What is Techno Metal Post?

What is Techno Metal Post Alaska?                                                                                    TMP Alaska is a company that installs helical piers by “screwing” them into the ground with our unique (and quite cool) R2D installation machine.  Once it is installed you can build off of it, anything from a sign to a 2-story house.

So what is a helical pier?
It is a steel post that measures 7′ in length and has a helix welded to the base of it.  The helix is what bites the ground and pulls it into the soil during installation.  The post’s diameter is between 1 7/8″ to 5 9/16″ depending on the load (weight) that the post will hold.  We offer posts that are made of black steel or posts that have been galvanized – your choice.

What is that green sleeve on all the posts?                                                                         The green sleeve is the ‘frost protection sleeve‘ that allows us to guarantee that our posts will never move or “heave” because of freezing soils.  It acts as a slip sheet over the post, so when winter comes and the ground freezes; the sleeve moves with the expanding pressure so that no pressure is on the post itself.

How do I build on top of a steel post?                                                                                  We provide many types of hardware that can be mounted on top of the posts.  The most common are U-shaped brackets that will receive 4x and 6x wood materials and flat brackets that will accept various types of lumber.   We offer an adjustable bracket with a 3″ range that allows for fine tuning and leveling of your project long after the post is installed. And finally, we can special order or manufacture any type of bracket for just about any application.

What can I build on top of these posts?                                                                             The short answer is, “just about anything”.  The loads of your proposed project determine the type and size of post we will install for any given project.  Since we offer 4 different post diameters; we can pick the right mix of posts to install to insure a properly engineered foundation.  Here is what we offer, the allowable loading weights and the types of applications each post is used for:

  • P1 – 6800 lbs. – Decks, signs, walkways, docks and alternative energy projects.  The P1 is our smallest post but it can hold more weight than most sonotubes or impact driven piles.
  • P2 – 9600 lbs. – Carports, sheds, sun-rooms, single level additions, yurts, and porch roof loads.  The P2 is the most versatile and is most frequently used post when the P1 is not enough.
  • P3 – 23,800 lbs. – Freestanding cabins, underpinning, garages, 2-story  additions and applications where the post will extend more than a few feet off the ground.  Not only does the P3 hold a lot of weight it can also be used for lateral loads, since the post diameter is wider and the steel is thicker.
  • P5 – 49,900 lbs. – Commercial / industrial applications, free standing homes and just about anything else.  The P5 is over 5″ in diameter and can hold an amazing amount of weight and our R2D machine can install these in most environments.

How does the engineering work?                                                                                      During the installation, we monitor the pressure gauge attached to our R2D which tells us the resistance the post is encountering during installation.  Our engineers have measured and tested the proper amount of resistance needed to attain certain loading amounts.  This means that after each post is installed and logged in our books, we can tell you the exact loading capacities of every post installed.  Before installation we must first determine the loading requirements and soil conditions of the project and then we will choose our posts, helix size and installation plan.  After every post is installed we preform a “hit test” where we strike the post with a specific sledge hammer multiple times to check for movement with a laser – this data is also logged for each post installed.  Below is a picture showing the “hit test” being prepared.

What type of soils can these posts be installed in?                                                       The quick answer is, we can install our posts in just about any type of soil.  Granular and gravel soils are optimal, but often we find that we need to build on less optimal soils like clay or even peat.  When we have a loose soil we can do a few things to attain the proper resistance so our engineering is proper:

  1. Install the post deeper until better soils are reached.  We can do this by welding 7′ extensions to the post.  After we join the extension and post together, we reattach the R2D and start installing the now 14′ long post.  We can keep installing extensions until the proper resistance is met for the project.  This usually occurs when the deeper and better soils are reached.
  2. Use a wider helix.  The helix is the part of the post that bears the most weight when the post is installed.  For loose soils, we can use a wider helix to increase the resistance at installation and total bearing surface of the post in the ground.
  3. Add additional helices to the post.  By adding one or two helices to each post or extension, we increase the bearing surfaces of the post like mentioned above.  All of our posts come with the single helix welded on at the factory.  If an additional helix is needed, it will be special ordered and require a minimum of one week to arrive.

What about rocks?                                                                                                                    Yes, rocks present a challenge with any foundation type.  Other than bedrock, we have a pretty good chance of installing our post in Alaska’s rocky soils.  During installation we have the ability to ‘sneak’ around rocks.  Sometimes we are able to sneak the helix through the rock and often we are able to add a slight angle to the installation “bending” the post around the rock.  Don’t worry, the post is not actually bending.  Finally, we have another type of helix; a “rock pitch helix”.  This is a smaller diameter helix that is at a steeper pitch than the normal ones which allows rocks more room to sneak through during installation.  Finally, if we cannot get around the rock we can dig it out just like you would when installing sonotube and impact driven piles.

So these posts will work in any soil, no matter what?                                                  No.  We wish that were the case, but it is not.  There will be a few cases where our posts will not be up to the challenge.  This will likely occur in a few scenarios –

  1. Rocks – If we hit too many rocks before we get below the frost zone and can not get around them, we can not install the post in that specific location.  We have the choice of moving the post and trying again; or excavating a little and reinstalling.  This is the same scenario with any foundation.
  2. Poor soils – If we cannot get the proper resistance during installation and every option in our bag of tricks fails, we cannot install the post in that location.  The benefit to you is that we were able to determine before building that the soils are not appropriate for holding up a building.  With other foundations you normally do not find out that the soils are bad until your building starts to settle – you can thank us for saving you from that headache.  🙂

Why would I not just use a sonotube instead?                                                                The short answer is that sonotubes often fail (even properly installed ones) and our installation process is much simpler, faster and less destructive.  Here is a quick list of TMP advantages over the traditional sonotube:

  • No excavation – TMP requires no excavation.  No holes are dug, no dirt is dumped on your lawn and we have essentially no impact to the grounds next to the post we are installing.  Below is a picture taken just after installation (notice the almost nonexistent impact to this yard) .

  • Fast – The excavation, forming, back-filling and concrete involved with a sonotube can last several days, not to mention waiting for the concrete to cure.  We can install a post ready to build on in as little as 30 minutes.
  • Engineered – When was the last time you ever saw a sonotube engineered for the soil and load conditions on a job?  Never.  The engineering for TMP is known for each post we install at the time of installation.
  • Cost – Our deck posts are very cost competitive with traditional sonotubes and when you count the other benefits; it is the best value available.
  • Guarantee – TMP are guaranteed to never move in winter with the heaving ground.  By getting them well below the frost line and adding our protective sleeve, the posts have minimum pressures on them trying to pull them out of the ground.  We have all seen that deck that has “heaved” up, TMP eliminates that risk.

Why not use mini piles or larger piles?                                                                                 I definitely prefer piles over sonotubes; but TMP are superior to piles as well.  Here is why:

  • Low impact – To install piles you need a skidsteer (Bobcat), mini excavator or large excavator.  This equipment is large and does damage to most established yards.  No matter how careful the installer is, running a 3000 lb. plus equipment through your yard is going to do some damage.  Our R2D is just under 1500 lbs. and has an option of using 8 wheels to displace its weight, minimizing impact to your yard.  It really looks like a bike with 4 tires rode over your lawn when we are finished.  Below is the proof!!!

  • Access – The width of the R2D is also under 36″; this means it will go through most gates and even through your front door if needed.  You do not have to disassemble your fence to get that new deck after all.
  • Engineered – Our posts can bear more weight than even some of the largest impact driven piles because we have the helix that distributes the weight over its entire surface.  A pile is similar to putting a straw in a milkshake – there is very little bearing surface to hold that straw up.
  • Guaranteed – Along with our “no heaving” guarantee we also guarantee our materials.  Our steel is manufactured and fabricated in North America and our products are built to be foundation grade posts.  We will never recycle old steel or oil pipes and install them, so why take that risk?
  • Quality – We offer galvanized posts and many different galvanized bracket options.  You also have the option of an adjustable head to fine tune your projects.  Finally, we also offer a variety of protection packages that will insure your posts do not rust and deteriorate over time – meaning we can offer an installation that will last a lifetime.
  • Price – With all the benefits listed above, TMP is cost comparative with mini piles and drastically less expensive than piles installed with larger equipment.

What is the difference between TMP and other helical pier installation companies?                                                                                                                                 Simply put – cost and the ease of installation.  Our smaller installation machine and variety of posts options allow us to offer a very cost competitive alternative to other helical pier systems.  For the first time in Alaska, helical piers will be affordable on the residential level and be cost competitive with alternative foundation systems.  While the technology of helical piers has been around for over 100 years, we have now created the path for quick and affordable residential installations that protect your yard, budget and peace of mind knowing that the best foundation technology is supporting your project.

So how much does this all cost?                                                                                              Well, that depends.  Since every building and installation is unique, the price can vary.  Here are some examples for a simple installation:

  • P1 – for an attached deck, 7′ post, bracket and frost sleeve – $300 EA installed, $10 per additional foot of extension.
  • P3 – for an addition, 7′ post, 7′ extension, bracket and frost sleeve – $425 EA installed, $30 per additional foot of extension.

If you have read this far, you know that there are many variables that can affect the installation and therefore affect the cost.  Insuring that your foundation is done properly and securely is the most important factor in your purchasing decision.

To find out more – give us a call 907.299.3334 or drop us an email – info@tmpalaska.com

We look forward in helping you with your foundation needs.