When it is time to screen for the best pier drilling contractors for a particular job it is wise to know what to look for in a contractor. Pier drilling isn’t one of your ordinary everyday construction tasks. It takes critical thinking and expertise to carry out a job of this caliber. If you trust the job with somebody that is not qualified, you could end up in big trouble down the road.

What is Pier Drilling?

When most people hear or see the word “pier” they automatically envision a long dock mounted on concrete pillars. The dock sprawls out and reaches far beyond the shore of the ocean and deep into the sea, sometimes hundreds of yards out.

If you imagine that same pier on the land, mounted on those same concrete pillars, but the pillars are deeply sunk into the ground, you can get an idea of the concept of pier drilling. The task of drilling deep into the ground to pour concrete, place rebar, and allow it all to dry to form a sturdy support system for a large structure is known as pier drilling.

  • Drilling deep into the ground with an auger
  • Installing rebar cage
  • Filling the shaft with concrete
  • Vibrate the shaft to cause concrete to settle

Although it seems like a cut-and-dry type of job, keep in mind that some of these drill bits are larger than 36 inches in diameter and some of the holes are 35 feet deep. It’s not like a person can go out and drill these holes with their cordless drill. This type of job takes heavy equipment and skilled professionals that know what they are doing.

It is easy to imagine a million things that could go wrong with drilling 35-foot holes in the ground.

Why Drill Underground Piers?

Deep, solid piers are set into the ground so that a large, heavy structure such as a building or a bridge can rest on top of it and get adequate support so it will not sink into the ground.

A drilled pier offers a deep foundation solution that helps to transfer the weight of the building further down into the ground. If you build a structure that is a couple of a million pounds on a flat concrete slab without the proper type of support the results could be catastrophic.

It goes without saying that in order to facilitate a job such as deep drilling you have to be experienced and understand the risks of the job and how important safety is.

An experienced and knowledgable pier drilling contractor will know:

  • Where to drill the holes
  • How deep to drill
  • The size of the auger
  • What is under the ground

Just imagine if a driller was to go out and drill in a place that had a natural gas pocket underneath, or a large body of water. Before the building that is going up is ever planned, the construction site will be surveyed and evaluated to determine whether or not it is a safe place to build. However, the contractor that will be doing the drilling will most likely double-check the situation instead of simply assuming it is safe to move forward.

What Kind of Equipment is Used For Pier Drilling?

The kind of equipment that a contractor will use to drill piers will vary depending on the type and size of the job. Basically, in order to drill a hole in the ground all you need are a few things:

  • Auger
  • Drill motor
  • Crew

Most people are familiar with the two-person fence post augers that you can rent from the local hardware supply store. Drilling holes for piers is basically the same concept but on a larger scale.

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Instead of a hand-held auger drill, most contractors that drill piers will use a drill rig. A drill rig is basically a large motor that is built on a tractor or a truck that can be driven around and stationed wherever the holes need to be.

Some contractors will use a crane-mounted drill rig that is basically a crane that holds a drilling motor, the auger bit, and however many extensions will be necessary to drill the hole as deep as it needs to be.

Probably the most important part of the drilling job is the crew that makes it all happen. In order to ensure a safe environment for everybody involved each person has to follow all of the safety protocols that are in place for the job and with OSHA, and they all have to know what they are doing. There is no room for guesswork or mistakes when you are dealing with a task that involves heavy machinery that could injure or kill a person in an instant.

How Does the Drilling Work?

Basically, the drilling works much like a large, complicated drill press. Most of us that attended wood shop class in high school are familiar with the drill press. Instead of a convenient arm to push down for the drill bit to be guided to the place, it is going, the drilling rig will be set up in a way that the auger bit will drill exactly where it is intended to.

Each setup will be different, depending on the type of rig that will be used and the circumstances of the job, however, all jobs will generally have the same goal, which is to drill the hole straight down exactly where it is supposed to be.

The auger bit will be attached to a shaft that is connected to a powerful motor that spins the shaft and causes the bit to spin like a drill. As the auger bit spins, it will be lowered slowly downward into the earth where it will begin its descent.

Every few feet down the auger bit will be pulled back up from the hole and all of the spoil that is caught in the grooves of the bit will be removed and put to the side.

This is a long and tedious task but the end result is a clean, deep shaft that will allow for a strong and sturdy pillar to be built upon. The spoil will be collected and hauled away for reuse, or to donate to an organization that needs it. Everybody is happy.

What Do the Contractors Do?

When it comes to the construction industry the contractors are the people that connect with potential customers and place bids on the jobs. When a contractor for a pier drilling company meets with customers it is usually because of a pretty big job with a multi-million dollar price tag.

Licensed contractors have to prove they are qualified to be contractors verifying experience and passing exams. Depending on the state that the contractor works in the laws and regulations regarding licensing will vary.

In any event, a pier drilling contractor will know and understand everything that pertains to the way pier drilling works, the way that the structure will stand on the piers, and what happens to the ground while drilling these deep holes.

The contractor will use knowledge and expertise to hire talented and experienced workers to get the jobs done as safely, efficiently, and excellently as possible.

Be sure that the contractor you hire for the job is experienced, has the right equipment, and knows exactly what they are doing. If not, you could end up with a big mess instead of a successful project.