Alchemy-Spetec Blog

Sealing Leaks on Remote Job Sites – Part 1

Posted by Andy Powell on Sep 17, 2018 10:44:47 AM

When sealing leaks on remote job sites, a thorough evaluation of a remote job site must be undertaken. Then a plan and a master list of what you will need must be created. Read more...

When sealing leaks on remote job sites, a thorough evaluation of a remote job site must be undertaken. Then a plan and a master list of what you will need must be created. Read more...

Hopefully these tips on overcoming obstacles on remote job sites will be of assistance on your next out-of-the-way project. At one point I had the opportunity to advise a customer who was repairing pipe penetrations of aerial manholes along a drainage basin in SW Atlanta. Aerial manholes are typically found in low spots next to creeks and rivers. They are usually connected by steel or ductile iron sewer pipes that are above ground and thus, so are the penetrations.

The conditions of the job site were unique as there was no access to the individual manholes except by foot. This particular project covered a winding 1-1/2 miles through ravines and involved several crossings of the stream. The goal was to seal the 18” and 22” pipe penetrations that were leaking raw sewage down the faces of the manholes located along the creek. In this report I will let you know how we got started in preparation for the unique set of challenges this project presented.

First of all, a thorough evaluation of a remote job site must be undertaken. This should be done prior to submitting a bid, but it should also be done again with an extra set of eyes prior to commencing the work. Then create a plan and a master list of what you will need:

  1. Consider all of the possibilities of how to mobilize; where can you set up the nearest base camp for your trucks and supplies.
  2. What tools or alternative tools can be used to get the job done; realize there are certain conveniences you're not going to have, like generators and air compressors, and find alternative methods.
  3. Select the right Leak Seal materials to get the job done such as AP Seal 500, AP Fill 700 and activated oakum.
  4. Prepare a good safety plan. We experienced rugged terrain, snakes, bees, ticks, extreme heat, downpours, and lightning. Think about how to protect your people, your materials, and your gear. Make sure to have first aid and hydration available on site and at the base camp.
  5. Have a communication plan – make sure you have reception between the job site and the base camp. If cell phones don't work then bring walkie talkies. Have someone at the base camp to watch gear, to get supplies when necessary, and to be available for help in case of an emergency.
  6. Be prepared to clean up your job site with respect for the environment. If you haul it in, be ready to haul it out.
  7. Last of all, choose the right people for your crew. Think carefully, because these kinds of jobs are not for timid or easily discouraged personality types.

In my next post I will go into detail on the procedures and tools we used to stop the leaks through a combination of polyurethane injection and activated oakum.

Want in-depth info on leak seal procedures and products?

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Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks

Structural Failures Caused by Water Leaks in Concrete

Posted by Andy Powell on Sep 14, 2018 10:12:43 AM

Water leaking through concrete can lead to structural failures, sinkholes, and other costly types of property damage. So where are the areas do contractors and property owners need to pay attention to? Read more...

Water leaking through concrete can lead to structural failures, sinkholes, and other costly types of property damage. So where are the areas do contractors and property owners need to pay attention to? Read more...

Water leaking through concrete can lead to structural failures, sinkholes, and other costly types of property damage. For property owners, it is important to be aware of potential problem areas in your facility, factory, or residence. For concrete restoration and waterproofing contractors, it is important for your business to know where to look for leak sealing opportunities.

So where are the areas that contractors and property owners need to be looking? Here we have broken it down into two broad categories: Commercial / Industrial / Municipal and then of course, Residential.

Commercial / Industrial / Municipal

  • Tanks: Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants, Aquariums
  • Infrastructure: Concrete Pipe, Manholes, Pipe Penetrations, Lift Stations, Pumps Stations, Utility Vaults
  • Industrial Plants: Machinery Pits, Containment Structures, Retaining Walls, Slab Joints
  • Tunnels: Tunnel Segments, Retaining Walls, Headwalls and Wing Walls
  • Commercial: Floors, Parking Structures, Elevator Pits, Basements
  • Specialized arenas for sealing leaks in Mines, Dams, and Power Plants.

Residential

  • Single Family: Basements, Foundation Walls, Swimming Pools, Fountains, Seawalls, Retaining Walls
  • Multi Family: Elevator Pits, Parking Garages, Seawalls, Pools, Basements
  • Farms: Silos and Tanks, Earthen Dams, Manmade Ponds

Alchemy-Spetec manufactures an effective range of polyurethanes designed to seal leaks for all of the above issues. We also strive to continually educate the market. 

Want in-depth info on leak seal procedures and products?

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Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks

Polyurethane Leak Seal Demo

Posted by Andy Powell on Sep 12, 2018 11:20:33 AM

Leaking concrete structures can be permanently repaired using a water activated flexible foam. Take a look at this video to see a polyurethane leak seal demo.

Leaking concrete structures can be permanently repaired using a water-activated flexible foam. Pressure injection of these liquid resins forces the material into leaking cracks, joints, and other defects where the resin rapidly reacts with water to form a flexible, water tight seal.

From hairline cracks to gushing leaks, virtually any of these defects can be repaired with our leak seal resins. Take a look at this polyurethane leak seal demo video.... 

Want more in-depth info on polyurethane leak seal?

Download an Info-Packed Leak Seal Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks

The Causes of Unstable Soil: Decomposition

Posted by Andy Powell on Sep 10, 2018 1:21:29 PM

When soil has a high concentration of organic materials, it will naturally begin to decompose. When soil begins to decompose and shift, it can affect the structural stability of any surrounding building. Sinkholes, unstable soil, and low spots are all indications of soil decomposition. Read more...

When soil has a high concentration of organic materials, it will naturally begin to decompose. When soil begins to decompose and shift, it can affect the structural stability of any surrounding building. Sinkholes, unstable soil, and low spots are all indications of soil decomposition. Read more...

When the residue of plants or animals is converted into soil, the process is known as decomposition. Bacteria, fungi, and worms break down this residue, taking nutrients from them and leaving the remaining portion. Organic molecules are broken down into simpler inorganic molecules. This biological process changes the makeup of the soil and can therefore lead to soil instability.

What are the causes of decomposition?

When soil has a high concentration of organic materials, the soil will naturally begin to decompose. Throughout this process of decomposition, the mass and form of these organic materials will change. Up to 90 percent of organic material will actually disappear over the course of the decomposition process, which means the mass of the soil will decrease substantially, reducing the quantity of available soil. The causes of decomposition can be broken into two main groups: manmade and natural. Trash pits or buried construction debris can cause manmade decomposition, while tree stumps and peat content can cause natural decomposition. 

What are signs of decomposition?

Sinkholes, unstable soil, and low spots are all indications of soil decomposition. When soil begins to decompose and shift, it can affect the structural stability of a building, compromising the integrity of foundations and manmade structures. 

How can decomposition be addressed?

In some cases, it is possible to dig up the cause of decomposition. For example, it might be possible to extricate a trash pit or old construction debris from the soil. However, in some cases this simply isn’t feasible. You can’t easily extricate a trash pit after you have already built on top of it. If removal isn’t an option, the best solution is to envelope the area with a high concentration of organic material using expansive polyurethane. This process is known as encapsulation, and it essentially works to compact the area and reduce the amount of oxygen and water that can get to it, thereby helping to slow decomposition.

Want in-depth info on soil stabilization procedures and products?

Download an Info-Packed Soil Stabilization Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Stabilize Soil

The Causes of Unstable Soil: Freezing and Thawing

Posted by Andy Powell on Sep 7, 2018 11:34:58 AM

For construction engineers and contractors, freezing and thawing can prove to be incredibly problematic. Freeze and thaw cycles accelerate soil instability which causes structures, such as roadways, railways, foundations, and pipeline supports, to sink. This can cause major headaches. Read more...

For construction engineers and contractors, freezing and thawing can prove to be incredibly problematic. Freeze and thaw cycles accelerate soil instability which causes structures, such as roadways, railways, foundations, and pipeline supports, to sink. This can cause major headaches. Read more...

What is freezing and thawing?

As the name suggests, freezing and thawing refers to a natural phenomena in which soil freezes in cold weather and then thaws out again once the temperature warms up. Freezing and thawing in northern climates is good news for farmers, as it helps to loosen up the soil and reduce compaction, which makes it easier for crop roots to grow. However, for construction engineers and contractors, freezing and thawing can prove to be incredibly problematic, especially if they are building on fine-grained soils with silt or clay factions, which are more prone to freezing and thawing.

What are the problems associated with freezing and thawing?

Essentially, freezing and thawing cycles accelerate soil instability. Soil with pores containing small particles of frozen water, is known as permafrost. Building on permafrost is fine, as long as the soil stays frozen, but things become problematic once the permafrost begins to thaw. Freezing and thawing of permafrost causes soil to become soft and less compact. Subsequently, this causes structures, such as roadways, railways, foundations, and pipeline supports, to sink. Obviously, this can cause major headaches.

How can the problem of freezing and thawing be mitigated?

Structural polyurethane such as AP Lift 475 can be used to raise settled structures and compact the ground. In addition, permeation grout such as AP Soil 600 is now being looked at as an option to displace water particles in the soil pores. Depending on the soil type, this could prevent frost heave, resulting in a stronger, more consistent base to build on.

Want in-depth info on soil stabilization procedures and products?

Download an Info-Packed Soil Stabilization Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Stabilize Soil

The Causes of Unstable Soil: Poor Compaction

Posted by Andy Powell on Sep 5, 2018 12:05:53 PM

When soil does not adequately compact, the problem is known as poor compaction. There are a variety of causes of poor soil compaction. However, much of it boils down to soil texture and soil properties. Read more...

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Many types of infrastructure, including roads, bridges, buildings, etc., depend on compacted soil in order to stay in place. Therefore, in order for these structures to last, a specific degree of compaction must be achieved. When soil does not adequately compact, the problem is known as poor compaction, and that can lead to more serious issues. Concrete repair contractors always need to be on the lookout for signs of poor compaction which include settling slabs, cracking foundations, and dips in roadways and railroads.

What causes poor soil compaction?

There are a variety of causes of poor soil compaction. However, much of it boils down to soil texture and soil properties. Some soils are more prone to compaction than others. Excess soil salt content, high clay fraction soils, low pH soils, and soils with high water content tend to compact less favorably. It should also be noted that decisions made by construction contractors and their teams can also influence soil compaction. For example, failure to select proper compaction equipment or compaction materials can contribute to poor compaction. Furthermore, some areas are more prone to poor compaction than others, such as portions of soil set against a foundation.

How can poor soil compaction be corrected?

Luckily, poor compaction can be corrected. The solution is to strengthen the soil to the point that it is properly compacted. As mentioned in the previous post, AP Soil 600, AP Lift 475 and AP Fill 700 are a few products that may be appropriate. Contact Alchemy-Spetec for expert advice at 404-618-0438 if you are currently facing a soil stabilization issue.

Want in-depth info on soil stabilization procedures and products?

Download an Info-Packed Soil Stabilization Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Stabilize Soil

The Causes of Unstable Soil: Erosion

Posted by Andy Powell on Aug 31, 2018 10:32:59 AM

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What is erosion? In geological terms, erosion can be defined as an exogenic process that moves a portion of the earth’s crust from one location to another. Read more...What is erosion?

In geological terms, erosion can be defined as exogenic process that moves a portion of the earth’s crust from one location to another. Exogenic process refers to a range of different processes, including water flow, wind, and even human action, that move dirt, soil, rock, etc. They are called exogenic processes because they originate outside of the earth’s crust, or externally. In more practical terms, erosion can best be described as the way in which the earth is worn away by water, wind, or ice. So when a river carves a canyon out of stone (such as when the Colorado River carved out the Grand Canyon in Arizona over the course of thousands of years), that is an example of erosion. The formation of sand dunes by the wind moving across the desert is also an example of erosion, as are changes in rocks along a shoreline due to the constant thrashing of waves. 

Why does erosion cause unstable soil?

You’ve probably heard that erosion is dangerous because it causes unstable soil. It is important to remember that consequences of erosion can potentially be dramatic, causing landslides and structural damage. After investing money in the construction of a building, the last thing you want is for unstable soil to put the whole project at risk. 

How can erosion be repaired?

Voids can be filled, soil consolidated, and water migration halted by permeating the soil with one of the ultra low viscosity polymer resins in our AP Soil series of resins. Once the bearing capacity of the soil has been increased with this process, then the structure can be lifted if necessary. For example, AP Soil 600 is a one component resin that requires no catalyst. This resin encapsulates and strengthens loose soil, is water tight, and environmentally friendly. Other AP products used in soil stabilization/void fill include AP Lift 475 and AP Fill 700.

Want in-depth info on soil stabilization procedures and products?

Download an Info-Packed Soil Stabilization Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Stabilize Soil

The Causes of Unstable Soil: A Brief Overview

Posted by Andy Powell on Aug 29, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Unstable soil can threaten the stability, security, and safety of infrastructures and can damage, degrade, and even destroy a number of structures. There are a variety of factors that can cause unstable soil. Read more...

Unstable soil can threaten the stability, security, and safety of infrastructures and can damage, degrade, and even destroy a number of structures. There are a variety of factors that can cause unstable soil. Read more...

Unstable soil can be defined as soil that will not stay in place on its own, and therefore requires extra support. It should be noted that unstable soil can threaten the stability, security, and safety of infrastructure and can damage, degrade, and even destroy a number of structures, such as buildings, bridges, and roads.

Let's look at the four main causes of unstable soil...

Erosion

Erosion refers to processes in which external elements (wind, water, etc.) remove soil or rock from a certain location and transport it to another location. There are a variety of different erosion types, including river and gull erosion, wind erosion, and erosion attributed to human activity. Erosion ultimately destabilizes soil and can lead to landslides and sinkholes.

Poor Compaction

One of the most common causes of unstable soil is poor compaction. In some cases, certain types of soil are simply very loose and subsequently not compact. The cause of this is typically an imbalance of mineral pieces, organic matter, air, and water. For example, a clay soil with very high moisture content will inevitably become instable, as it will be incredibly difficult to compact. Similarly, soils with high sand content will be difficult to compact.

Freeze/Thaw

Processes of freezing and thawing essentially accelerate erosion processes. Cold weather freezes moisture trapped in tiny cracks. When this water freezes, it expands, subsequently pushing on the rocks and breaking them into smaller pieces. As processes of freezing and thawing continue, rock and sediment are continually broken down.

Decomposition

When soils contain a high concentration of organic materials, such as topsoil and plant matter, it will decompose, subsequently causing it to become unstable. This is because organic materials rapidly change form and mass as they decompose in soil. In fact, up to 90 percent of organic material will disappear over the course of the decomposition process.

Fortunately, stability can be restored to soil with ultra-low viscosity polyurethane resins. Foaming and permeation polyurethanes can mitigate the damage done by processes of erosion, decomposition, and freezing and thawing, as well as help to rectify compaction problems. When it comes to unstable soil, you can’t afford to take a risk. Stable soil is crucial to maintaining secure structures.

Want in-depth info on soil stabilization procedures and products?

Download an Info-Packed Soil Stabilization Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Stabilize Soil

Soil Grouting - Polyurethane vs. Water

Posted by Stephen C. Barton on Aug 27, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Not all two-component polyurethane lifting and stabilizing foams are specifically designed for wet environments. Find out why...

Not all two-component polyurethane lifting and stabilizing foams are specifically designed for wet environments. Find out why...

Not all two-component polyurethane lifting and stabilizing foams are specifically designed for wet environments.  In most situations when you are injecting polyurethane foam into the ground, there is a high probability that the environment is going to be wet.  You need to be confident that the foam will react and retain the desired properties in these wet environments.  If the foam you are using is not specifically designed for wet environments, then you may be cheating yourself and your customer out of the best possible results.

All polyurethane foams are going to undergo a density change when introduced to water.  This is precisely because the isocyanate (A component) in polyurethane reacts faster with water than it reacts with the polyol (B component).  Some will undergo drastic changes and some minor changes.  It is important to feel confident that the foam you are using will only undergo minor changes.  The density of the foam is very important because density correlates to foam strength, and you are relying on that strength to support the structure you are lifting or the soil you are stabilizing.

All Alchemy-Spetec products are formulated to achieve minimum density changes when introduced to wet soil.

Want in-depth info on slab lifting procedures and products?

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Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs, Stabilize Soil

How to Prevent Polyurethane from Staining Concrete

Posted by Stephen C. Barton on Aug 24, 2018 10:00:00 AM

AP Flush 125 is a concentrated product that you can mix with 3-5 parts water. It can be sprayed onto concrete, wood, metal, or plastic and creates a barrier layer that prevents polyurethane foam from sticking to and staining the surface. Read more...

AP Flush 125 is a concentrated product that you can mix with 3-5 parts water. It can be sprayed onto concrete, wood, metal, or plastic and creates a barrier layer that prevents polyurethane foam from sticking to and staining the surface. Read more...Over my many years of consulting with customers on jobs, I have pumped, shot, spilled, splashed, sprayed, poured and injected polyurethane foam into every imaginable type of concrete structure known to man. Most of it has ended up where it was supposed to go. But some of it did not.

Some of it ended up on my clothes, my skin, and my hair. That never bothered me (well, maybe the resin on that brand new button down shirt bothered me a little). What is really frustrating is when it stains the concrete you are trying to fix. Your job is to repair something for your customer, and if you are not careful, you can make it look worse than before.

A few years ago I asked our chemist to develop a water based solvent for cleaning out two component impingement style injection guns (such as our MixMaster Pro gun). I wanted the product to be water based so that it could be dispensed directly into the environment with no negative effects. I also needed it to be thick enough to push reacting foam out of the gun.

After I saw what he came up with, I realized it could probably be used as a barrier to prevent polyurethane from staining concrete. After a little testing and tweaking, I realized it would work.

AP Flush 125 is a concentrated product that you can mix with 3-5 parts water. It can be sprayed onto concrete, wood, metal, or plastic and creates a barrier layer that prevents polyurethane foam from sticking to and staining the surface. You can brush it on or spray it on with a pump up garden sprayer.

Our AP Lift customers spray it right out of the MixMaster Pro gun onto concrete surfaces as they are moving from injection point to injection point. They also saturate cracks and joints that foam may come out of. This has the dual protection of keeping stains off the concrete and helps reduce binding of the concrete that can impede the lifting process.

On hot, sunny days you may have to apply it again if the water evaporates out of the system, but overall it really works wonders. We have used it on lifting jobs, soil stabilization jobs, and leak seal jobs. Now the spray foam insulation contractors are starting to use it to protect surfaces adjacent to their work areas.

Next time you are using polyurethane foam on or near a surface you don’t want your foam to stick to or stain, try a pail of AP Flush 125. One pail of concentrate can give you up to 25 gallons of protection.

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Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs, Seal Leaks, Stabilize Soil