Alchemy-Spetec Blog

Charlie Lerman

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Repairing Dams with Polyurethane

Posted by Charlie Lerman on Nov 14, 2019 11:06:41 AM

Repairing Dams with Polyurethane

Repairing Dams with PolyurethaneDams Across the U.S. in Dire Need of Repair

On a cold morning last March, Kenny Angel got a frantic knock on his door. Two workers from a utility company in northern Nebraska had come with a stark warning: Get out of your house.

Just a little over a quarter-mile upstream, the 92-year-old Spencer Dam was straining to contain the swollen, ice-covered Niobrara River after an unusually intense snow and rainstorm. The workers had tried but failed to force open the dam's frozen wooden spillway gates. So, fearing the worst, they fled in their truck, stopping to warn Angel before driving away without him.

Minutes later, the dam came crashing down, unleashing a wave of water carrying ice chunks the size of cars. Angel's home was wiped away; his body was never found.

"He had about a 5-minute notice, with no prior warning the day before," Scott Angel, one of Kenny's brothers, said.

State inspectors had given the dam a "fair" rating less than a year earlier. Until it failed, it looked little different from thousands of others across the U.S. — and that could portend a problem.

A more than two-year investigation by The Associated Press has found scores of dams nationwide in even worse condition, and in equally dangerous locations. They loom over homes, businesses, highways or entire communities that could face life-threatening floods if the dams don't hold.

Excerpted from AP: At least 1,680 dams across the US pose potential risk
By David A. Lieb, Michael Casey And Michelle Minkoff

Specialty Grouting of Dams with Polyurethane

The recently released news story excerpted above is bringing major attention to the widespread problem of deteriorating dam infrastructure. In most cases, cementitious grout is used to repair dams at risk. But there are certain types of geologies that cementitious grout cannot penetrate or gets washed out of. This is where specialty grouting with polyurethane (and microfine cement) comes in. The following products can be used alongside cementitious grout for optimal results:

Spetec PUR F400
This is a is a solvent and phthalate free, water reactive, hydrophobic, closed cell, low viscosity, shrink-free, flexible, one-component polyurethane injection resin.  It can be used to seal fine cracks in dams that cementitious grout cannot reach.

Spetec AG200
This is a is a three-component, water-swelling hydrogel based on acrylic that hardens into an elastic product.  It can be used to stablize loose soil around dams.

AP Microfine 10
This is a microfine cement that penetrates very small openings such as soil pores and microscopic rock fissures in order to improve strength and reduce permeability.  It can be used in conjunction with Spetec AG200 to add strength to soil stabilization repairs around dams.

While cemententious grouting is the most common grouting method used to stop water flows and strengthen soils for dams, specialty grouting with polyurethane and/or microfine cements can be used to supplement or even replace standard centmentious grouting in areas it has troubles in.

Want more info on Alchemy-Spetec products?

Download the Info-Packed Leak Seal Product Catalog!

Download the Info-Packed Geotech Product Catalog!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks, Stabilize Soil

Seawall Repair on Waterfront Properties

Posted by Charlie Lerman on Oct 8, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Seawall Repair on Waterfront Properties

Seawall Repair on Waterfront PropertiesSigns of Seawall Distress

Do you own or manage waterfront property?  If so, you may have issues with your seawalls.  Check for the following signs of distress:

  • Settled soil near the wall (a sign of water leaking through the wall and eroding the soil on the land side).
  • Soil deposits near the seams on the water side of the wall (a sign of water leaks bringing soil through the seams into the lake).
  • Visible rust colored cracks or stains in the wall (a sign of water leaking through cracks in the wall and rusting the rebar inside).

Polyurethane Seawall Repair

High-strength polyurethane foam can be injected through pipes directly into voids and loose soil around your distressed seawall. Concrete repair contractors use semi-rigid hydrophobic material that reacts with moisture in the ground and expands to fill voids while also permeating the soil to form a solid, strong, watertight mass.

Since this polyurethane is impermeable to water once in place, the likelihood of future erosion is vastly diminished versus refilling the void with soil or other material.  Originally developed over 30 years ago, and continuously improved since, this technology has one of the longest histories of success in the field.  

Efficient seawall repair with this material prevents the need for remediation processes that can be harmful to the environment, such as a complete wall replacement or the excavating of all loose soil.  If the contractor is using the appropriate Alchemy-Spetec products, they will be Phthalate free AND approved for contact with drinking water once cured in place.  So you don't have to worry any long-term averse environmental impact.

Alchemy-Spetec Can Help You Find a Seawall Repair Contractor

Would you like assistance finding a seawall repair contractor in your area?  Professionals everywhere rely on Alchemy-Spetec's industry leading products for reliable and lasting results.  We can very likely put you in touch with an Alchemy-Spetec approved installer nearby.  Call us at 404-618-0438 or fill consultation request form linked below.

Want to schedule a consultation for assistance finding a contractor?

Sign Up for a Consultation Now!

Topics: Repair Seawalls, All Posts

Polyurethane Leak Sealing Explained

Posted by Charlie Lerman on Jul 29, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Polyurethane Leak Sealing Explained

Leaking concrete can be detrimental to safety and property values.  Pressure injection forces polyurethane resin into leaking cracks, joints, voids, and other defects.  After injection is complete, the polyurethane resin rapidly reacts with water to form a flexible, watertight seal.  Leaks in concrete structures can be permanently repaired with water-activated polyurethane and a few assorted leak seal accessories.

From hairline concrete cracks to gushing leaks, virtually any defect can be sealed with the Alchemy-Spetec series of leak seal resins and products.

Watch this animation for a detailed explanation of the polyurethane leak sealing process...

 Want more information on Alchemy-Spetec leak seal products?

Download the Info-Packed Leak Seal Product Catalog!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks, Waterstop

Jump Start Your Leak Seal Business with Alchemy-Spetec's Fall 2019 Training

Posted by Charlie Lerman on Jul 26, 2019 1:44:32 PM

Jump Start Your New Concrete Leveling Business with Alchemy-Spetecs Fall 2019 Training

Jump Start Your New Concrete Leveling Business with Alchemy-Spetecs Fall 2019 TrainingJump start your leak seal business at Alchemy-Spetec's Fall 2019 Training!  As stated in our blog post on Leak Seal Curriculum for 2019 Fall Training...

Get ready for a thorough education in polyurethane leak seal products and applications on Wednesday, October 9th (October 10th is geotech day), 2019 at Alchemy-Spetec HQ in Tucker, GA. You’ll get hands-on training from a technical staff with decades of on-the-job experience. Registration includes both days, but we’ll take a close look at the leak seal curriculum in today’s blog post…

The schedule on Wednesday, October 9th includes presentations on the Alchemy-Spetec leak seal product line, crack injection, curtain grouting, permeation grouting, pumps & packers, leak seal accessories and municipal applications. There will also be live injection demos, product mixing demos, and open discussions for sharing job related tips and solutions from the field.

In addition, you'll get an overview of geotech (concrete leveling & soil stabilization) products and procedures!  Here's a complete schedule for both days...

Wednesday Oct. 9th - Leak Seal

  • Leak Seal Product Line Overview
  • Curtain Grouting
  • Permeation Grouting
  • Leak-Seal Product Mixing
  • Pump & Packer Overviews
  • Leak-Seal Accessories
  • Municipal Applications
  • Live Injection Demos
  • Open Discussions

Thursday Oct. 10th - Geotech

  • Geotech Product Line Overview
  • Soil Stabilization
  • Geotech Product Mixing
  • Rig & Mobile System Overviews
  • Geotechnical Accessories
  • Slab Lifting Live Demo
  • Deep Lift™ Overview
  • Soil Testing with the
  • GPR & Penetrometer
  • Maintenance Discussions
  • Pricing / Estimating / Cost Savings
  • Open Discussions
Click Here to Register NOW!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks, Business Tips

Leak Seal Curriculum for 2019 Fall Training

Posted by Charlie Lerman on Jul 12, 2019 3:38:06 PM

Leak Seal Curriculum for 2019 Fall Training

Leak Seal Curriculum for 2019 Fall Training

Get ready for a thorough education in polyurethane leak seal products and applications on Wednesday, October 9th (October 10th is geotech day), 2019 at Alchemy-Spetec HQ in Tucker, GA. You’ll get hands-on training from a technical staff with decades of on-the-job experience. Registration includes both days, but we’ll take a close look at the leak seal curriculum in today’s blog post…

The schedule on Wednesday, October 9th includes presentations on the Alchemy-Spetec leak seal product line, crack injection, curtain grouting, permeation grouting, pumps & packers, leak seal accessories and municipal applications. There will also be live injection demos, product mixing demos, and open discussions for sharing job related tips and solutions from the field.

Your instructors have years of experience providing technical support for both contractors and distributors across the country. You can look forward to presentations, demos and/or discussions lead by Stephen C. Barton (President/CEO), Jim Spiegel (VP Sales & Business Development), Andy Powell (Southeastern Regional Manager), Anthony Sandone (Eastern Regional Manager), and Charlie Lerman (Western Regional Manager). 

Participants will receive a Samsung tablet loaded with leak seal training material.

Sign up while there's still space available...

Click Here to Register NOW!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks, Business Tips

Leak Mitigation of Dynamic Cracks in Concrete

Posted by Charlie Lerman on Jul 10, 2019 11:12:23 AM

 Leak Mitigation of Dynamic Cracks in Concrete

 Leak Mitigation of Dynamic Cracks in Concrete

Concrete will crack – that is a fact. When cracks appear, they are dynamic or static, and structural or non-structural. If the crack is static, non-structural, and does not leak, epoxies are great to restore design strength. However, since concrete constantly shrinks, expands, and often leaks, the use of a flexible polyurethane resin to permanently seal active leaks is the optimum choice to create a leak-free environment.

Water leaking through concrete is as old as concrete itself. Any leaking structure is problematic. These issues range from reduced lifespan to liability and lawsuits. This paper will discuss the mitigation of leaking structures to facilitate its coating. Often, these cracks are dynamic in nature. Static or structural repair of dynamic cracks will fail when the concrete needs to “move” again. Flexible polyurethane grouts can be used to mitigate water intrusion. This will extend the life of the structure and is a crucial step in surface preparation for most coatings.

Why Concrete Cracks

Concrete will crack - that is a fact. But to treat the crack, you need to understand the nature of cracking. There are four categories of cracks: static, dynamic, structural and non-structural.  A crack normally falls into two of the four categories. Just as the names imply, a static crack is non-moving, and a dynamic crack moves. Structural cracks place the integrity of the structure in jeopardy, while non-structural cracks can be eyesores and allow water infiltration. 

Static cracks are the result of a one-time event. This may be a thermal or shrinkage crack that formed while the concrete cured, or from a damaging event like a car hitting the concrete.  Typically, these structures do not move which is the driving force to why they are no longer used today.

Dynamic cracks expand and contract due to reoccurring force(s). The forces include, but are not limited to, freeze/thaw cycles, rapid thermal changes, loading of the concrete, and expansive soils. If the joint’s design was not adequate to deal with these forces, the concrete will often crack. “Cracking in concrete is affected by the long-term conditions to which the concrete element is subjected. In most cases, long-term exposure and long-term loading extend the magnitude of cracks, principally their width, in both reinforced and plain concrete." (ACI 22R-01 2001).

External forces are usually repetitive and cause the crack to expand and contract. These cracks are not a structural concern, but water infiltration through these cracks can be a serious problem.

Epoxy vs. Flexible Polyurethane

In spite of the best efforts of the architect, engineer and contractor, structures will sometimes move in unanticipated ways causing cracks to appear. Resin can be injected into the concrete to accomplish one of two purposes:

  1. Restore design strength
  2. Stop water leakage

If load bearing members such as walls, beams or columns are weakened, injection of high strength epoxies may be appropriate. However, more often than not, the concern with cracking is water infiltration. Epoxies are designed to be strong with little to no elongation, and chemically bond the concrete back together which is not appropriate for a dynamic, leaking crack. Epoxy will be stronger than the concrete and will cause the concrete to crack nearby. Lastly, the majority of epoxies are water intolerant and not suitable for waterproofing.

Crack / Joint Injection

Examination of the crack or joint after cleaning tells us where the crack goes and how wide it is. The surface should be cleaned mechanically. Loose debris or patches should be removed to reveal the crack. To maximize results, it is best to inject an actively leaking crack.

Injection should start from the lowest point of a vertical crack or the narrowest side of a horizontal crack. Injection holes should be drilled at a distance away from the crack that is equal to half the wall’s thickness (Example: If the wall is 8” thick, drill your hole 4” from the crack). This forms an isosceles right triangle when drilling at a 45 degree angle, and ideally intersects the crack or joint at its halfway point through the wall.

A low viscosity, flexible polyurethane grout should be injected.  Polyurethane grout will react with water to form a “custom gasket” that has three different bonds - adhesive, mechanical, and compressive. “The aim of all injection processes is to obtain uniform penetration of the resin and complete filling of the crack.” (Perkins 2003). Urethanes are very chemical resistant, but always check with the manufacturer about specific chemical resistances for a project.

Patience is important in resin injection work - slow is better. Always start injecting with the pump set at the lowest setting.  I like to say “If crack injection is not slow and painful, you are doing it wrong.”

Case Study: Vault Coating Failure

A below grade concrete precast vault was epoxy coated during a summer, the dry season, in the Pacific Northwest. The following winter coating failure was observed only at the joint.  There was also indication of water intrusion and rundown (see Photo 1).

Leak Mitigation of Dynamic Cracks in Concrete 1

Photo 1
Inspection of the vault lead to the belief the failure was caused be water intrusion through the precast joint. In 2012 the joint was injected with a flexible hydrophobic grout (Photo 2).

Leak Mitigation of Dynamic Cracks in Concrete 2

Photo 2
After a number of months of observation with no water intrusion the coating was repaired and is still in service till today with no defects.

Curtain Grouting

Curtain grouting is a method of installing a waterproofing membrane on the positive side of a below-grade structure without excavation. Curtain grouting is appropriate when there is spider web cracking or extensive cracking of the concrete.  It is not possible to address a large number of cracks in proximity with crack injection due to the number of injection holes needed.  Often, curtain grouting is easier than crack injection, but more material intensive.  Curtain grouting is an excellent fix because even if the concrete continues to crack, there will be no leaks as the water is no longer in contact with the structure.

Summary

A coating manufacturer once stated “It is estimated that 85%+ coating and lining failures are due to inadequate surface preparation.” Moisture mitigation is a large percentage of that and must be addressed.  For dynamic cracks, flexible polyurethanes are one of the best repair methods out there.

Want more information on Alchemy-Spetec leak seal products?

Download the Info-Packed Leak Seal Product Catalog!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks, Repair Cracks

Top Seawall Sealing Blog Posts of the Year

Posted by Charlie Lerman on Jul 1, 2019 4:42:38 PM

Top Seawall Sealing Blog Posts of the Year

Top Seawall Sealing Blog Posts of the Year

In this post, we’re sharing our three most popular articles on sealing seawalls over the last 365 days.  Read the opening paragraph, and then click "Read more..." for the rest of the article.

1. Stop Erosion Through Your Seawall with Polyurethane

When it comes to seawalls, there is a lot more to learn than meets the eye. A seawall is like a living, breathing thing: especially in the way that it is designed to function. But like all living breathing things, they have a finite lifespan. For many of them, it's a mere 20 – 30 years. Depending on where you live, replacing a seawall can cost anywhere from $150 to $500 per foot. That's enough for some homeowners to choose to move instead of rebuilding their seawalls. Today however, signs of seawall distress can be solved before they get too bad through the application of polyurethane grouts to seal leaks, fill voids, and stabilize the surrounding soils. Read more…

2. An In-Depth Look at Polyurethane Seawall Repair

In this article we look at an innovative way to repair seawalls instead of replacing them by stopping high flow leaks, filling the voids behind concrete structures and binding loose soil with polyurethane foam. The underlying cause of seawall deterioration is as follows: As tidal flows rise and fall, water pushes its way in through cracks, joints, and defects in seawalls. The water pushes in on incoming tides and flows out on outgoing tides. As the water flows out, it carries sand and soil with it which causes undermining of the structure, voids to form, and deteriorates the structural integrity of the seawall. This cycle is exacerbated during periods of heavy rain which continue the outflow of soil. Read more…

3. Signs a Seawall is in Need of Repair

Salt corrosion, tidal action, currents, boat wakes, storm surges and sometimes hurricanes all deliver a constant beating on the seawall. Contrary to popular opinion, many of the forces also come from the side of the wall facing the land. Did you realize that rainfall/storm events create more hydrostatic pressure than rising and falling tides? Every time it rains or the irrigation system runs, and every time the tide goes out; all of the groundwater above the waterline needs a place to vent or equalize. Massive pressure can build up if that water is trapped, making it impossible for it to drain into the sea or storm water system. That is a recipe for disaster which can easily be avoided with proper surveillance. Read more…

Want more information on sealing seawalls?

Download an Info-Packed Seawall Repair Brochure!

Topics: Repair Seawalls, All Posts

Spetec PUR HighFoamer Used in Pipe Repair

Posted by Charlie Lerman on Jun 10, 2019 5:01:38 PM

Spetec PUR HighFoamer Used in Pipe Repair

Spetec PUR HighFoamer Used in Pipe RepairI recently consulted with the city of Othello, WA on an interesting application for the leak seal product Spetec PUR HighFoamer.

A galvanized corrugated steel pipe was being used for stormwater drainage to an irrigation canal. The pipe had rusted over time, and water was coming out around the pipe causing the bank to erode. The city put a 25' stick of HDPE pipe inside the existing steel pipe. A hole was Vactor'ed out and two zerks were tapped into the to the metal pipe.

Spetec PUR HighFoamer was injected between the metal host pipe and the smaller HDPE pipe. The system was in-service and had flow during the procedure. The Spetec PUR HighFoamer filled the annular space between the two pipes and stopped the water traveling between the pipes.

As you can see in the "before" photograph below, there was a separate outflow stream to the right of the main stream due to leaking in between the pipe layers (outlined by a red oval).  The red circle below shows where the stream from the leak was hitting the side of the bank.  After Spetec PUR HighFoamer is installed between the pipe layers, the leak is sealed, that separate outflow stream is gone and the bank is no longer getting soaked.  The pipe is now functioning exactly as it should.

BEFORE-AFTER-HIGHFOAMER-PIPE3

Want more information on Alchemy-Spetec leak seal products?

Download the Info-Packed Leak Seal Product Catalog!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks

Alchemy-Spetec Leak Seal Resources

Posted by Charlie Lerman on May 10, 2019 3:53:49 PM

ALCHEMY-SPETEC LEAK SEAL  RESOURCES

ALCHEMY-SPETEC LEAK SEAL  RESOURCESLeaking concrete can be detrimental to safety and property values. The products offered by Alchemy-Spetec deliver the ultimate solution for hairline cracks, gushing leaks and other waterstop issues.

Sealing Leaks with Concrete Crack Injection

Concrete starts decaying immediately after it cures. Even brand new construction can require leak seal follow up work. Older concrete structures are even more susceptible. Leaks through concrete are generally going to be through cracks, joints, and honeycomb (areas in poured concrete of mainly course aggregate with voids in between). Depending on water volume and pressure, and the size of the joint or crack, you are going to encounter weeping leaks, steady leaks, and gushing leaks. These leaks can be sealed with crack injection resin.

Stopping Multiple Leaks with Curtain Wall Grouting

Curtain wall grouting is often required when cracks cannot be identified, when the 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 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.

Waterstop

Newly constructed floor/wall joints with no waterstop lining can be vulnerable to water infiltration. When designers and builders neglect to line the joints, water can seep into the structure and out onto the floor. Needless to say, water on the floor can be an inconvenience, it can be a safety hazard, and it can damage property. In addition, floor/wall joint leaks can cause the concrete to decay and spall over the long run. Alchemy-Spetec offers a variety of waterstop solutions.

Want more leak seal resources?

Download an Info-Packed Leak Seal Brochure!

Download an Info-Packed Curtain Wall Grouting Brochure!

Download an Info-Packed Waterstop Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks, Waterstop

Environmentally Safe Seawall Repair

Posted by Charlie Lerman on Apr 22, 2019 1:46:57 PM

Environmentally Safe Seawall Repair

Environmentally Safe Seawall Repair In honor of Earth Day, today's blog post puts the spotlight on the environmentally safe aspects of the two Alchemy-Spetec products most commonly used for seawall repair:

AP Fill 700

Spetec PUR H200

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, Alchemy-Spetec NSF Certification Spells Peace of Mind for Stakeholders...

Alchemy-Spetec is already known for providing the most powerful polymers and painless procedures contractors need to achieve the rapid results their projects demand. However, on construction projects of almost any scope and size, ensuring the safety of public drinking water is also mission-critical. That's why these Alchemy-Spetec' polyurethane resin products have received the official NSF seal of approval for contact with drinking water. This single designation ensures compliance with the Safe Water Drinking Act (SDWA) and guarantees peace of mind for in-the-field stakeholders on construction projects of almost any scope and size.

Once cured, these resins are safe for contact with drinking water - which makes them safe for the environment in general.

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

Download an Info-Packed Seawall Repair Brochure!

Topics: Repair Seawalls, All Posts, NSF Certification