Alchemy-Spetec Blog

Andy Powell

Recent Posts

Telltale Signs Your Seawall May Need Repairs

Posted by Andy Powell on Jun 26, 2019 3:22:15 PM

Telltale Signs Your Seawall May Need Repairs

Telltale Signs Your Seawall May Need RepairsSeawalls embody the very image of long-lasting endurance and stability. Without proper maintenance and repair, however, the reality can be a bit different.  If your seawall is showing any of the signs listed below, you may want to look into repair options.

Here some telltale signs your seawall may need repairs...

  • Clogged Weep Holes
    Weep holes are small openings in concrete structures that allow water from behind the seawall to drain through it.  If these holes get clogged with debris, water pressure can build up and cause the wall to eventually crack and fail (or cause the water to find ways around the wall).
  • Visible Rust Colored Cracks/Stains
    Rebar that has been exposed to water will stain the surrounding area. This causes the rebar to expand, further introducing cracks into the seawall and risking failure.

  • Sinkholes or Settling Concrete Near the Seawall
    Sinkholes or settling concrete appear due to loss of soil. This is essentially a feature of a compromised seawall in that water is seeping through or underneath the seawall, weakening the structure and contributing to soil erosion.

  • Sand or Soil Deposits on the Water Side of the Seawall
    These deposits will typically show up at the joints and are a sign that you are losing soil from behind the seawall.

Solution - Polyurethane Seawall Repair

I summed it up in this previous blog post An In-Depth Look at Polyurethane Seawall Repair...

Polyurethane installation equipment and procedures allow for a non-invasive, clean approach to repair that often allows the property owner to continue use during the process. In all cases, the property owner can resume activity on and around the structure within hours after a repair. As explained in our blog post Alchemy-Spetec's NSF Certification Spells Environmental Protection, most of our products have been rigorously tested not only for contact with typical recreational and commercial bodies of water, but even for contact with drinking water. So there is NO doubt about the environmentally friendly advantages of Alchemy-Spetec seawall repair materialsRead more...

Want more info on Alchemy-Spetec seawall repair products and applications?

Download an Info-Packed Seawall Repair Brochure!

Topics: Repair Seawalls, All Posts

Alchemy-Spetec Geotech Resources

Posted by Andy Powell on May 17, 2019 3:25:43 PM

Alchemy-Spetec Geotech Resources

Alchemy-Spetec Geotech ResourcesSinking slabs and soil issues can cause both safety and property value problems. Alchemy-Spetec offers solutions for unlevel concrete and unstable soil.

Concrete Leveling

A structure is only as good as the foundation it’s built on. And regardless of how well-constructed a structure may be, most foundations settle. That’s just a fact of life. Erosion, shifting soil, compaction, and many other environmental conditions tend to cause settling. Sometimes structures settle gradually, and in other cases they’re swallowed up in minutes. These situations create problems for property owners and opportunities for the contractors who know how to fix them.

Alchemy-Spetec manufactures high-strength polyurethane lifting foams for slab jacking. Among the most dependable products for jacking and leveling concrete slabs, these two-component, high-strength, hydro-insensitive structural foams serve as an extremely effective solution for contractors.

Deep Lift Structure Leveling

Poor compaction, water erosion, broken pipes, and organic material in the soil can all lead to
settling of a foundation or a roadway. Traditional slab lifting can bring concrete and structures
back into place but it doesn’t necessarily address the underlying issue or guarantee a long
term fix. Other methods of addressing deep soil issues require heavy equipment, extended
down time, and collateral property damage. These situations create problems for property
owners as well as opportunities for the elite contractors that know how to fix them.

Alchemy-Spetec offers a unique combination of high-strength polyurethane structural lifting foams along with the equipment and training needed to address deep soil issues. Now you can achieve soil densification and lifting on large projects with the smallest footprint and least amount of heavy equipment required.  The Deep Lift™ process is powerful, painless, and rapid. Deep Lift™ gets to the root of the problems in the soil, it brings the structure back to level, and accomplishes this with minimal imposition or downtime to the property owner.

Soil Stabilization

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. There are a variety of factors that can cause unstable
soil including erosion, poor compaction, freeze/thaw cycles and decomposition.

Soil can be stabilized high strength polyurethane stabilization foams.  Once the bearing capacity of the
soil has been increased with this process, then the structure can be lifted if necessary.

Want more geotech resources?

Download an Info-Packed Slab Lift Brochure!

Download an Info-Packed Deep Lift Brochure!

Download an Info-Packed Soil Stabilization Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs, Stabilize Soil, Deep Lift

Working on Dams and Locks with Spetec Leak Seal Resins

Posted by Andy Powell on May 2, 2019 3:40:30 PM

Working on Dams and Locks with Spetec Leak Seal Resins

Working on Dams and Locks with Spetec Leak Seal ResinsIn a structure that holds water, you need something flexible to inject into cracks or joints. These types of structures are usually above ground and exposed to changing temperatures. As concrete heats up during the day it expands; joints and cracks squeeze together. As it cools, the concrete shrinks and joints and cracks open up. Thus, you need an injection foam that has flexibility to handle the movement.  You also need to do the injection work in the early hours of the day. Some contractors have injected cracks in the afternoon; stopping leaks, only to find them leaking again in the morning. 

For these scenarios, we recommend the Spetec PUR GT500 or Spetec PUR F400.  The GT500 is hydrophilic and absorbs some water during the reaction. In a tight crack or joint it's great and has minimal shrinkage if it dries out.  It has lower expansion, maybe 4-6x by volume, so for wide joints it may take more product and will likely require oakum to retain the resin in the joint. It does not have an adjustable set time. 

The F400 is a flexible hydrophobic. It combines higher expansion properties with flexibility. It also has a catalyst which allows you to adjust the set time. The F400 is excellent for crack injection, joint injection (especially larger joints), and infrastructure injection as well.  It does not shrink because it's hydrophobic and unaffected if no moisture is present. 

Now let’s talk a little about hydrostatic pressure. Most injection work is done less than 40' below the water level and head pressure is less than 20 psi. Considering we recommend injecting with pumps capable of 3000+ psi, getting the product in the crack is not the problem. The challenge is keeping the polyurethane in the crack or joint long enough for it to set up. That's where experience comes into play. The contractor must know how to adjust the set time, how to drill the injection holes properly, how to use oakum, and how long to inject on a single packer/port.   

We have not seen failures on dams or locks where pressure blew out the polyurethane. Dams across the globe have been injected this way. Where we do see failures (continued leaks, not blowouts) is when the wrong material is selected, or the injections are done during the hotter hours of the day. In fact, some water authorities only inject during the cold months of the year.

Want more info on Alchemy-Spetec leak seal products?

Download an Info-Packed Leak Seal Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks

Essential Tips for Starting a Polyurethane Slab Lifting Business

Posted by Andy Powell on Apr 24, 2019 2:13:18 PM

Essential Tips for Starting a Polyurethane Slab Lifting Business

Pursuing the dream of starting your own polyurethane slab lifting business is a big leap. But it's not nearly so intimidating when you're armed with the right information. In this post I'll cover available slab lifting markets, marketing strategies for your lifting business, and estimating materials for a job.

Essential Tips for Starting a Polyurethane Slab Lifting Business

Polyurethane Slab Lifting Markets

Residential Slab Jacking

The residential market offers tremendous opportunities for the slab lifting contractor. Obviously there are driveways, foundations, patios, pools, and porches. Don’t think residential only includes houses. There are countless opportunities in the apartment and condo sectors as well.

Commercial-Industrial Slab Jacking

Because scenarios for slab lifting are infinite in the non-residential category, we list commercial and industrial together. Concrete parking lots, showroom floors, industrial park walkways and an endless supply of huge warehouse floors are just the tip of the iceberg in this potentially lucrative market.

Slab Jacking for the Transportation Sector

Last but not least, there's the transportation sector. The world is covered with miles and miles of concrete roads, highways, bridge approach slabs, and railroad support slabs.  A large percentage of them have settled in one spot or another (and the rest are vulnerable to future settling). Read more in the post Identifying Common Markets for Slab Jacking with Polyurethane.

There will NEVER be enough slab lifting contractors out there to address ALL of these current and future slab lifting needs.  Your fortune awaits...(IF you know what you’re doing).

Marketing Your Slab Lifting Business

Maintaining A Well Designed, Search Engine Optimized Website

Professional design, photography and content will help you stay competitive and either depict you as a confident, articulate leader in your field or just the opposite (if it's not well designed). It is also imperative to make sure that your website is Search Engine Optimized. Designing a search friendly site for your industry niche and market location will make a world of difference in the amount of leads you capture via your online presence.

Attracting Leads with a Blog

Posting blog articles regularly allows you to cast a wide net with lots of SEO friendly post pages. It's also a great way to share your knowledge and build trust in the market as an industry expert. If you offer more value (such as an info-packed brochure) in exchange for contact info, you can increase your leads dramatically. Blogs are a gift that keeps on giving, because the posts stay up and attract new leads forever. Read all about this extremely effective marketing technique in our blog post How to Promote Your Contracting Business with a Blog.

Targeted Local Advertisements

Setting up a Google Ads account to target your market and placing ads in local publications are effective ways of getting the word out in your local market. If you’re aware of a specific problem occurring in your area, such as sinkholes, you can even highlight that issue in your advertising. Read more marketing tips in the post Marketing Your Slab Lifting Business.

Advertising on Contractor Referral Sites

Because you’re putting yourself in front of customers who are actively seeking your services, you can increase your marketing ROI compared to other methods such as cold calling, print advertising, etc. In addition, referred customers are typically less price sensitive than cold call prospects. Referral sites are also a great way to build your reputation by accumulating positive reviews from customers. Read more about this approach in our blog post How to Market Your Contracting Business with Referral Sites.

Exhibiting at Home Shows

Home shows are a great place to meet potential customers and even affiliate partners. Contractors tell us over and over again that home shows are a GREAT source for leads. Take a look at our blog post on marketing at home shows

Presenting at Professional Associations

Giving presentations at local chapters of professional associations is a great way to network, meet potential customers and lead sources. Look into organizations serving property maintenance professionals, building managers, property owners, real estate professionals, etc. Establish yourself as a local expert and people will come to you when they have slab settlement problems. 

Estimating Materials for Jobs

Material Calculation

Through a combination of easy calculations, product information, and some site considerations, you should be able to estimate your slab lifting materials without too much trouble. Fortunately, Alchemy-Spetec has a simple estimating app that allows you to calculate the lifting material you'll need in a few easy steps. Read the blog post on our estimating app for more info.

Specific Considerations

Beyond the geometry required to estimate lifting the slab, you must take into account some job specific considerations. This is where it becomes critical to qualify the volume of material included in your proposal. And just as important, this is where you need to make sure you have included enough so you get the job done right and don’t have to go back to the customer asking for more money. Sometimes that’s unavoidable if you encounter surprises; but by keeping a few considerations in mind this can often be avoided. For help on specific considerations, contact your tech support rep at 404-618-0438 today.

Include Contingency Material

Typically for a lifting job without other considerations besides the lifting volume, we recommend adding an additional 10- 15% onto your material estimate to cover yourself. Just make sure you do a thorough evaluation of the conditions and possibilities so you don’t underestimate the job and have to go back to the property owner with your hand out. Read more in the post Estimating Materials for Slab Jacking.

Want more information on slab lifting?

 Download an Info-Packed Slab Lift Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs, Business Tips

How NOT to Repair a Tripping Hazard (Come On Man!)

Posted by Andy Powell on Apr 19, 2019 5:12:36 PM

How NOT to Repair a Tripping Hazard (Come On Man!)

One of my favorite segments on TV is when the sports analysts stand around and watch film of the previous week’s boneheaded plays.  These are the “C’mon man” awards.  See a guy fumbling or running the wrong way and these analysts are like, “Come on man, what are you thinking!”  It’s a really funny segment.

As someone in the concrete lifting industry, it’s impossible not to miss obvious tripping hazards and the methods different municipalities and businesses use to address them.  I have frustrated contractors talk to me regularly, letting me know about this job or that job where they didn’t get the sale and some other method was used (or NO method was used) to deal with the problem.  So in honor of those methods, here are a few of my How NOT to Repair a Tripping Hazard “Come on Man!” Awards.  Names of the perpetrators will be withheld cause I'm a nice guy.

1. Look at these before and after pictures...

How NOT to Repair a Tripping Hazard 1.jpegHow NOT to Repair a Tripping Hazard 2.jpeg

A certain city had their tripping hazard painted with orange spray paint. Our slab lifting contractor offered to do this for free as a demo for the city.  What did they do?  They sent a crew of four guys out and an asphalt truck and slapped a makeshift asphalt ramp together to bridge the slabs.  This is certainly not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant and it’s also ugly as hell. Most importantly - it will NOT last.  COME ON MAN!

2. Look below how tripping hazards were addressed at a rest area...

How NOT to Repair a Tripping Hazard 3.jpgHow NOT to Repair a Tripping Hazard 4.jpg

These slab transitions were ground down to remove the tripping hazards.  At least they didn’t just slap some asphalt on it.  Grinding the concrete exposes the aggregates, and it leaves ugly patterns that will stay visible for years.  Not to mention the fact that it doesn't address the underlying sinking problem, so a tripping hazard is likely to appear again.  Last time I drove by there the rest area was closed.  COME ON MAN!  They should have had those slabs adjusted with polyurethane technology.

3. Some places just opt for the paint job...

How NOT to Repair a Tripping Hazard 5.jpg

Maybe if they paint this tripping hazard yellow, people will see it and not trip and fall down.  How well does that work at night (or if someone is distracted while walking)?  This was on a hotel property and there is certainly pedestrian traffic in the evenings along these walkways (not to mention millennials walking around staring at their phones).  COME ON MAN!  Do they realize that by painting the tripping hazard they are proving prior knowledge of an the issue they didn’t do anything about?  Prior knowledge is a key component in tripping hazard lawsuits.

4. Then of course, there are property owners that don’t do anything at all...

How NOT to Repair a Tripping Hazard 6.jpg


That’s it for this special edition awards blog. And remember, if you’re a property owner faced with a tripping hazard…COME ON MAN!  Repair it correctly.  Don’t be that guy!

Want in-depth info on leveling sunken slabs?

Download an Info-Packed Slab Lift Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs

Advantages of AP Lift 430 and AP Lift 475

Posted by Andy Powell on Apr 17, 2019 2:37:31 PM

Advantages of AP Lift 430 and AP Lift 475

Advantages of AP Lift 430 and AP Lift 475Everyone claims their lifting foam is "the best" on the market (unless they're claiming theirs is the cheapest - which is a red flag to look into the quality ASAP).  As a quality leader in the industry, we provide more than vague statements and marketing slogans on this issue.

Here's a detailed list of the advantages you'll enjoy with Alchemy-Spetec's AP Lift 430 and AP Lift 475 lifting foams:

No Recycled Materials

The products are made of virgin raw materials only. They are consistent and clean, with no particulates floating around.

Water Blown Formula

Your drum set of material will be consistent from top to bottom. Whether you pump it all in one day or all in one month. No mixing will be required.

Lower Exotherm

You'll be able to fill voids, stabilize soil and lift slabs faster.  In addition, unlike some other foams out there, these foams have no history of smoke or charring.

Cured Foam is Safe for Contact with Drinking Water

These foams are certified To NSF 61-5.  That means that the cured foam is safe for contact with potable water.  Most of the time your foam won't ever come into contact with drinking water, but this certification assures your customers that once the foam cures it will not pose any kind of environmental or health hazard.

Consistent Quality

You won't have to worry about your foam setting up one way this month and another way next month.  The NSF certification and the ISO 9001 certification require the exact same formula for every single drum set.  We have both certifications.

DOT Grade Polyurethane Foam

DOT grade foams cure faster, work in wet conditions, and are traffic ready in 45 minutes.  Use less material and get less call-backs with foams that meet the standards for Department of Transportation work.  

Want more information on Alchemy-Spetec products and procedures?

Download an Info-Packed Slab Lift Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs, NSF Certification, Stabilize Soil

Polyurethane Vs. Cement Grout in a Nutshell

Posted by Andy Powell on Apr 15, 2019 2:57:17 PM

Polyurethane Vs. Cement Grout in a Nutshell

Polyurethane Vs. Cement Grout in a NutshellThe Quick Answer

One question we get from both property owners and potential new slab lifters is about the difference between polyurethane vs. cement grout. The quick answer is that our AP Lift Foam weighs less, has a quicker set time, doesn't shrink, requires less equipment, and can be installed in any climate.

The table included in this post provides further specifics for each claim.

More Details

If you want even more details on this subject, check out one of my earlier blog posts Polyurethane vs. Cement for Slab Jacking. In that article, I delve a little deeper into the importance of using a lightweight yet strong material, why polyurethane creates less mess than concrete grout, and the importance of using a material with a quicker set time (or cure time) than cement grout.

Want in-depth info on the slab lifting process?

Download an Info-Packed Slab Lift Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs

Lifting Foam Density and Expansion

Posted by Andy Powell on Apr 12, 2019 1:16:58 PM
Lifting Foam Density and Expansion
Lifting Foam Density and ExpansionToday I'd like to discuss a little "foam 101" info that addresses some commonly asked questions I get from slab lifting customers:

Density and Expansion

The most common slab lifting foams we sell are AP Lift 430, AP Lift 440, and AP Lift 475. Each foam has a different density and load-bearing capacity. They also have different expansion properties. The higher the density of foam, the lower the amount of expansion (yield). All of the properties on the datasheets are based on lab conditions and free rise foam compression and density testing.  Free rise means foam that is allowed to expand in an unconfined state. When foam expands in a confined space, the densities and strengths increase rapidly.

Technical Data for Each AP Lift Foam

AP Lift 430 
Expansion = 24x
Yield = 3.2 cubic ft / gallon
Density = 3 lb per cubic ft
Bearing capacity = 7000 psf
Applications: Void fill, Residential Slabs, Light Commercial, some DOT
AP Lift 440 
Expansion = 17.5x
Yield = 2.4 cubic ft / gallon
Density = 4 lb per cubic ft
Bearing capacity = 11000 psf
Applications: Commercial / Industrial Slabs, Bridge Approaches, DOT
AP Lift 475 
Expansion = 14-15x
Yield = 2.0 cubic ft / gallon
Density = 4.75 lb per cubic ft
Bearing capacity = 14000 psf
Applications: Industrial, Airport, Rail, DOT, Sinkhole Remediation, Infrastructure Sealing

Want more info on Alchemy-Spetec slab lifting products & services?

Download an Info-Packed Slab Lift Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs

Stabilizing Slabs to Prevent Sinking Before It Starts

Posted by Andy Powell on Apr 1, 2019 2:05:52 PM

Stabilizing Slabs to Prevent Sinking Before It Starts

Stabilizing Slabs to Prevent Sinking Before It StartsSlab stabilization and structural void filling can actually be even more valuable than slab lifting. Why wait for a slab to sink, settle, or break, when it can be stopped. Preventative slab stabilization and underslab recompaction (I'm making up words now) is a great way to protect the investment that is the foundation of any home or business.

A good contractor should know how to: spot the signs indicating a possible problem, verify whether a problem exists or not, and repair an unsupported slab that’s in danger of sinking.

How to Spot a Slab That May Be in Danger of Sinking

The most obvious slabs at risk are the ones where a void can be seen from the side. In these instances, the soil on the side has washed away along with significant soil underneath. (See the photo included with this blog post for an example.) Other situations to look out for are slabs on a hill or at the bottom of a hill. Concrete in these locations is likely to have rain water washing under it and eroding the soil. Slabs on level ground aren’t immune from this problem either. Check for gutter downspouts placed very close by, or adjacent structures with no gutter system at all. If a rain water management system wasn’t set up to direct water AWAY from the slab, there may be an issue. Another red flag would be cracks in the concrete.

How to Be SURE a Slab’s in Danger of Sinking

There are many ways to check for voids underneath a slab. Some people tap the slab with a metal tool, or even a golf club. (Others use golf balls, which they bounce off the slab). Whatever the tool, the point is to listen for a hollow ring. This tactic may take some practice at first, but many people use it. Another approach is to drill a small hole, and then check the soil underneath with a soil probe or a penetrometer. I find that the 4’ long fiberglass driveway markers make a nice probe.  Endoscope cameras are small enough to stick down through the drill hole and have a look around. On larger jobs, some have arranged for the use of ground penetrating radar.

How to Stabilize a Level Slab in Danger of Sinking

On a void fill/stabilization job, the contractor should set up an even grid pattern across the entire slab. This approach allows for the even distribution of material, as needed. Unlike a lifting job, there’s no need to emphasize one side of the slab versus the other. Instead, the contractor injects the appropriate amount of resin into each hole of the even grid pattern. It’s important to monitor every injection with a zip level or dial indicator and stop at the first sign of any movement. If ANY slight movement happens it’s time to move on to the next hole. These tools allow for the detection of movement as small as 100th of inch, which isn’t a visible lift to the naked eye. For more on stabilizing slabs, see the blog post Slab Void Fill with Polyurethane Foam.

Wrap Up

No property owner should assume that their slab is safe just because it isn’t sinking yet. It’s better to know the danger signs and call a qualified professional to check it out. In addition, contactors should always keep an eye out for concrete in vulnerable situations. Remember: just because it’s level doesn’t mean it’s safe.

Want more in-depth info about soil stabilization?

Download an Info-Packed Soil Stabilization Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Stabilize Soil

Repair Unlevel Warehouse Slabs with AP Lift 475

Posted by Andy Powell on Mar 29, 2019 4:20:19 PM

Repair- banner

Voids beneath warehouse floors can be filled with AP Lift 475 foam. This product is great for slabs that rock and warehouse floors that have begun to sink. The video below shows an example of the product in action. Inside this warehouse, the floors have begun to rock and are unleveled - which can speed up wear and tear on valuable equipment. With this powerful polymer and its painless application procedures, unlevel slabs can be repaired at a rapid pace. Take a look for yourself!


Want in-depth info on how to repair unlevel warehouse slabs? 

Download an Info-Packed Warehouse & Industrial Slab Repair Brochure! 

Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs, Stabilize Soil