Let’s Talk About Steel Support Piers

Throughout much of my career, I have only run across a few manufactured homes that were placed on a steel pier foundation. In the Mid-Atlantic region, concrete blocks are typically used to construct piers and most installers stick with what they’re familiar with. About a year ago, while visiting some homes in Vermont, I first observed steel support piers being widely used. More recently, while traveling out west, I again was reminded that steel piers are a viable option to the typical concrete block pier. Maybe it is time to take a second look at steel piers, you might be surprised at what you find!

Typical Steel Support Pier.

First, steel piers are an acceptable foundation support, and I find them included in every installation manual as well as the model installation standards. However, you need to make sure that any steel pier used meets the minimum requirements.

First and most important, any steel pier must be labeled. The label should indicate the pier capacity, and that they have been evaluated by an independent third-party agency to assure that they are properly designed and constructed. If you purchase the piers from a manufactured home supplier, you can be pretty certain that they are providing you with the proper piers. But always check for the label!

Typical Label on a Steel Support Pier

 

Next, be sure to check the pier capacity. Most of the steel piers that I have seen are limited to a maximum capacity of 6,000 lbs. per pier. Your typical “load on frame” for a 14’ wide home, located in the south (20 Lbs.) roof load, at an 8’ spacing is around 5,500 lbs. Just be cautious and take steps to assure you don’t overload the pier. Most of the installations I have seen with steel piers, the installer reduced the spacing slightly for a bit of wiggle room.

Steel Support Pier with Listing Label

Steel Support Piers also come with adjustable risers which allow you to fit the pier head tight to the frame or floor of the home. Keep in mind that the adjustable riser may not extend more then 2” in the final position. And never use the adjustment screw to level the home!

No more than 2″ of threaded riser permitted above pier stand.

These steel support piers come in a variety of heights, are light-weight, and are certainly a huge time saver for the installers.

I know that some folks are concerned about durability, however these steel support piers must be coated to protect from corrosion. If the site is properly graded, and crawl space properly vented, I don’t think corrosion should be a problem.

Truth be told, none of the manufactured homes I inspected that used steel piers had any problems related to the support of the home and/or pier.

If you have followed this blog for a while, you know that I am a big proponent of giving people choices regarding the installation of their manufactured home. I encourage you to do a little research on this pier option. You just might be surprised at what you learn!

2 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Steel Support Piers

  1. I have been installing homes in NH, VT, MA and Ct for over 20 years. I have seen a lot of homes that have been installed with these steel pier supports. I have never used them, nor would I. In almost all cases that i’ve seen, the piers have been very rusty, do to lack of ventilation in the skirting and the salt that came off the frame from the transportation, when the frame starts to condensate from lack of ventilation. I prefer to use the concrete block for this reason.

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  2. Yes, we have been using the SureSafe foundation piers under our houses here in Maui, Hawaii since 2009.
    They are proven to withstand hurricanes (Hawaii is Wind Zone III), and are certified for earthquakes, too.

    However, I have run into an issue with the MH Advantage Program – they are requiring exterior cement walls, and ignoring these foundation piers. In Hawaii, we NEED the airflow under our homes so the SURESAFE foundation works very well.

    Thanks for bringing this to the attention of others!

    Francesca Carey
    FABMAC HOMES, INC.
    http://www.FABMAChomes.com
    808-244-0888

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