asking price that you’ll be able to list it for on the market. Here at Rhino Piling, we know how daunting it can be to have potential buyers discuss the value of your home which is why we recommend that you carry out your own inspections beforehand to obtain a realistic price. Read on as we explain why poor foundations could affect the value of your property…

Did you know that a residential home with existing foundational problems can influence the way that your property is perceived on the market? After all, there are certain issues that potential buyers like to avoid when searching for their ‘forever home’ and it is not uncommon to have an inspection carried out by an external professional before putting in an offer. This allows buyers to get an understanding of the current state of the foundation, however the results also end up taking homeowners by surprise who are unaware of the true condition of their property.

In these situations, a potential buyer needs to weigh up the cost of rectifying the foundational issues with the overall cost of the property itself. Since a poor foundation is a big project and a lot of responsibility for buyers to undertake, it will ultimately affect the value that the property maintains on the market as the demand for the home may decrease.

This may happen in a number of different ways. For example, the buyers themselves may put in a reduced offer in order to take the cost of foundational work into consideration or the letting agency themselves may reduce the asking price. In order to avoid unexpected situations like these, it may be wise to ascertain the current condition of your property prior to putting it on the market and consider rectifying any foundational problems in advance. After all, a brand-new foundation may even increase the value of your property!

It pays to be prepared when putting your home on the market as every homeowner wants to stand out amongst the crowd and make the best impression. With this said, foundations that have seen better days or even the existence of subsidence may end up costing you as potential buyers may put in a lower offer in order to negate the cost of fixing the problem. As the best piling company around, we recommend that you look into the benefits of dealing with it beforehand. Get in contact with the Rhino Piling team to find out how today!