Alchemy-Spetec Blog

Charlie Lerman

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Case Study - Curtain Grouting a Complex Crack in a Basement Floor

Posted by Charlie Lerman on Oct 20, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Banner - Body - Curtain Grouting a Complex Crack in a Basement Floor

Body - Curtain Grouting a Complex Crack in a Basement FloorIn Louisville, Kentucky the Presbyterian church owned two historic buildings with an alley between them. Last century, an addition was added removing the alley and connecting the two buildings. Unfortunately, the addition was not properly waterproofed during construction. This led to water below-grade infiltration and a plethora of very complex leaking cracks and joints in the basements of both buildings and the new connecting structure.

The building is still home to a Presbyterian church. For years, the administrators have been simply dealing with the water by channeling it, as best they could, to sump pumps. Many and various repair attempts have been made over the years, but none of them have been successful in the long term. Recently, the church administration reached out to BJB Restoration for help with this ongoing issue. Due to the complexity of the project, Alchemy-Spetec's Director of Technical Services - Leak Seal Division Charlie "The Grout Geek" Lerman was called in to consult on the job.

Powerful Polymers

The technicians chose Spetec PUR HighFoamer as the repair material for this job because its expansive nature when catalyzed with Spetec GEN ACC Accelerator makes it a very cost-effective curtain grouting polyurethane resin. This one-component, closed-cell, hydrophobic, water-reactive, solvent, and phthalate-free, low-viscosity resin is also ideal for filling any voids created by the water underneath the basement slabs.

Painless Procedures

This particular job was what we like to call exploratory grouting, focused on two trial areas of complex cracking. The crew started injecting in the area of the primary leak. As they injected, water and foam began to bubble up along an adjacent and previously unidentified trench-like defect as well as the cracking being addressed. The initial injection covered the main crack and a surrounding area of about 16 feet (thanks to the expansive nature of Spetec PUR HighFoamer). Outgassing (CO2 produced during polymerization) was visible in numerous defects outside of that radius, requiring additional injections to seal the entire area.

Rapid Results

This one-day exploratory grouting project provided the contractor with a very accurate understanding of the type of problem and soil conditions they were dealing in the basements. The contractor and church administrators subsequently agreed upon a long-term maintenance plan based on the church's budget that calls for periodic curtain grouting over the next few years to address the many remaining basement floor defects in both buildings.

Want more information on curtain grouting?

Download an Info-Packed Curtain Wall Grouting Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks

EPA Announces Training Funds for Rural Wastewater Systems

Posted by Charlie Lerman on Jul 26, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Banner - EPA Training Funds for Rural Wastewater Systems

Body - EPA Training Funds for Rural Wastewater SystemsWhether you think about it a lot or not, our wastewater system is crumbling and we spend billions, nationwide, each year treating groundwater that has entered our collection systems. This problem is too costly to ignore, but can be hard to address with the tight budgets many rural sewer districts are on.

On June 24, 2022, the EPA announced up to $18 million in available federal grant funding via a request for applications to provide training and technical assistance to serve small, rural, and tribal community wastewater systems. This funding will improve public health and environmental protection by helping to ensure that wastewater in these communities is safe and treated before being responsibly returned to the environment.

While the federal government is providing the grants, Alchemy-Spetec can train municipalities and their contractors on how to easily address the low-hanging fruit of water infiltration found in manholes and lift stations. Not only can we help you identify trouble areas in your collection systems but we also provide high-quality grouts coupled with the industry's top technical support.

August is just about booked out and there are only a couple of spots left for September for our manhole leak seal demonstrations. If you are unsure of how you would like to move forward, contact us to set up an online meeting to discuss your specific challenges and/or needs.

Want more information on leak seal products and equipment?

Download the Info-Packed Leak Seal Product Catalog!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks, Business Tips

Repairing Leaks in Composite Manholes (Guidance from the Grout Geek)

Posted by Charlie Lerman on Jun 28, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Banner - Repairing Leaks in Composite Manholes

Body - Repairing Leaks in Composite ManholesSewers can be aggressive to downright hostile environments for concrete. Composite and fiberglass manholes are becoming more popular due to their superior resistance to sewer gases. While chemically resistant, composite manholes still have penetrations and joints. And any structure with penetrations and joints is still susceptible to infiltration.

The good news is that your everyday go-to grouts for concrete manhole water mitigation work just as well on composite or fiberglass manholes. Spetec PUR Highfoamer is a single component hydrophobic semi-rigid grout that is ideal for curtain grouting behind and around leaking penetrations and joints. When it comes to crack injection for penetrations and or joints, Spetec PUR GT380 and Spetec PUR F400 have the flexibility and chemical resistance you will need for the tough sewer environment.

Industries and technologies change over time and Alchemy-Spetec offers a full line of grouts that can provide for your long-term waterproofing needs - whether for composite, fiberglass, concrete or brick manholes and lift stations. 

Want more information on polyurethane leak seal products?

Download the Info-Packed Leak Seal Product Catalog!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks

Classic Sewer Failure (Guidance from the Grout Geek)

Posted by Charlie Lerman on May 24, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Banner - Classic Sewer Failure

Body - Classic Sewer FailureRead through this list:

  • Manholes
  • Catch basins
  • Drop inlets
  • Wet wells
  • The Grand Canyon

This is not a game of which one doesn't belong, as they all channel water and can cause erosion. The Grand Canyon is breathtaking. Likewise, washouts or sinkholes caused by leaking and neglected infrastructure are breathtaking - but in a completely different way. They're breathtaking in regard to the high costs of emergency repairs and the potential damage they cause.

This quote, from an article on KCCI.com, sums it up nicely...

“At first, crews resurfacing the pavement thought a large piece of machinery had fallen into a sinkhole 10 feet deep… It turns out an original clay storm sewer pipe had disconnected, leaking water for what appears to be a long time, eroding the earth around it.”

There is no downside to fixing these common infrastructure issues before they get out of control. Any repair costs are quickly offset by the reduction of sewer water requiring treatment. Who is not for lower sewer rates, a healthier environment, longer-lasting infrastructure, and fewer manmade washouts/sinkholes?

So why don’t we address infiltration more? It is as simple as the old adage "out of sight out of mind". Infiltration is a preventable and treatable sewage collection system problem. We have neglected our infrastructure for too long and we need to raise public awareness of the issue.

We at Alchemy-Spetec not only manufacture quality polyurethane chemical grouts for these types of repairs, but we also provide top-notch training and support for leak seal crews. Call 404-618-0438 and let us know how we can assist you in raising awareness about or repairing infiltration. We are all in this together.

Want more information on leak seal products and equipment?

Download the Info-Packed Leak Seal Product Catalog!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks

Case Study: Leak Seal in Water Treatment Plant Pump Station Manhole

Posted by Charlie Lerman on May 12, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Banner-Case Study-Leak Seal in Water Treatment Plant Pump Station Manhole

Body-Case Study-Leak Seal in Water Treatment Plant Pump Station ManholeThe Central Davis Sewer District (CDSD) is a publicly owned collection system and water treatment plant that serves three local cities in Northern Utah. With a new highway being constructed just outside their facility, a new pump station had to be installed on the premises. After installation of the new pump station, a large leak appeared in the manhole which caused it to fill up with about 10 feet of water. The CDSD contacted PolyFoam Solutions to see what could be done to seal the leaks. The PolyFoam Solutions crew pumped all the water out of the manhole and discovered that two of the manhole’s horizontal joints had large leaks. These leaks were allowing about 10-15 gallons per minute (over 20,000 gallons per day) of water to infiltrate the pump station.

Powerful Polymers

PolyFoam Solutions worked closely with Charlie Lerman, Alchemy-Spetec's Director of Technical Services for the Leak Seal Division. Together, they devised a plan to seal the large leaks using Spetec PUR F400. Spetec PUR F400 is a solvent and phthalate-free, water-reactive, hydrophobic, closed-cell, low viscosity, shrink-free, flexible, one-component polyurethane injection resin designed to stop water leaks. It is also certified to NSF/ANSI/CAN 61 (approved for contact with drinking water).

Painless Procedures

The crew drilled four holes around the lower manhole joint and then installed injection ports. As they pumped the polyurethane grout into the ports, it began to travel around the joint, sealing the leaks. Once the grout had traveled as far as it could from one port, the technician moved on to the next port until the entire joint had been sealed watertight. They used oakum to temporarily seal some of the larger leaks until the grout had time to cure. The upper joint only required 3 port injections due to the speed at which the grout traveled.

Rapid Results

The crew only took about 3 hours to completely seal all of the leaks and return the manhole to service. There was no way the leaks could have been left un-repaired due to the water treatment cost and the potential damage the erosion would have caused. Replacing the manhole would have easily cost three or more times the price of grouting. In this case, the community wins as many tax dollars are being saved.

Want more info on leak seal products and equipment?

Download the Info-Packed Leak Seal Product Catalog!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks

CE/PDH Accredited Presentation on Polyurethane Leak Seal Applications

Posted by Charlie Lerman on May 3, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Banner - Accredited Leak Seal Presentation

Body - Accredited Leak Seal PresentationThe Specialty Waterproofing with Chemical Grouts presentation explains and demonstrates how polyurethane chemical grout can be used to cut off leaks in structures. The presentation covers the following topics:

  • Chemical Grouting Primer
    • History
    • Safety
    • Characteristics
  • Utilization & Applications
    • Identifying Applications
    • Selecting a Chemical Grout
    • Epoxy & Hydraulic Cement
  • Installation Techniques
    • Crack and Joint Injection
    • Curtain Grouting
    • Oakum Soakum
    • Equipment Overview

This one-hour CE/PDH accredited presentation is ideal for engineers who are interested in learning about next-generation leak seal repair methods for sealing leaks in structures, controlling inflow/infiltration, and more.

Click here and submit your info for a follow-up call on scheduling an accredited presentation.

Want more info on leak seal products and equipment?

Download an Info-Packed Leak Seal Brochure!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks, Engineer Resources

Ask Your Distributor to Schedule an Alchemy-Spetec Grout Lab

Posted by Charlie Lerman on Apr 26, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Banner - Ask Your Distributor to Schedule an Alchemy-Spetec Grout Lab

Body - Ask Your Distributor to Schedule an Alchemy-SpetecAlchemy-Spetec grout labs are a great way to learn about industry-leading polyurethane leak seal products and applications. These are usually half-day events featuring...

Classroom Polyurethane Leak Seal Training

  • Safety Considerations for Polyurethane Leak Seal Work
  • Crack Injection Products and Application Procedures
  • Curtain Grouting Products and Application Procedures

Live Polyurethane Leak Seal Demos

  • Concrete Crack Injection
  • Curtain Grouting
  • Pump Startup and Maintenance

Contact your local distributor of polyurethane leak seal products and ask them to schedule an Alchemy-Spetec grout lab at their location. To find a distributor stocking Alchemy-Spetec products near you, click your state on this interactive map

Want more information on leak seal products and equipment?

Download the Info-Packed Leak Seal Product Catalog!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks, Business Tips

Grouting on Remote Sites (Guidance from the Grout Geek)

Posted by Charlie Lerman on Apr 21, 2022 11:25:00 AM

Banner - Grouting on Remote Sites

Body - Grouting on Remote SitesOne of the many joys of my job is going to all corners of North America and participating in unique projects. While I am a seasoned traveler, cement is not. Cement grout often requires heavy equipment. Shipping cement grout and related equipment can be expensive. While often not a concern for most projects, it is a driving factor for remote locations.

I have been involved with numerous projects in which cement grout would be an acceptable repair and more cost-effective than chemical grout - until the project location gets factored in. Dams are found in many remote locations. The very remote ones are often built using a temporary road that can handle heavy construction traffic. Fast forward some years and these roads no longer can support cement trucks or other heavy vehicles.

Chemical grouting equipment can easily be loaded into a pickup truck or even on the back of an ATV. While the material cost of polyurethane chemical grout is more than cementitious grout, getting polyurethane materials and equipment to a remote site can be a lot less expensive.

Lightweight polyurethane is much easier to mobilize with a small to non-existent footprint. This means it is less disruptive to sensitive sites. (Seawalls are a good example where chemical grouting can be done without tearing up the home owner’s yard with heavy cementitious grouting equipment.)

There are many factors to consider for every grouting job. It helps to have the Grout Geek and Alchemy-Spetec in your corner to help design the right plan for your project.

Want more information on Alchemy-Spetec products?

Download the Info-Packed Leak Seal Product Catalog!

Download the Info-Packed Geotech Product Catalog!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks, Business Tips

Shut Down Gushing Leaks with Oakum & Chemical Grout (Guidance from the Grout Geek)

Posted by Charlie Lerman on Apr 7, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Banner2 - Shut Down Gushing Leaks with Oakum & Chemical Grout

Body - Shut Down Gushing Leaks with Oakum & Chemical GroutPolyurethane chemical grout injection can be a bit of a Pandora’s box at times. So, what can be done to help combat some of these uncertainties? Well, how about the easiest and most cost-effective solution first. Oakum! Not only is it amazing what you can accomplish with it, but it is vital to have on every job. YES, I SAID EVERY JOB.

There are only two things that have to happen for successful water mitigation. One, get the grout to the right location. Two, keep it there long enough to react. With tight cracks, it can be difficult to get the grout to travel in the crack, but once you get it there it is good to go. With wide cracks or high flow leaks, getting to the right place is easy, but keeping it there long enough to set up can be challenging.

You can use oakum to control grout and keep it where you want it in the crack or joint. Remember we are doing the injection work to stop the flow of water, so let’s make the least amount of holes possible in the concrete. But what does that have to do with oakum? Cracks are irregular, and often have sections that are wider in some sections. When this wider area is at the surface it can allow an easy escape path for a grout under pressure. That means you are wasting grout and not getting it where it needs to be, deep in the crack. Sure, if you have raw resin coming out of the crack you can just wait for it to cure. Once cured you cannot reinject that packer, so it is best to surface seal that crack and stop or slow down the loss of grout. This allows you to continue effective pumping into the crack or joint.

If the crack or joint is wide, grout impregnated oakum can be packed in place. While messy, this is the equivalent of finger painting with chemical grouts and is an easy process.

If you're thinking "I have rags, I don’t need oakum", think again. Oakum is stronger, can be pulled apart into just a few fibers if needed, and can be stuffed into very tiny defects where rags cannot fit.

Want more information on leak seal products?

Download the Info-Packed Leak Seal Product Catalog!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks

Contractor Seals Leaks in Quenching Tanks for Aluminum Manufacturer

Posted by Charlie Lerman on Mar 10, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Banner - Contractor Seals Leaks for Aluminum Manufacturer

Body - Contractor Seals Leaks for Aluminum ManufacturerA large Mid-Western aluminum manufacturer was losing water from all of its quenching tanks. Losing 3 million gallons in half a year can be expensive, not to mention the massive effect that volume of water can have on soil and the structures it supports. So, they reached out to one of their trusted maintenance contractors, who in turn came to Alchemy-Spetec for guidance on how to efficiently mitigate the leaks with minimal downtime. 

Powerful Polymer

After consulting with Alchemy-Spetec, the contractor injected Spetec PUR F400 to seal the leaking cracks. This material is a solvent and phthalate-free, water-reactive, hydrophobic, closed-cell, low viscosity, shrink-free, flexible, one-component polyurethane injection resin designed to shut off water leaks.

Painless Procedure

Concrete crack injection with polyurethane resin is a five-step process:
1. Drill the injection holes.
2. Flush debris out of the holes with water.
3. Install the injection port.
4. Flush the crack with water.
5. Inject the resin.

Rapid Results

The crew repaired leaks in one tank at a time with no manufacturing delays. This meant no production interruption. The work was done at a fraction of the cost of replacing the tanks.

Want more information on leak seal products and equipment?

Download the Info-Packed Leak Seal Product Catalog!

Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks