Alchemy-Spetec Blog

Infrastructure Leak Seal & Void Fill

Posted by Thad Brown on Sep 20, 2017 10:19:36 AM

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Infiltration of ground water into storm and waste water systems is a huge issue for many municipalities. This earlier blog article on the subject is an excellent resource.

Infrastructure Leak Seal & Void Fill-blog.pngAs Andy Powell states in his post:

Aging sewer and storm water systems across the country are plagued by infiltration and inflow; especially in areas with high water tables and sandy soils. Over time, compacted soils around catch basins, manholes, and culverts relax and result in deflection of joints and pipe connections. The end result is infiltration of ground water into the storm and waste water systems. This infiltration erodes the soils surrounding below grade drainage structures resulting in sinkholes, settling roadways, and property damage; not to mention the extra cost of treating that uninvited ground water.

But luckily there is a solution:

The solution is a combination of sealing leaking joints both from within the drainage structures and through point grouting from street level. Expansive polyurethanes such as Spetec F400, Spetec F1000, AP Seal 500, Spetec H100 and AP Fill 700 produced by Alchemy-Spetec can be injected directly into pipe and manhole connections where they react with infiltrating water and expand to seal off leaking joints. Additional point grouting from street level fills voids and permeates loose soils. This relieves hydrostatic pressure from the structures and strengthens the ground to support the above roadways and sidewalks.

Want more information on infrastructure leak seal & void fill?

Download an Info-Packed Infrastructure Leak Seal and Void Fill Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks

Concrete Leveling - A Special Case

Posted by Andy Powell on Sep 18, 2017 4:45:37 PM

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In the movie "Heartbreak Ridge", Clint Eastwood says his Marines are taught to "Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome".  You gotta love the United States Marines and of course, Clint Eastwood.  So if they don't mind, we are going to borrow that phrase because that's what we had to do when we came up against a tough slab lifting job this past weekend.  

Here at Alchemy-Spetec, we do have a 20' trailer rig with a PHX-40 pump in it.  We use it for slab lifting demos, training events and product testing.  This past weekend we used it to help out a family in need.  Their home was built in the 1990s and the garage was built on fill dirt surrounded by a concrete block wall.  Within a year of moving in, the garage slab settled several inches indicating poor compacted fill dirt.  The builder wouldn't address it, disappeared, and left this family with a sloping garage slab they've had ever since.  It had since become worse and something had to be done. 
A site evaluation told us that this was going to be no ordinary slab lift.  In some areas there were voids over a foot deep beneath the slab!  From the outside, it was easy to see where the CMU (concrete masonry unit a.k.a. concrete block) wall was buckling outwards.   Slab lifting with polyurethane exerts lateral forces too so I was worried about pushing the wall out further (which in turn would cause a collapse of the garage slab, wall, and everything else attached). 
This might have been a job to walk away from, but I thought there might be a way to do it.  First we installed bracing on the exterior of the CMU block wall to offer some support against the lateral forces likely to be exerted.  Once that was completed we began injecting in a grid with AP Lift 430, starting at the lowest point and working our way out from there.  
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I won't lie, this job was taking a lot of material because of the voids and the amount of lift required.  There was a lot of creaking and grinding going on as the slab was raising.  At one point we stopped and I decided to try something to give the wall more strength.  Inside the garage there was a cap block that ran along the top of the CMUs.  Drilling through the cap block, I was able to inject and fill the CMU wall cavities with the AP Lift 430, thereby tying those courses of block together with a polymer column. 
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That wall isn't going anywhere for a long time now, and strengthening it allowed us to complete the lift.  Now they can park the car in the garage for the first time in 15+ years, and the entire job took less than a day.  In all 
we raised the interior slab up over 4 inches.  
So next time you see a tough looking slab lift, ask yourself if you're going to just walk away or whether you're going to step up to the plate.  Make Clint proud!

Want more information on slab lifting?

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Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs

MixMaster Pro Tips

Posted by Andy Powell on Sep 15, 2017 4:48:55 PM


People buy the MixMaster Pro because they want the most dependable, high production slab lifting gun on the market. Sometimes they can't wait for hands on training and we have to go ahead and ship a gun to a customer we haven't been able to train face to face. To help get you up to speed on the MixMaster Pro, we captured some footage at recent job where I'm using the MixMaster Pro and discussing best practices.

Want more informaton on the MixMaster Pro?

Download an Info-Packed MixMaster Pro Brochure!

Topics: Equipment & Accessories, All Posts, Lift Slabs

Sealing Leaks with Spetec F400 - Underneath the St Lawrence Seaway

Posted by Anthony Sandone on Sep 13, 2017 3:31:49 PM

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I recently had the opportunity to train a crew on a very interesting job inside an underwater utility tunnel beneath a lock and dam in the St. Lawrence Seaway. This seaway connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. This tunnel is underneath a giant concrete deck, so the walls have taken a lot of pressure over time. The soil also shifts and settles underneath the tunnel as the years go by. Those factors, in addition to freeze/thaw cycles have caused cracks to appear in the walls.

One particularly large crack was 20 feet long and up to 2 inches wide in some places. The water leaking through created an especially dangerous situation considering the 480 volt electrical box you can see in the photo above. There is also plenty of valuable equipment in the tunnel that is susceptible to water damage.

I suggested to the customer that they buy about four 5 gallon pails of Spetec F400. I recommended this material because it works very well in wet joints and cracks. It also remains somewhat flexible after installation, so if the walls settle or shift a little more, the cured grout will not break. When I showed up we got to work immediately with our on-the-job training, using modified airless sprayers to pump the material.  Overall, it took about 2.5 hours for the crew to get the job done while learning the leak seal process at the same time.

Want more info on sealing leaks with chemical grouts?

Download an Info-Packed Leak Seal Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks

Thoughts with Houston and Florida

Posted by Stephen C. Barton on Sep 11, 2017 10:59:59 AM


Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the recent hurricanes in Houston and Florida. If you're in any of the affected areas, stay strong and stay safe!  

If you're in a position to contribute to relief efforts, you can do so ON THIS DONATION PAGE AT REDCROSS.COM.

Topics: All Posts

Culvert Repair With AP 475

Posted by Andy Powell on Sep 8, 2017 5:05:53 PM

culvert repair- banner.pngThe Great Plains of Canada stretch from Manitoba, across Saskatchewan, and on into Alberta.  This predominantly agricultural region is the breadbasket of our neighbor to the North.  Small towns and villages are scattered across these thousands of square miles, serving as the small population bases for the farming communities.  These rural municipalities are faced with unique challenges when it comes to managing their water systems, roadways, and other infrastructure.  For example, if there is a road that needs a small amount of paving or some concrete that needs to be poured, there may only be one time per year when the mobile batch plants comes through town.  Combine this with some bitter cold, a very limited budget, and long distances to industrial centers, and you can see how it is hard on the small municipalities.  Small issues are major, and major issues can be catastrophic.

culvert repair- blog.pngIn central Saskatchewan we have a contractor, JACC Structures, that we have been working with going on our third year now.  The owner, Randy Serhan, purchased a slab lifting poly rig from our company and we helped him on his first big job, lifting all of the slabs in a cement plant that was being converted to a seed sorting facility. (Click here for the case study on that job.) Since that successful project, we have increased Randy and his crew's training to include crack injection, curtain wall grouting, and permeation grouting for soil stabilization.  With these skills he has found a lot of opportunities to stop leaks and stabilize soil for mines, agricultural facilities, and municipalities.  Many times a hero in his 22 years working as a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer, he is now seen in that same light as he saves small communities thousands of dollars saving roads and infrastructure that otherwise might fail. 

Take the small community of Star City, Saskatchewan as a recent example.  They had a corrugated metal culvert that passed under a gravel road for about 60 feet.  Most of the roads there are gravel and this was one of the major routes used by farm combines and tractors.  The last several years Saskatchewan has been plagued by high water tables, often making some farmland unusable.  The culvert in Star City was subject to a good amount of water flow and over time, the water actually washed out the soils around the inlet of the pipe.  This progressed until there were actual streams of water flowing beside and beneath the pipe, rather than through it.  This is not unusual and in a lot of cases it is undetected; the erosion of the soil eventually washing out to the point that the the overburden collapses.  In this case the road would have caved in unless it was treated. 

For anyone who has ever installed large culverts made of plastic or corrugated steel, you know that it is the back fill around the pipe that provides a lot of the strength.  Trying to pack soils or rock underneath the lower areas of a pipe is difficult at best and that's often an area of weakness.  In this case the soils washed out and something needed to be done.  Star City and JACC knew of each other through tradeshows like the SWA conference in Saskatoon.  The municipality reached out to Randy and asked him to come take a look at the problem.  "You betcha" was the standard Canadian reply when they asked if he had a solution. 

As I mentioned, these types of problems with erosion around culverts are not unusual.  The town was already looking at a $65,000 outlay to have the road and culvert dug up and replaced, in addition to the $25,000 cost of the culvert itself.  Not to mention the downtime and inconvenience of having to go miles out of the way to get past the road closure.  Working from the inlet of the pipe and on through it, JACC injected two rows of structural AP Lift 475 through the wall of the pipe, to provide a bedding for the pipe and to fill up the erosion voids created by the water flow.  One row was at approximately the 5 o'clock position in the pipe and the other row mirrored at the 7 o'clock position.  This work was all completed without any excavation or road closure.  The end result was a total success with the water flow cut off, the pipe bedding stabilized and strengthened, and the voids filled.  It was completed in less than a day and at a cost to the city below 5 figures.

Want more information on Alchemy-Spetec products?

Download the Info-Packed AS Product Catalog!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks

Curtain Wall Grouting

Posted by Thad Brown on Sep 6, 2017 11:36:30 AM

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Curtain Wall Grouting-blog (3).pngCurtain wall grouting is a leak seal method that is often required when cracks cannot be identified, when walls are made of material that does not respond well to crack injection (such as masonry, stone and CMU), and when previous leak seal methods have failed.  

Curtain wall grouting is the process of injecting water reactive resin behind the leaking wall in a widespread grid pattern. The water on the other side mixes with the grout and cures to a solid mass covering the surface of the wall on the other side. In addition, you don’t have water pressure dislodging external “patches” over time, as can be the case with other methods. This procedure is best done with either AP Fill 700, Spetec H100 or one of the Spetec AG100 - 300 series of acrylate grouts.

These expansive one-component polyurethane resins can be injected through the wall to cut off large flow and high pressure water leaks. The resins react with the water on the other side to form a long lasting, durable seal. AP Fill 700 has a high rate of expansion and a little flexibility. Spetec H100 has a lower rate of expansion but a bit more flexibility. The Spetec AG 100 - 300 series has a very low rate of expansion (only a slight swelling) but a lot of flexibility. 

Want more info on curtain wall grouting?

Download an Info-Packed Curtain Wall Grouting Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks

Residential Seawall Repair

Posted by Thad Brown on Sep 1, 2017 3:50:46 PM

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In this post I'd like focus on residential seawall repair. If you love the ocean, then living near the water can be an ideal situation most of the time. You can enjoy scenic views of the sea, easy access to the water, and gentle ocean breezes as you sit out on your deck.

Residential Seawall Repair-blog (1).pngBut one challenge many oceanfront home owners eventually find themselves facing is leaking seawalls. You depend on seawalls to keep water on the outside and the the soil that supports your property on the inside. The seawall protecting your property is vulnerable to many degrading factors. As my colleague Andy Powell wrote in his excellent blog post Stop Erosion through Your Seawall with Polyurethane, "salt corrosion, tidal action, currents, boat wakes, storm surges and sometimes hurricanes all deliver a constant beating on the seawall."

Sometimes seawall leaks become evident through the telltale sign of unstable soil (basically, small mini-sinkholes) just inside the seawall. Observable symptoms along these lines can also be an indicator of further, unseen damage, as Andy explains in his article, "...these voids can extend below an adjacent patio, dock, or pool deck, eventually causing those structures to sink and crack."

Fortunately there's a solution! AP Fill 700 and Spetec H100 are semi-rigid hydrophobic polyurethane foams that react with moisture in the soil and expand to fill voids while they permeate the soil to form a solid, strong, watertight mass. They have been used extensively in seawall applications to seal cracks and defects, as well as fill voids and stabilize soil.

Want more information on polyurethane seawall repair?

Download an Info-Packed Seawall Repair Brochure!

Topics: Repair Seawalls, All Posts

Information is Power - Slab Lift Tools You Need to Know About

Posted by Andy Powell on Aug 30, 2017 3:50:15 PM


There are contractors that lift the everyday slabs, performing a great service fixing trip hazards, reviving previously unusable floor space, and supporting the investment of the property owner.  Then there are slab and foundation lifting contractors who take it to the next level – every opportunity is a challenge to be conquered.  The results are often fantastic – people’s entire homes lifted back into place, factories and warehouses returned to life, and countless potential hazards and injuries avoided.

tools-blog (4).pngBut first you’ve got to understand one thing; you can’t bring a knife to a gunfight.  Expert contractors have to know what is going on at all times.  In the picture at the top of this post, you can see a slab that I probably would have not attempted to repair.  However, with several tools to help monitor the different pieces of this puzzle, this contractor was able to put it back together again.  They say information is power and I am a firm believer in that, especially when it comes to taming jacked up concrete slabs.  In the picture you can see three different slabs.  Our customer Morgan Helms of Helms Polyfoam (Jackson, MS) is using a ZipLevel, a machinist’s dial indicator, and a putty knife to monitor what each of the slabs is doing.

The MixMaster gun is injecting underneath the slab that he wants to raise. 

So what are these different monitoring tools doing?  Let’s take a look….

  1. tools-dial.pngThe dial indicator tells him which slab is moving. In the picture, the base of the dial indicator is on the slab that Morgan is injecting under while the dial point is on the slab he doesn’t want to move. It doesn’t really matter how you configure it as long as you understand what the needle movement means.   A needle on a machinist dial indicator moves in .001” increments.  If the needle on this dial indicator is rising, that would mean the wrong slab is lifting and he knows to stop.  If the needle is falling then the slab he is injecting under is lifting, and that’s what he wants.

  2. tools-zip level.pngSo what if both slabs are moving equally? In that case the dial indicator would remain stable or fluctuate slightly in both directions.  This is where a ZipLevel or a laser transit would come in handy.  Morgan has his ZipLevel indicator box (in yellow) on the slab he doesn’t want to move.  It will let him know if the slab he doesn’t want to move is lifting so he can stop and re-evaluate what to do next.

  3. tools-putty knife.pngOne of my favorite tools is the metal putty knife. Slabs often move in increments so small that you can’t detect them visually.  If you wedge a putty knife into a crack between two slabs, you will see it wiggle when there’s slight movement.  So the putty knife in the picture is on the third section of slab and letting Morgan Helms know what is going on with that piece.

You can use other things like string lines, tape measures, and laser transits as well.  The point is that real time information is likely to give you a better finished result, and it will also help you avoid making mistakes.

Want more information on slab lifting ?

Download an Info-Packed Slab Lift Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs

Floor and Wall Joint Leak Repairs with Polyurethane 

Posted by Anthony Sandone on Aug 28, 2017 3:12:35 PM

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When it comes to floor and wall joint leak repairs, there are usually two scenarios to consider. These repair jobs usually come about because of leakage where the floor and wall typically meet. Each scenario determines where drill points should be placed for repair procedures using polyurethane.

Scenario 1:

floor wall- blog.pngIn this scenario the floor has been poured first before a wall is made to confine a space. To fix leaks that occur in this type of joint, a hole is drilled at the bottom of the wall. This is usually about 6-8 inches above the floor and at a 45 degree angle. Once drilled, soaked oakum is then placed in the hole. Once cured, the oakum serves as a gasket and initial leak seal. Polyurethane grout is then pumped into the hole for a deeper seal, while the oakum gasket prevents it from spilling back out.

Scenario 2:

floor wall- blog (1)-1.pngIn this scenario the wall has been poured first before the floor. The hole is drilled on the floor about 6-8 inches from the wall and at a 45 degree angle. Soaked oakum is placed into the hole to create an initial seal and gasket. Polyurethane grout then injected behind it for a thorough leak seal solution.

Materials often used for these applications:

AP Oakum: for creating gaskets

AP Fill 700: for drilled holes that are about 2 inches wide

Spetec F400: for drilled holes that are between ½ and 1 inch wide

AP Seal 500: for tight joints with multiple hairline cracks

Spetec F1000: works well if curtain grouting is needed to drill through brick walls

Want more information on sealing leaks?

Download an Info-Packed Leak Seal Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks