Alchemy-Spetec Blog

Andy Powell

Recent Posts

AP Fill 700 Polyurethane Foam vs Cement Grout for Soil Stabilization

Posted by Andy Powell on Aug 13, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Banner - AP-Fill-700-vs-Cement-Grout-for-Soil-Stabilization

Body - AP-Fill-700-vs-Cement-Grout-for-Soil-StabilizationOne request we often receive is to explain the difference between AP Fill 700 polyurethane foam and cement grout for soil stabilization. When you're asked a question repeatedly, it's probably a sign that the answer(s) would make a good blog post. So here they are...

AP Fill 700 is a one-component, water activated, hydrophobic, low viscosity, closed cell foam. It adds no weight to the soil, has a quicker set time, resists erosion, and displaces groundwater, and expands during installation - penetrating small soil gaps in the process. AP Fill 700 can also be adjusted to work in flowing water and installed in any climate. These are all very beneficial characteristics for soil stabilization. As you'll see in the comparison table below, the characteristics of cement grout are not exactly the same.

Comparing AP Fill 700 & Cement Grout for Soil Stabilization

AP-Fill-700-vs-Cement-Grout-for-Soil-Stabilization-1

Environmentally Safe

AP Fill 700 is NSF approved for contact with potable water, ensuring compliance with the Safe Water Drinking Act (SDWA) and guaranteeing peace of mind for in-the-field stakeholders on soil stabilization projects.

Want more information on soil stabilization with polyurethane?

Download an Info-Packed Soil Stabilization Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Stabilize Soil

Introducing the Jack Attack System

Posted by Andy Powell on Jun 16, 2020 2:00:00 PM

Banner-Introducing the Jack Attack System

Body Graphic-Introducing Jack Attack SystemThe AP Jack Attack System provides leverage for positioning small to medium slabs into place while lifting or stabilizing with polyurethane. Easy for one person to operate. Triangular steel frame.

Even with the largest polyurethane rigs on the market, manipulating small slabs can be very tedious. It would be nice if all slabs settled evenly but that is rarely the case. Often slabs settle unevenly, making it nearly impossible to lift and rotate back into place with foam alone. It will lift for sure but it won’t rotate back into place.

For these small to medium slabs we recommend the Jack Attack System. This super-easy leverage system can be attached to a slab with concrete screw-in anchors. Then the integrated 8000 lb (3628.74 kg) jack can apply the leverage necessary to make the slab rotate back into place while the lifting process takes place. It is good practice to leave the slab 1/8”-1/4” (3-6mm) under-level to allow the foam to create optimal strength as it performs the final lift to level. It makes even the most troublesome sidewalk slab a piece of cake and you will use less foam as well.

Jack-Attack-2

This photo is from a job in which the front porch settled away from the home causing columns to separate from the roof line. On one end the slab had actually cracked in two and was settled away from the home as well as parallel to the home. You can see the triangle-shaped Jack Attack System holding the slab in place as foam is injected underneath.

Want more info on Alchemy-Spetec Geotech products?

Download the Info-Packed Geotech Product Catalog!

Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs

Deep Soil Stabilization with Polyurethane - A Case Study

Posted by Andy Powell on Feb 28, 2020 3:08:30 PM

1.Banner-Deep-Soil-Stabilization

2.Body-Deep-Soil-StabilizationI'd like to share a case study from a recent job that I consulted on with one of our contractor customers.

A two-story residential house in North Carolina was built on poorly compacted fill dirt. After about 20 years, it began showing evidence of settling. Interior cracks appeared in the sheetrock and some of the floors were no longer level (indicating that the footings were slowly sinking). These symptoms of unstable soil were caused by about 1 inch of settling. The engineer on the project determined that the problem was not severe enough to require helical piers. The contractor was called in to stop the sinking and reinforce the soil via deep soil polyurethane injection.

Powerful Polymer

Among the most dependable products for geotech applications, AP Lift 440 structural foam provides an exceptional DOT grade solution for these types of situations. This 4 lb. density, high-strength, hydro-insensitive structural polyurethane foam is perfect for densifying soil and stabilizing foundations (as well as lifting).

Painless Procedure

I worked with the contractor to draw up a plan, indicating exactly where the injection points would be located. The engineer reviewed the plan for feasibility. The contractor installed 18 injection tubes to a depth of 7 feet. 50 lbs of foam were administered through each tube, split between two different depths: 7 feet and 3.5 feet below grade. First, they injected from outside the house, installing foam beneath the exterior footings. Next, they injected from inside the house, installing foam beneath the load bearing interior walls. Spacing between injection points was approximately 5 feet.

Rapid Result

The deep soil stabilization process densified the soil and stopped the settlement. In addition, the contractors achieved a half inch lift from the exterior injections and another half inch lift from the interior injection sequence. The customer was extremely happy with the results. The engineer was impressed as well and said he would recommend this procedure in similar future scenarios.

Want more information on soil stabilization?

Download an Info-Packed Soil Stabilization Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Stabilize Soil

Learn How to Clean a MixMaster Gun at World of Concrete 2020

Posted by Andy Powell on Jan 23, 2020 10:35:12 AM

Learn How to Clean a MixMaster Gun at World of Concrete 2020

Learn How to Clean a MixMaster Gun at World of Concrete 2020

The MixMaster Pro slab lifting gun was designed based on years of feedback from slab lifting contractors working in the field. Every known point of frustration and difficulty has been addressed in this sturdy, single-purpose gun. Further benefits include a lower cost of consumables (you can reuse ports with this gun), beefy check valves designed to handle the back pressure, and a short 10-minutes or less breakdown/cleaning session at the end of each day.

This gun is also is a production BEAST - no leaky port connections, no fumbling with clamps. Watch your man hours on each project shrink accordingly. Did we mention you’ll have less replacement part orders? There are only a few inexpensive replacement parts on this gun - PERIOD.

Ask about the quick 10-minutes or less breakdown/cleaning session on the MixMaster Pro at our World of Concrete 2020!  Drop by to see us at our Geotech Exhibit Space - # O40551 in the Silver Lots (same location we were in last year). 

There will be a LOT to see and do at our Geotech space this year: 

Read more about our separate Leak Seal and Geotech exhibits for WOC 2020.

Want more information on the MixMaster Pro?

Download an Info-Packed MixMaster Pro Brochure!

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

See a Live Slab Lifting Demo at World of Concrete 2020

Posted by Andy Powell on Jan 14, 2020 1:30:41 PM

See a Live Slab Lifting Demo at World of Concrete 2020

See a Live Slab Lifting Demo at World of Concrete 2020World of Concrete 2020 is scheduled for February 4th - 7th, 2020 in Las Vegas, NV.  Alchemy-Spetec will feature the Leak Seal Division & Product Line in the South Hall at location S11307 and the Geotech Division & Product Line in the Silver Lots at location O40551.

Live Slab Lifting Demos

The Geotech exhibit area features a fully equipped 20-foot lifting rig, a Polybadger compact slab lifting system, and a row of concrete slabs for live lifting.  Look for the following educational activities:

  • Slab Lifting Demos
  • Lifting Foam Product Mixing Demos
  • MixMaster Gun Cleaning Demos
  • Fully Equipped Rig Tours
  • Polybadger Demos

The live slab lifting demos provide a chance for you to see Alchemy-Spetec's concrete leveling foam and equipment in action.  Technical experts will be on hand to answer all of your questions.

We look forward to seeing you there!  If you haven't already, click here to Register for World of Concrete 2020 now. 

Want more information on Alchemy-Spetec slab lifting products?

Download an Info-Packed Slab Lift Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs

How to Avoid Using More Lifting Foam Than Estimated

Posted by Andy Powell on Jan 7, 2020 4:35:54 PM

How to Avoid Using More Lifting Foam Than Estimated

How to Avoid Using More Lifting Foam Than EstimatedEvery once in a while, we will get a call from a frustrated contractor who has had a few jobs in a row where they used more foam than estimated.  Extra foam also means extra time on the job site so it's a serious concern with financial consequences.  

Although it's easy to think it might be the polyurethane not working right, that's usually not the case because formulations generally remain unchanged year after year.  Once a certain formula is dialed in and has gone through various approvals; it is unlikely to be changed.  So, what could be happening?

Site Evaluation Issues

I have been on more than a few jobs where the operator runs into a problem because the salesperson has missed something.  In cases where more foam than predicted is used it is usually because there is a big void that was not initially identified or there is very poor soil compaction.

When doing a proper site evaluation, you should start with bringing the right tools.  Bring a golf club or a piece of rebar to tap on the concrete and listen for voids.  Concrete makes a distinctly different "hollow" sound when there is a void beneath it.  Tap around the area to determine the extent of the void and then take measurements.  

I also like to have a cordless hammer drill with a 3/8" bit and a 1/2" bit.  If the customer will give you permission, ask to drill a small hole through the slab to check the void.  Make a mark on your drill bit when you break through the slab so you can determine the thickness of the slab.  Then I like to use a fiberglass driveway marker to stick through the hole and measure the amount of void.  If my drill bit is breaking through at 4" and my driveway marker goes in 7" before contacting the ground, then I know I have a 3" void.  When in contact with the ground, try to push the probe further into the ground to get an idea of compaction. If you can bury the probe by hand, then you know the ground is super soft or saturated and you need to account for more foam being used.

If you bring a borescope camera, you can drill a 1/2" hole in the slab and then insert the camera to have a look.  A good borescope will allow you to turn the camera head 90 degrees to have a look under the slab in a horizontal position.  These cameras plug into your smart phone or tablet so you can record video or take still shots.  This can be very compelling evidence to show a property owner and it also indicates that you know what you're doing.

So, what if you have all the cameras and probes, and you know how to sound out a piece of concrete with your piece of rebar; does that guarantee you won't go over on foam usage?  The answer to that is "No" because you may know how to check for a void, but you may not know where to check.  

Take, for example, a driveway slab that is down 2" from the garage slab.  It's easy for a salesperson to come out and measure the driveway slab, check for voids, and put together an estimate.  The experienced salesperson will also ask to go in the garage or carport to check for voids under that slab.  Polyurethane foam always tries to find the easiest path to travel when it is expanding.  If there is a washout under the driveway caused by a misplaced downspout; there is a good chance the void continues up under the garage as well.  Check the garage slab for cracking and tap on it with steel to listen for voids.  The point is to not get so focused on the obvious and take a look at the bigger picture.

Foam Issues

As I mentioned earlier, it's typically not going to be an issue with the foam unless you are using the wrong foam or sub-par foam in the first place.  However, you can still make a poor-quality finished foam with perfectly good raw materials and that will definitely affect the yield and the amount of foam that you will use on a job.  

Because Alchemy-Spetec does not use recycled materials in our formulations, the B-side is almost clear in color and the A side is always the color of weak coffee.  A quick test shot of our foam will let you know right away if it's on ratio because it will be a nice off-white color with a smooth skin forming as it expands.  If there is too much A side the foam will look more yellow and the texture will be crunchy.  If there is too much B side the foam will be pale white and soft.  It will take longer to cure and, in both cases, it will take more product to get the job done.

Besides doing an occasional test shot to check for color and foam curing speed, it's also important to watch the pressure gauges on the machine to make sure they are equal.  Also make note if you are going through a drum set and you consistently have too much A or too much B left over while the other drum is empty.  It could be an adjustment needs to be made at the machine itself.

Want more information on Alchemy-Spetec slab lifting solutions?

Download an Info-Packed Slab Lift Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs, Business Tips

Give the Gift of Safety

Posted by Andy Powell on Dec 19, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Give the Gift of Safety

Give the Gift of SafetyIn what is becoming an annual tradition, we are re-posting this classic Christmas blog from our Southeast Regional Manager, Andy Powell.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us here at Alchemy-Spetec.

This time of year, most people will spend a little extra time with their loved ones.  It is also a time to reflect on the loved ones we miss that are no longer with us.  Like most of us, I know people who have either been lost or have suffered through a loss.  In those cases there was nothing that could have been done to stop it.  However, there are things that we can do to guard against job related safety hazards.

I've been fortunate enough to spend time in an OSHA safety training class.  It was required in order to be present supervising a project at a chemical facility.  Signing in at 6 AM, I’ll admit I was not looking forward to spending all day there.  By the end of the day I was glad that I went.

In an intro video, the narrator said that every morning when you kiss your loved one goodbye before you go to work, keep in mind that someone, somewhere will not come home from work that day.  Workplace accidents are almost entirely preventable.  Investigations typically find the cause quite easily. 

The class I attended contained a dozen or so modules, each one with a video case study followed by the teaching.  Every case study module covered a different accident where people didn’t come home from work that day.  All of them could have been prevented.  I learned about fire, electrical and chemical safety; as well as confined space, ladders, scaffolds, and working in trenches.  I have worked in the construction industry since my teenage years, so it was sobering to look back and think about some of the close calls I had.

If you're a contractor or industry related business owner looking for a good investment, send your employees to one of these classes.  It’s an excellent opportunity for them to learn safety principles that can protect you, your other employees, and your business from being lost.  It’s a gift that will keep on giving.  You don’t need Christmas as a reason to do this, but in the spirit of the season, you may want to make it the reason.  

Click here to find an OSHA safety class near you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Topics: All Posts, Business Tips

Repairing Concrete Loading Dock Slabs

Posted by Andy Powell on Dec 5, 2019 5:57:40 PM

Repairing Concrete Loading Dock Slabs

Repairing Concrete Loading Dock Slabs (4)Unstable Loading Dock Slabs

The soil beneath a loading dock slab needs to be stable and strong on a consistent basis.  Sinking or rocking slabs can cause injury and litigation risk that no property owner should have to deal with.  The good news is that you have a choice, even if your slabs are not sinking or rocking yet!

Loading Dock Slab Repair with Polyurethane

As the premier manufacturer of polyurethane lifting and stabilization products, we sell to slab repair contractors all over North America.  Wherever your property is located, we likely know a contractor in your area who can provide an estimate for repairing your loading dock.

Alchemy-Spetec's network of factory-trained contractors can fill voids, stabilize soil and lift sunken slabs with high-strength polyurethane foam.

If you own or manage a building with loading docks, do NOT ignore the risk of injury and litigation that stems from unsupported, unstable or sinking slabs.  We can help you find a well-trained contactor to inspect the concrete in your property. 

Call Alchemy-Spetec now at 404-618-0438 or...

Click below, fill out a form for a slab lift brochure & we'll contact you ASAP.

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

Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs, Stabilize Soil, Fill Voids

The PolyBadger Lifting System: Tough and Compact

Posted by Andy Powell on Nov 21, 2019 1:05:31 PM

The PolyBadger Lifting System_ Tough and Compact

The Polybadger Lifting System_ Tough and CompactThe Alchemy-Spetec PolyBadger mobile slab lifting system (named in honor of the mighty honey badger) is tough and compact. 

The Polybadger is Tough

The PolyBadger slab lifting system is built to last:

  • The cabinet is constructed from powder coated carbon steel and the frame is constructed from carbon steel box tubing. 
  • The durable hose is constructed with a Teflon core and a stainless-steel braid. (The system can operate with up to 200 feet of hose.)
  • Essential elements (heaters, electronics, auto calibrator) are self-contained and protected in a metal cabinet.

The PolyBadger is Compact

The PolyBadger slab lifting system is durably built and designed to go where other lifting systems simply cannot venture:

  • The PolyBadger is smaller in size than most of the competition, at 30" wide and 48" long. Now that's what you call portable!
  • This is one of the few systems powered through a common 120-volt wall outlet (vs the usual 240-volt requirement). Compatibility with common wall outlets exponentially increases your location possibilities.
  • The entire system is very maneuverable, resting on two swivel and two fixed 6-inch pneumatic castor wheels.  The wheels are are filled with light weight polyurethane instead of air, so they don't go flat. 

The Auto Calibrator

Another essential feature is the auto calibrator. It keeps the flow of A-side and B-side slab lifting material on ratio, eliminating the possibility of crossover clogging in the gun or the whip hose. The two low-pressure transfer pumps and auto calibrator are literally the only moving parts in the whole system. That means less downtime, less maintenance, and more productivity on the job. This system is easier to use and a more affordable than many options on the market.

Want more info on the PolyBadger?

Download an Info-Packed PolyBadger Lifting System Brochure!

Topics: Equipment & Accessories, All Posts, Lift Slabs

Slab Lifting and Leak Sealing in Cold Weather

Posted by Andy Powell on Nov 1, 2019 10:53:58 AM

Slab Lifting and Leak Sealing in Cold Weather

Slab Lifting and Leak Sealing in Cold WeatherSlab Lifting in Cold Weather

Contrary to popular opinion, as a contractor, you don’t have to put up your equipment and rigs due to cold weather. There are many jobs to be done and many ways to keep your material conditioned. Use this season to your advantage and gain valuable business.

Seasonal attractions such as theme parks, for example, are a great place to start looking for winter work. Many of these parks (the ones that aren’t in Orlando) shut down for the winter and this is the time they do maintenance and repairs. Think of all the concrete lifting and leveling that can be done.

Read all about cold weather slab lifting markets, conditioning materials and more in our blog post Slab Lifting in Cold Weather.

Leak Sealing in Cold Weather

You have a variety of options for seeking leak seal jobs that are inside, out of the elements, during the winter months. (See the linked article below for a list of ideas.) If you’re still up for working outside during the winter months, you’re in luck because concrete contracts during colder weather. The contraction makes cracks open wider (thus easier to seal). One important point to understand is that cold weather requires you to make an extra effort to keep your materials and equipment warm.

Read all about cold weather leak seal markets, conditioning materials and more in our blog post Polyurethane Leak Seal in Cold Weather.

Want more info on Alchemy-Spetec products?

Download the Info-Packed Geotech Product Catalog!

Download the Info-Packed Leak Seal Product Catalog!

Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs, Seal Leaks, Business Tips