Alchemy-Spetec Blog

John Ziebell Reflects on 36 Years in the Industry

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Nov 19, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Banner - John Ziebell Reflects on 36 Years in the Industry

Body - John Ziebell Reflects on 36 Years in the IndustryOn this episode of The Injection Connection, Charlie Lerman takes over the hosting duties, welcoming Alchemy-Spetec independent rep John Ziebell. Formerly the Vice President of Operations for Deneef Construction Chemicals, Inc., John has 36 years of experience in the chemical grout industry and is currently a member of the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI).

Listen to the episode in its entirety below, or check it out on TheInjectionConnection.com and the following platforms:

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Topics: Repair Seawalls, Equipment & Accessories, All Posts, Lift Slabs, Seal Leaks, Stabilize Soil, Business Tips

Take Advantage of the Section 179 Tax Break on Equipment Purchases While You Can

Posted by Erik Prinzing on Nov 17, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Banner - Take Advantage for the Section 179 Tax Break

Body - Take Advantage for the Section 179 Tax BreakHigh-performance polyurethane concrete repair equipment is essential to the success of any contractor in this industry.  For that reason, I'd like to bring the Section 179 tax break to your attention.  According the Section179.org website...

Essentially, Section 179 of the IRS tax code allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment and/or software purchased or financed during the tax year. That means that if you buy (or lease) a piece of qualifying equipment, you can deduct the FULL PURCHASE PRICE from your gross income. It’s an incentive created by the U.S. government to encourage businesses to buy equipment and invest in themselves.  Read more at Section179.org.

Chris Fletcher's article, How much money can Section 179 save contractors on 2020 equipment purchases? from EquipmentWorld.com provides these essential details...

What equipment qualifies?
Almost all tangible business equipment qualifies: production machines and related equipment; office machines and furniture; computers and common software; safety equipment; most signage; business vehicles in excess of 6,000 pounds gross vehicle weight (including heavy equipment); and more.

Note: If you needed to buy equipment to modify your workspace for COVID-19, such as plexiglass dividers, air filtration systems, sanitizing stations, new servers for work-at-home people, etc., it’s very likely they are Section 179 eligible, which is great news. As always, ask your accountant for the final word.

How much money can Section 179 save me in 2020?
It depends on the cost of the equipment you purchase, and ultimately, your tax rate. But let’s say you buy $50,000 worth of equipment. With Section 179, you can deduct the entire $50,000 from your taxable income. At a 35 percent tax rate, that would result in a net tax savings of $17,500.  Read more at EquipmentWorld.com.

If you're currently considering an equipment purchase, you may want to buy before the end of 2020 so you can take advantage of the deduction on this year's tax return.  

Alchemy-Spetec offers a full selection of:

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Topics: Equipment & Accessories, All Posts, Business Tips

Charlie Lerman: The Importance of Exploratory Grouting

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Nov 12, 2020 10:00:00 AM

1. Banner - Charlie Lerman - The Importance of Exploratory Grouting

2. Body - Charlie Lerman - The Importance of Exploratory GroutingThis article is an excerpt from Episode 9 of Alchemy-Spetec's podcast The Injection Connection, featuring Charlie Lerman "The Grout Geek". Charlie is Director of Technical Services - Leak Seal® Division at Alchemy-Spetec. The Injection Connection is hosted by Jim Spiegel: Vice President of Alchemy-Spetec and Board Member at the International Concrete Repair Institute. (If you'd rather listen, an audio version of this excerpt is posted at the bottom of the article.)

Jim Spiegel: I always say to people is you should account for some exploration time. Everybody wants to go quick into, "What are the coverage rates, how many linear feet can I do in a day, how many people do I need, what’s the size of the crew, how many man hours as a prevailing wage." But I like to tell people let’s put half a day, even up to a full day depending on the job, into exploration. Would you agree with that?

Charlie Lerman: 100%. Exploratory grouting is the way to go. And on smaller jobs a lot of times, that’s going to knock out the whole job anyway. But when you get to those larger jobs for curtain grouting and crack injection, just having that day to look at and say, “These are the parameters. We think we’re going to be between this and this mark and by this procedure.” You go out there and you find - well, did I fall in that, where did I fall in that and if so, how are we going to adjust out the rest of the job now that we know some specifics there? But until you get out there, it’s really all theory. I’m in tons of meetings where there’s all this theory crafting and people talk about this stuff. And while this theory crafting is great and we need to do it to wrap our heads around the situation, it comes down to it when you’re actually injecting, you don’t have precise control over your liquid, you don’t know exactly where it went. You can only see the result and make assumptions. Whatever I pictured in my mind is what I can say happened in there, but until we rip that open, which almost never happens, you don’t know exactly how it went inside. So again, all that theory and stuff, that’s all great to talk about. But until you put the wheels on the road and see what happens, you just don’t know. I’ve seen stuff where you just start scratching your head - how could this be going that way? But it does and you figure it out and work through it.

Listen to the audio version of this excerpt...

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Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks, Business Tips

Charlie Lerman: Leak Seal Pump Systems

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Oct 29, 2020 10:00:00 AM

1. Banner - Charlie Lerman - Leak Seal Pump Systems

2. Body - Charlie Lerman - Leak Seal Pump SystemsThis article is an excerpt from Episode 9 of Alchemy-Spetec's podcast The Injection Connection, featuring Charlie Lerman "The Grout Geek". Charlie is Director of Technical Services - Leak Seal® Division at Alchemy-Spetec. The Injection Connection is hosted by Jim Spiegel: Vice President of Alchemy-Spetec and Board Member at the International Concrete Repair Institute. (If you'd rather listen, an audio version of this excerpt is posted at the bottom of the article.)

Jim Spiegel: What’s some of your favorite equipment to work with? Favorite pumping systems?

Charlie Lerman: I’ve always been a fan of the airless paint sprayers (a.k.a. modified electric injection pumps). They’re just a good workhorse and have been the industry standard. So I like those and that’s what I used most of my career. I’m dealing a lot more now with acrylate type products. And I do really like the pumps that we use for those, the plural component stainless steel pumps. Finally, I’ve seen some that are not difficult to use, which is nice to find one that’s easy. It’s still a complex machine but it’s broken down and very easy. I’d say that’s one of them that’s coming up right now. But still, it’s hard to just go away from that old reliable Graco or a Titan 440.

Jim: Yeah, for sure. It’s pretty much the status quo out there.

Charlie: But Jim, let me add - to jump on the other side of that, and we offer these pumps, it’s not like I’m badmouthing a competitor or something like that but there’s the drill pumps. And while they have their place these little drill pumps, I believe that they actually are hard for contractors because a lot of the people that look at getting the drill pumps are first-time grout users and they’re trying to save some money. So they’re getting a drill pump rather than an airless paint sprayer to save a couple hundred dollars there. The problem is that using that drill pump takes a little more technical expertise. So if it’s your first job, that’s not always the good pump to cut your teeth on. It’s got it’s good position and stuff like that and it’s light and it’s easy to move around but it does take a little more skill. That’s one of the pumps just kind of to watch out for.

Jim: Yeah, as you and I have been pretty open about, not everybody has the same experience with different equipment. You’ve pumped a lot more grout than probably all of us, but I have quite a bit of experience with the drill pumps. I agree with you. Probably the benefit that I see is that they’re easy to take apart. So, when there are issues with it, which can happen to any pump that you’re pumping chemical grouts with, you’re looking at seven Allen screws and you’re into the ball and spring assembly - so you’re pretty much in the guts of it with seven screws. That’s the only thing that I really like about it just from a maintenance standpoint. I agree completely that if you’re doing this a lot, you’re probably not doing yourself justice with it. Especially if you’re getting into higher volume sort of stuff. I mean, for any curtain or soil grouting it’s just not relevant. And you’re mixing a lot. You’re mixing small volumes all the time. As you know from being on site, especially on large volume applications, keeping product mixed can be a huge functional manpower issue. Because you just don’t account for all the time needed for having that guy keeping things mixed. I see the pros and cons for it. But it’s well noted that you’re not a huge fan.

Charlie: No and it’s still a great product. There is a niche for it though. And really that’s my main concern. And I think also that comes from my history because often times I’m either on giant projects and that’s where they’re demanding to have that customer service out there. And they’re not even looking at these pumps because, like you said, they’re just not high volume. And then the other times where I’m training people is a lot of times when they’re brand new. And it’s just not a great pump for someone brand new. But it’s light, it’s easy to maneuver and that is an advantage a lot of times when you’re just setting up and if you’re doing a residential area or you’re doing something small or you’re doing something that’s off the beaten path and you don’t want to have to carry a whole bunch of equipment.

Listen to the audio version of this excerpt...

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Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks, Business Tips

Field Service When YOU Need It

Posted by Charlie Lerman on Oct 27, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Banner - Field Service When YOU Need It

Body - Field Service When YOU Need ItWe understand that chemical grouting is often not the primary focus of a construction or repair job, but a water leak can often bring the rest of the job to a screeching halt until it is sealed. Job costs then start to pile up, production or facility services stay shut down as time drags on, sometimes tempers begin to flare. Sound familiar?

It’s not an exaggeration to state that Alchemy-Spetec has the most experienced and responsive technical support squad in the industry. In the spirit of the famous postal service motto, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”, our approach is somewhat along the lines of, “Neither weekends nor evening hours nor holidays…”. In other words we strive, to the best of our ability, to be there for you when YOU need us.

For example, Alchemy-Spetec has provided technical support for critical infrastructure jobs over Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. While on-site technical service response is based on availability and job circumstances, we have a track record of being there when it counts. In the chemical grouting industry, almost all other manufacturers have moved away from dedicated fulltime support personnel. We stand alone to help you when YOU need it.

Want more information on Alchemy-Spetec products?

Download the Info-Packed Geotech Product Catalog!

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Topics: Repair Seawalls, Equipment & Accessories, All Posts, Lift Slabs, Seal Leaks, Stabilize Soil, Business Tips, Deep Lift

Charlie Lerman: Who I’ve Learned the Most From in the Industry

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Oct 15, 2020 10:00:00 AM

1. Banner - Charlie Lerman - Who Ive Learned the Most From in the Industry

2. Body - Charlie Lerman - Who Ive Learned the Most From in the IndustryThis article is an excerpt from Episode 9 of Alchemy-Spetec's podcast The Injection Connection, featuring Charlie Lerman "The Grout Geek". Charlie is Director of Technical Services - Leak Seal® Division at Alchemy-Spetec. The Injection Connection is hosted by Jim Spiegel: Vice President of Alchemy-Spetec and Board Member at the International Concrete Repair Institute. (If you'd rather listen, an audio version of this excerpt is posted at the bottom of the article.)

Jim Spiegel: One of the questions that I really want to start incorporating into a lot of these episodes is, "Who have you learned the most from in the industry? We’ll take a little opportunity to name drop a couple of people but who have been some of your beacons in the industry who have taught you what you’ve learned?

Charlie Lerman: There are two main names that come up real quick. First there is John Ziebell. I worked directly with him for the six years that I was at De Neef and he was quite the resource for me. And then Scott Anderson also taught me a good amount and just really helped me out. And really the only reason I probably didn’t get more from Scott Anderson is just that I lived in Houston and he lives up in the New England area. Those are the two main people. I really think that they gave me my foundation to build from. But where I learned the really cool minutiae stuff is from all the intelligent engineers and contractors that I deal with. Because again, when we sit down at the table and we try to design a job, it’s not just one person. I mean, when I got in this industry, I’d never worked on a dam before. But I’d done crack injection. I understood that. So when I went to my first dam project, I had a lot to learn about that structure per se but we had the engineer and the owners. They knew the dam. I knew my product. And then we had us coming together. So I’m in a unique position where I get to pick up all this little nuanced stuff. So when you look at someone who’s out there doing crack injection or doing chemical grouting every day, they’ve got a good routine and they know their stuff for that - but they’re typically looking at similar types of projects. Whereas I get to see anything from a dam to a manhole. I’ve actually consulted on a job where we drilled into a window and grouted between CMU block and glass. That is the kind of unique stuff that just comes from those kinds of travels.

Listen to the audio version of this excerpt...

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Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks, Business Tips

Sealing Leaks in Cold Weather

Posted by Stephen C. Barton on Oct 8, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Banner - Sealing Leaks in Cold Weather

Body - Sealing Leaks in Cold WeatherAs we stated in a previous blog post, Lifting Slabs in Cold Weather, there are plenty of jobs that need to be done in the winter. This is just as true for sealing leaks as it is for slab lifting. So let's take a look at those cold weather leak seal markets. We'll also review some special considerations for conditioning leak seal material and equipment. Then we’ll leave you with a few cold temperature leak seal application tips.

Cold Weather Markets

You have a variety of options for seeking jobs that are inside, out of the elements, during the winter months.  Hopefully these ideas will spark more brainstorming on your part. First up we have tunnels, both pedestrian and vehicle. Tunnels often leak, sometimes significantly enough to result in quite a big job. Aquariums are another possibility. As you can imagine, there are infinite potential leak problems in a structure holding that much water. Other possible large jobs could include mines and water treatment plants (which have plenty of interior spaces with potential leak issues). On the smaller side, there are utility vaults, lift stations, manholes and elevator pits.

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. Wider cracks make leaks more apparent to the property owner and make them easier to repair.

Conditioning Materials and Equipment

One important point to understand is that cold weather requires you to make an extra effort to keep your materials and equipment warm. Cold material reacts slower and gets thicker. Be sure to store your materials and equipment in a heated room the night before the job. When on the jobsite, there are many ways to keep everything warm. Use an enclosed vehicle, like a box truck, enclosed trailer or pickup truck with a camper top or bed cover. Keep as much material and equipment inside the vehicle as possible when working. Use a portable heater to maintain a warm temperature. You can also use electric pail heaters to keep your resin ready for action.

Remember that it won’t do you any good to heat the resin if you’re pumping it through cold equipment. The cold steel inside the pump and the cold hose will literally suck the heat out of the resin before it gets where it needs to be. This will increase the viscosity, making it harder to mix with the water and it will slow down the reaction dramatically. So don’t neglect the equipment side of the equation!

Cold Temperature Application Tips

If you’re using a product with an accelerator, you may need to use a faster accelerator or increase your percentage. Also, bring lots of oakum. You may have to use more if the cold temperature slows down the material or the contracted concrete has made the cracks wider.

If your job requires you to inject into a structure underwater (and the water’s cold), you can use a technique called twin streaming. In this approach, you hook two valves together in parallel fashion – then inject warm water along with the resin to kick start it reacting before hitting the cold water.

Conclusion

I hope this overview has helped spark some ideas on your part for finding leak seal work during the winter months. Just remember to keep your materials and equipment conditioned and you should be fine. Have more questions about polyurethane leak seal in cold weather? Call us at 404-618-0438.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in 2019 as Polyurethane Leak Seal in Cold Weather.

Want more in-depth info on polyurethane Leak Seal®?

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Topics: Equipment & Accessories, All Posts, Seal Leaks, Business Tips

Lifting Slabs in Cold Weather

Posted by Andy Powell on Oct 6, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Banner - Lifting Slabs in Cold Weather

Body - Lifting Slabs in Cold WeatherContrary 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.

Cold Weather Markets

Seasonal attractions such as theme parks 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.

Factories can be less active in the winter months with production slowing down in many industries. This is a good time for them to do maintenance and floor repairs as well.

Warehouses typically operate year round, so there is always work available. Warehouse floors are used and abused on a daily basis and will sooner or later need some form of repairs done to keep business running at a steady pace. In addition, many warehouses have dangerous voids beneath their floors that require repair.  

Exterior concrete slabs are still worth considering, even in the cold weather. These slabs experience the most wear and tear from the environment itself (think erosion) and daily traffic. You’ll need to lift concrete slabs before the ground freezes and only after your materials have been thoroughly conditioned.

Conditioning Materials

Your slab lifting equipment probably has built in heaters and a heated hose. Each brand and model of pump has different sized pre-heaters and different ∆T (∆ = Delta and T = Temperature). This sounds complicated, but is actually quite simple.  ∆T is simply the change in temperature.  Let’s say your material has been sitting in a cold trailer all night and the temperature has dropped to 40 degrees F. If the required temperature of your B side material is 120 degrees F, then your pump better be rated with a ∆T of at least 80 degrees. However, if your material is preconditioned to 70 degrees F, then your machine only has to be rated for a ∆T of 50 degrees. As I said, every machine is rated differently based on the size of the heaters. What is important to know is that there are limitations to how much heating your machine can do.

Keeping your materials conditioned in the winter months is a lot easier than it sounds. The main point is to keep your AP Lift products above 60 degrees at all times. Keeping the polyurethane at or above that temperature can be accomplished in a number of ways.

If you have an insulated rig, it should stay around 40 degrees warmer than outside temperatures. Most foam rigs have built in electric heaters that require an extension cord to a power outlet at the job site or at your facility for overnight storage. Alternately, you could buy an electric radiator heater. Other available heating devices include drum band heaters and heated drum mats (be careful not to scorch the polymers by turning band heaters up too high). For a more DIY approach, you could build a hot box around the material storage area in your rig.

Heat Sink

Another consideration when lifting cold slabs is the heat sink factor. AP Lift products come out of the gun hot and get even hotter as they react. However, cold concrete acts as a heat sink and sucks the energy out of the foam as it starts to react. This can slow down the reaction speed of the foam. If you are pumping into a void, it will have little effect because most of the foam is not in contact with the concrete. If you are trying to lift a slab with little void, it will have more of an effect because more of the foam is in contact with the cold concrete and cold soil. More volume = more energy.

Conclusion

Don’t let common preconceptions deter you from slab lifting in cold weather. As noted above, there is no need to shut down completely for the upcoming winter months if you don’t want to. Opportunities still exist and one of them may just be the job you’ve been looking for all year. There are many ways to keep your equipment and materials conditioned to efficiently work in lower temperatures. Have more questions about slab lifting in cold weather? Call us at 404-618-0438.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in 2018 as Slab Lifting in Cold Weather.

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Topics: Equipment & Accessories, All Posts, Lift Slabs, Business Tips

Charlie Lerman: Grouting as a Game

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Oct 1, 2020 10:00:00 AM

1. Banner -Charlie Lerman -Grouting as a Game

2. Body -Charlie Lerman -Grouting as a GameThis article is an excerpt from Episode 9 of Alchemy-Spetec's podcast The Injection Connection, featuring Charlie Lerman "The Grout Geek". Charlie is Director of Technical Services - Leak Seal® Division at Alchemy-Spetec. The Injection Connection is hosted by Jim Spiegel: Vice President of Alchemy-Spetec and Board Member at the International Concrete Repair Institute. (If you'd rather listen, an audio version of this excerpt is posted at the bottom of the article.)

Charlie Lerman: I’m very honored and happy when people say, “You’re very passionate about this.” And I am. I do enjoy it. It’s a lot like a game to me. And you know I’m pushing 50 here and I still play video games. I’ve played video games all my life. And I just love the strategic element. Kind of like a chess game. I look at every grout job just like that. When I go out there, I know what my pieces do; what my product, what my pump, what my drill, I know what all those pieces can do. The thing is, the game is, that I can’t see into the wall or see into the substrate and know exactly what’s going on in there.

So I have to take my knowns and then rule out things that aren’t working or figure out why something is working. It’s a big game. And then, on the other side of that is I’m the hero. When you come out there and you help somebody with a project or something that they’re having trouble with and you’re successful, everybody is happy to see you, they’re buying you lunch. So, it’s a great thing because first off, it’s just mentally stimulating and you’re solving an issue the proper way. And then everybody is happy about it. So to me, it’s just a win-win all the way around with that.

Listen to the audio version of this excerpt...

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Topics: All Posts, Seal Leaks, Business Tips

Turbo-Charge Your Geotech Business with a Premier Material Provider

Posted by Erik Prinzing on Sep 24, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Blog Banner-Turbo-Charge Your Geotech Business with a Premier Material Provider

Blog Body-Turbo-Charge Your Geotech Business with a Premier Material ProviderThe choice of a polyurethane material provider for your geotechnical contracting business is a critical decision with far-reaching consequences. In addition to top quality concrete and soil repair material, a premier provider will offer reliable high-performance equipment, rock-solid tech support, extensive training resources and even marketing assistance.

Polyurethane Materials

All polyurethane materials are not created equally. Make sure you ask around the industry to see which materials are the most reliable.

Characteristics of High-Quality Materials

  • 100% virgin (do not contain recycled polyurethane).
  • Easy on your reactor (does not create high-pressure that wears out your equipment).
  • Unlikely to catch fire (yes, some sub-par materials out there will char or catch fire while setting up).
  • Capable of bonding to concrete.
  • Strong and durable after they set up.
  • Approved for contact with potable (drinking) water after curing.

Rigs and Equipment

The quality of your geotech rig is not something you want to compromise on. A premier provider will offer state of the art rigs set ups, customized to fit your exact needs. You’ll want multiple door options (side door, choice of barn door vs ramp door), multiple power outlets and slide-out equipment options. These features allow for maximum flexibility in all types of job situations. In addition, a well-insulated rig allows for operation in a wide variety of climates.

Your pumps, air compressors and slab lifting guns need to be reliable as well.

Characteristics of High-Quality Equipment

  • Easy to use (not overly complicated).
  • Easy to maintain (easy to clean, not a lot of complicated parts to replace all the time).
  • Reliable, reputable brands.

Tech Support and Training Resources

A major differentiator separating serious material manufacturers from the rest is the availability of on-the-job technical support and service. A premier provider will offer field service to assist customers on challenging jobs. Phone support should readily available as well, with support techs ready to answer questions when you need the answers. You will also want to look for comprehensive training resources on material installation, equipment use and maintenance, and estimating/billing jobs. A good combination of online videos and articles, training literature and live events is the sign of a manufacturer dedicated to educating their customers.

Marketing Assistance

Look for a provider offering robust marketing assistance. Geotech contractors have many marketing needs, including website content (illustrations, photos, descriptive text), videos, vehicle sign design, advice on lead capture, etc. A manufacturer willing to go the extra mile in this department can help give you an edge of the competition in your market.

Do Your Own Research, Make Your Own Choices

Did we just describe Alchemy-Spetec in the paragraphs above? Of course we did. This is the Alchemy-Spetec blog after all. That being said, we encourage you to do your own research and contemplate your own needs in a material provider. Ask around in the industry. Seek out users of different brands and find out all you can about their experiences. If you think we missed anything in this article, let us know. We’d be happy to hear from you.

Want more info on Alchemy-Spetec products?

Download the Info-Packed Geotech Product Catalog!

Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs, Stabilize Soil, Business Tips, Deep Lift, Fill Voids