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ECP Combines High-Quality, U.S.-Made Products With Customer Service

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Clients can find ECP’s products and contractors across the country.

Earth Contact Products (ECP) is a global manufacturer of foundation repair products, working with more than 400 contractors who continue the company’s commitment to excellence. Not only do ECP’s engineers work closely with its contractors to provide the service and support they need, but that level of service extends to the company’s customers. Additionally, that service and support is always backed by the company’s USA-made products. 

ECP’s products and contractors are found around the country. In Boston, for example, Atlas Systems of New England used 190 ECP Torque Anchor piles to support a new condominium project. The project started with several years of extensive permitting with local and state conservation commissions to get the necessary approvals. Part of this is because the condo building was being built near the water. The owner investigated driven piles for foundation support in the weak, soft soil at the site, but the potential environmental impact of bringing a pile driver on the site would cause more permitting problems with some regulatory agencies. 

The owner needed to find an environmentally safe foundation support alternative that would be accepted by the regulatory agencies, and the answer to this issue was helical screw piles. Atlas Systems of New England was able to provide engineering expertise and extensive helical screw pile foundation experience in sensitive environments like this one. First, however, several major challenges had to be addressed. 

The work had to be done during the local tidal changes and with a high water table on the site. The weak soil also generated concern that the piles might have trouble achieving the required shaft torsion to adequately support the design loads. ECP notes there were no deep soil borings available to verify the underlying soil stratums below target depth were as strong as, or stronger than the soil at the target embedment depth. 

“It is well known that in some locations in the Massachusetts area that if a target stratum does not provide sufficient load capacity, the next stratum of suitable bearing soil could be over 100 feet deep,” ECP says. “This unknown about the soil being able to achieve the required pile capacity within the target depth range, along with the possibility of much weaker clay soil below the target depth, created concern for the owner about increased construction costs.”

The company notes new FEMA regulations governing coastal construction mandate that foundation piers must provide compression capacity and must resist tension forces from tidal surges. Additionally, the local building code stated first floor elevation must be a minimum eight feet above the mean high tide mark. 

Strong and Safe

Atlas Systems of New England determined the engineering design for the helical screw pile that would support the design load was an ECP TAF-350-84 12-12-14 torque anchor. This configuration consists of a three-and-a-half-inch diameter structural steel tubular pile shaft with two 12-inch diameter helical flights and one 14-inch diameter helical flight attached to its shaft. 

During the installation of the helical piles, some placements did not achieve the required installation shaft torsion to meet the design capacity, ECP notes. An installation log was made at each placement, and these logs were reviewed by the structural engineer of record. Each of the deficient placement locations was carefully checked against the specific calculated design load at the particular location. 

“Most of the placements with lower-than-expected terminal shaft torque provided sufficient capacity plus a suitable factor of safety to be accepted by the engineer,” ECP says. “After the complete engineering review of the installation logs, only a few locations needed a supplemental pile for additional support. The project was completed on time and all 190 helical screw pile placements were approved by the engineer and regulatory agencies.”

Resolving Landfill Issues

ECP and Foundation Professionals of Florida helped solve other issues at a landfill site in Florida, proving that buildings built on landfill will settle. The Renewable Energy Facility building was built in 2004; the 20,000-square-foot single-story building was constructed with slab-on-grade foundation, concrete block walls and steel truss roof supports. Documents showed the building is supported on a continuous grade beam that is 30 inches wide and situated 28 inches below the finished floor-slab elevation. Concrete pads are present under multiple large 16-cylinder Caterpillar generators and other pieces of equipment and equipment supports. 

Google Earth historical aerial imagery showed the building straddles the west edge of a closed landfill cell. The original building plans have a detail for the over excavation of the unsuitable landfill materials, but evidence shows this specification was skipped by the original contractor. The existing building showed signs of foundation movements and instability, appearing as separations between the wall and floor slab, stair-step fractures, vertical cracks in the masonry work and differential movement with cracks in the floor slab. Additionally, the east wall of the building showed lateral movement toward the east along with wall rotation, causing several roof joists to pull away from the west wall-bearing plates. 

“In 2011, a local competing foundation repair company installed 75 steel push piles under the parts of the east wall and floor slab on the south half of the building,” ECP says. “There were areas of concrete slab showing evidence where previous foundation work had been installed. Patches were visible on the interior and exterior masonry and on the slab. No foundation repairs were made on the north end of the building. The plant manager stated that after the previous foundation underpinning and repair was complete, some parts of the building were better than before the repairs and some parts were worse. The building continued to move both in the area of the previous foundation work and in other portions of the building.”

The remediation procedure was designed to vertically and laterally stabilize the foundation of the structure. Recovery of the lost floor elevation and vertical stability was accomplished by installing ECP Steel Piers that provide end-bearing resistance against a verified and proof-load-tested stratum deep below the surface. 

The lateral movement of the concrete footings required ECP Torque Anchor Tieback Anchors that were attached to the ECP Steel Piers. It also needed 20 slab pier supports to lift and stabilize settlement and slab misalignments. At the locations of differential slab movement, the defects were corrected using ECP Torque Anchor compression piles connected to slab brackets. Steel angle supports were installed at the ends of 34 roof trusses to provide load bearing. 

“Foundational Professionals of Florida had to overcome several obstacles and challenges to complete the project,” ECP says. “Many massive concrete bollard foundations were encountered and had to be removed to gain access for the installation machinery. The original underpinning placement plan had to be modified several times because of conflicts with the 75 previously installed piers from 2011. There were serious amounts of garbage and debris uncovered from under the structure during excavations. Even though over-excavation of areas with landfill were specified on the original plans, the building contractor failed to remove the debris and failed to place select control fill at these locations. The existence of sub-surface garbage, liquids and major debris caused major construction time delays. Over-excavated foundations under canopy support were encountered and some footings were larger than specified on plans causing extra time and work to remove and replace.” 

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