Home arrow Pile Integrity Test
Pile Integrity Test (Pulse Echo Method )
It has been established that cast in situ piles in majority of the cases fail because of defective pile shaft necking, discontinuity of concrete, intrusion of foreign matter and improper toe formation due to contamination of concrete at base with soil particles, washing of concrete due to high water current, adoption of improper construction method, poor quality control on concreting etc.. Cracks developed while handling of precast piles can also be a cause of failure. If pile integrity can be assessed before completion of pile caps, then this will go a long way towards certification of pile integrity.
Integrity testing is relatively quick and simple and enables number of piles to be examined in a single working day. The method does not identify all imperfections in a pile, but provides information about continuity, defects such as cracks, necking, soil incursions, changes in cross section and approximate pile lengths ( unless the pile is very long or the skin friction is too high ).

In this test, a small metal / hard rubber hammer is used to produce a light tap on the top of the pile. The shock traveling down the length of the pile is reflected back from the toe of the pile and recorded through a suitable transducer / accelerometer ( also held on the top of the pile close to the point of impact) in a computer disk for subsequent analysis.
The primary shock wave which travels down the length of the shaft is reflected from the toe by change in density between the concrete and the sub strata. However, if the pile has any imperfections or discontinuities within its length these will set up secondary reflections which will be added to the return signal.
By a careful analysis of the captured signal and a knowledge of the conditions of the ground, age of the concrete etc. a picture of the location of such problems can be built up.
Principle  &  Procedure : 
  • Hammer impact on the surface and a receiver monitors reflected stress wave. Time domain analysis used to determine travel time.
  • Based on One Dimensional Stress Wave approach, a low strain integrity testing
  • The pile head motion is measured as a function of time. The time domain record is then evaluated for pile integrity.
Significance and Use :
  • Suitable for - Slender structural elements like structural columns, driven concrete piles, cast in place concrete piles, concrete filled steel pipe piles, timber piles.
  • Evaluation of Pile integrity and pile physical dimensions i.e. cross-sectional area, length, continuity, and consistency of the pile material
  • Piles shall be trimmed to cut off level or sound concrete level before the test with all laitance removed.
  • For Pile Dia. > 500 mm  take additional reading
  • Apply Impact within a distance of 300 mm
  • Filter the signal  to eliminate High & Low frequencies
  • In a few cases where piles are too long or skin fiction is high, low strain method does not provide sufficient information particularly the toe reflection. In such cases high strain method can be used by giving higher impact energies
  • The cast-in-situ piles should not be tested normally before 14 days of casting as per IS code & not before 7 days as per ASTM.
  • The reasonably correct assessment of  Stress Wave Velocity of pile concrete is essential as an input.
  • A Complementary Ultrasonic Pulse velocity test  may be carried out at the head of the pile in order to arrive at the speed of sound propagation.
  • The test being a low cost and speedy, it is recommended to carry out testing of 100 % piles. The further tests such as Dynamic or Static Load tests may be decided upon the results of Pile Integrity Tests.
Pile Integrity Test (Pulse Echo Method )
Typical Pile Integrity Testing Instrument in use
Defective Piles
Pile – Reflectogram - Good  & Defective Pile
Limitations :
  • Evaluation is approximate and not exact.
  • No information about  load carrying capacity of pile.
  • It does not provide information regarding verticality or displacement in position of piles.
  • Minor deficiencies like local loss of cover, small intrusions or type of conditions of materials at the base of piles are undetectable.
  • Integrity testing may not identify all imperfections, but it can be useful tool in identifying major defects within the effective lengths.
  • The test may identify  minor impedance variations that may not affect the bearing capacity of piles. In such cases, the engineer should use judgment as to the acceptability of these piles considering other factors such as load redistribution to adjacent pile, load transfer to the soil above the defect, applied safety factors and structural load requirements.
  • Soil stiffness or founding on rock of similar density as the pile, will attenuate the signals such that there will be little or no toe reflection.
  • The low strain integrity method is applicable to cast-in-situ concrete bored and driven piles. Conclusive results are rarely obtained in case of segmented precast reinforced concrete driven piles or precast piles in prebored holes.
It may not detect :
  • The toe reflection when the L/D ratio roughly exceeds 20 (In hard soils) to 60 (In very soft soils)
  • Progressive changes in cross-section
  • Minor inclusions and changes in cross-section smaller than  25% .
  • Variations in length smaller than  10%.
  • Features located below a crack or a major (1:2) change in impedance
  • Debris at the toe
  • Deviations from the straight line and from the vertical