Alchemy-Spetec Blog

Dynamic Cone Penetrometer: An Essential Tool for Deep Lift® Jobs

Posted by Joel Bryant on Sep 17, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Banner - Dynamic Cone Penetrometer An Essential Tool for Deep Lift Jobs

As a consultant on many deep soil geotech jobs over the years, I have found myself recommending one critical piece of equipment repeatedly: The Dynamic Cone Penetrometer (aka the DCP). I highly recommend this tool as an essential part of your Deep Lift® rig set up. As Jim Spiegel explained in his blog post on this subject, this device is used to measure the strength of subgrade soils, and can be utilized to identify weak layers of soil within a soil mass. As you can see in the video below, a hydraulic pump drops a 30kg (60lb) hammer, driving the measuring rod into the ground.

To measure soil strength, the operator counts the number of blows it takes to drive the steel rod in 10-centimeter increments. Good soil requires 10+ blows to drive the rod 10 centimeters. Anything less is typically indicative of weak soil conditions.

DCP testing is a widely accepted means of in situ testing. Due to the common acceptance of DCP testing, many municipalities and agencies are willing to pay for this service.

Here is a hypothetical scenario for DCP use:

Soil strength data is needed under a concrete parking lot before a Deep Lift® job. Multiple tests would be performed, spread out evenly over the area. For thorough testing, each DCP test would be executed to a minimum depth of 15 – 20 feet or refusal (when the hammer blows no longer cause movement.) The test results can then be compared and analyzed to find where potential weak soil conditions may be present. This allows for accurate and effective application of the polymer to address the weak layers.

DCP testing can also be utilized prior to bidding any Deep Lift® job to develop effective injection plans, as well as accurately estimate material usage on projects. With that said, it’s not always possible or practical to perform pre-bid testing. When pre-bid testing is not performed, it would still prove highly beneficial to perform DCP testing prior to injection. I have personally encountered many situations where injection plans have been drastically altered after test results were analyzed (injection depth was added or subtracted, the weakest layers were identified, etc.) The Dynamic Cone Penetrometer is a portable tool which can easily be used in many locations where other testing methods are not feasible and it provides valuable insight into the soil conditions that need to be improved.

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Topics: Equipment & Accessories, All Posts, Lift Slabs, Deep Lift

How to Deal with Bound Slabs on a Concrete Leveling Job

Posted by Colt Hullander on Sep 15, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Banner - How to Deal with Bound Slabs on a Concrete Leveling Job

Body - How to Deal with Bound Slabs on a Concrete Leveling Job

When two adjacent slabs are touching, there is a high likelihood of them being bound. This is definitely something to look out for on slab lifting jobs for a variety of reasons.

Bound Slab Basics

If you try to lift a slab that is bound to an adjacent slab, you could end up:

  • Lifting a part of the slab that you did not intend to lift.
  • Cracking the slab.
  • Lifting the adjacent slab unintentionally.
  • Wasting valuable extra material trying to lift a slab that is stuck.

Even if a seam between two slabs or a control joint (a joint meant to break when the slab is under pressure in order to prevent cracking) is already loose - it's still best to run a saw through it just to be sure before attempting to lift. A concrete saw blade is 1/8-inch wide. When you cut between slabs, you are giving them a 1/8-inch gap to ensure smooth movement.

Pros and Cons of Two Types of Concrete Saws

There are two types of concrete saws to choose from when stocking your arsenal of slab lifting gear. Here are the pros and cons of each…

Circular Saw

Circular-Saw
Photo Courtesy of STIHL.

PROS

  • Fast cutting rate.
  • Low operating cost.
  • Easily sourced blades.

CONS

  • Requires overcuts (the blade typically extends 4 to 6 inches past the edge of the slab).
  • Requires a wide berth. Cannot cut up against edges of walls and structures.

Concrete Chainsaw

Concrete-Chainsaw
Photo Courtesy of STIHL.

PROS

  • Doesn't require overcuts.
  • Can cut up against the edges of walls and structures.
  • Can cut up to 12 inches deep.

CONS

  • Has a high operating cost (chains and bars tend to be expensive).
  • Low cut footage per bar and chain compared to circular saw blade.

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Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs

Matt and Travis from Lift It Rite on the Best Blade for Cutting Bound Slabs

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Aug 11, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Banner-Matt & Travis from Lift It Rite on the Best Blade for Cutting Bound Slabs

Body-Matt & Travis from Lift It Rite on the Best Blade for Cutting Bound SlabsThis article is an excerpt from Episode 8 of Alchemy-Spetec's podcast The Injection Connection, featuring Matt Chittick and Travis Germick, co-owners of Lift It Rite, LLC, a residential slab-lifting business. 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 watch the video clip of this exchange, it is posted at the bottom of the article.)

Jim Spiegel: When you’re on slab lifting job, what do you think holds you up the most often?

Matt Chittick: I would say binding slabs are the hardest thing that we deal with. But we've done a couple of jobs here recently where the bind was good and it allowed something to come up together like we needed it to, versus breaking that crack that was binding apart and lifting one side versus the other side. But binding slabs are generally the hardest thing to figure out and make work for you, I would say.

Jim: So, when you have something binding, when do you make the decision to cut into it?

Travis Germick: Well, you can look at it and say, okay, there's a possibility of it binding or something like that, we'll go ahead and take care of it. I mean, those saw blades we were talking about earlier in the podcast are amazing that we picked up. So we’re not as scared to pull it out and saw through what we got to saw through.

Matt: They cut like butter. That was an actual company that we met out there at the World of Concrete. We bought three blades from the guy. Well, actually he sent us one first. We tried it, we were like, yeah, need more of these. And I don't think we've used any of the ones we just bought. I think we're still on the first one.

Travis: We are. I mean, they're really good blades.

Jim: You want to give them a plug? What kind of blade is it?

Matt: Diamond Blade Warehouse.

Travis: There you go.

Jim: Super blade from a Diamond Blade Warehouse and of all the blades you've used, you think that's one of the better ones?

Travis: Yeah it really is, whether it's a cured concrete, old stuff where the house has been there for forty years or whether it's stuff that’s two years old.

Watch the excerpt...

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Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs

Tips for New Slab Lifters from Matt & Travis of Lift It Rite

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Aug 6, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Banner-Tips for New Slab Lifters from Matt & Travis of Lift It Rite

Body-Tips for New Slab Lifters from Matt & Travis of Lift It RiteThis article is an excerpt from Episode 8 of Alchemy-Spetec's podcast The Injection Connection, featuring Matt Chittick and Travis Germick, co-owners of Lift It Rite, LLC, a residential slab-lifting business. 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 watch the video clip of this exchange, it is posted at the bottom of the article.)

Jim Spiegel: If there's one thing that you guys, a piece of advice or some sage wisdom, as I know you guys are full of that as well as punch lines (laughter), what would you say to someone thinking about getting into the lifting business?

Travis Germick: If you're going to get into the industry, I would say get with Alchemy-Spetec and get some training. Hang out with those guys, come down and watch someone do the work. Get with a reputable company, come with us and work for a day or two and see what it's all about.

There's a lot of people that can definitely do this job but there's also a lot of people that could not do this job. There's a work ethic that goes with it. And I think with any spray foam or something like that, if it's insulation or whatever it is but there's a special ethic that has to go with it and special type of person it takes to get into this. But we absolutely love it. Every day, we get up, we're excited to do what we do because our customers’ minds are blown every time they see foam lifting concrete. And we feed off of that. I mean, they're over there like, “wow, that was cool” and I'm like, “I know, right?” That was really neat. We’re really psyched about it as well. There's a lot of times where Matt and I are high fiving each other because, that was a really cool job we just did.

That’s the only takeaway I have with it. I think it's a great industry to be in. I think it's a great service that we're offering and it's cool, too. It really is some neat stuff. What do you think, Matt?

Matt Chittick: I 100% agree. I would tell somebody you can learn all the ins and outs of it but until you get on the job sites and you see some things happen and you kind of roll with the punches, me and Travis, we have fun. If you have fun, it doesn't feel like you're working. And I would say have fun. You want to look for more good jobs than bad, but don't let the bad jobs bring down your attitude because your customers will feed off of your attitude. If you have a great positive attitude, those customers are going to have a great positive attitude. And if they have a great positive attitude, guess what, they love writing checks.

Jim: Yeah. I couldn't agree with you more that the attitude is such a big part of it. And then that starts when you get out of your truck, right?

Travis: Absolutely.

Jim: If you get out of your truck and you’re all smiles and having a good time with them, it just leads into a good experience. Not only do they feel like they trust you, but when things go wrong, they're more tolerant, I feel.

Matt: Yeah, absolutely. I would say because of our attitudes and things like that, we've been able to explain some things to customers and show them what happened here, what happened there and whatnot and they know that we're professional because that's the way we come across. We keep them involved in it, and when they see these things happen, I think they are a lot more tolerant and really accept some of the imperfections. That might be because getting concrete back to the original exact part or area whre it was might not always be what you can do. But if you talk about those expectations and you keep the customer informed and you're upbeat and positive, that's just going to transcend right to your customer and then everybody's okay and everybody's having a good day.

Watch the excerpt...

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Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs, Business Tips

Why Are You Trippin'?

Posted by Robin Smith on Aug 4, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Banner-Why Are You Trippin

Body-Why Are You Trippin-2This post is part of the Alchemy-Spetec Contractor Lens series, featuring views, news & case studies written by our customers.  This article, written by Robin Smith of Dalinghaus Construction, reviews common causes of trip hazards and the repair solution of polyurethane concrete leveling.  If you're an Alchemy-Spetec customer and you'd like to discuss writing content for our blog, please send an email to marketing@alchemy-spetec today!

Raise your hand if you have ever tripped walking down the sidewalk!

Well you are trippin’ for 1 of 2 reasons:

  1. You are uncoordinated, and can’t be trusted to walk and chew gum at the same time (that would be me).
    OR
  2. Uneven concrete slabs created a trip hazard that you have just fallen victim to!

What causes concrete to shift, become uneven, and cause these trip hazards?

  • Expansive clay soil: Expansive clay soil is prone to swelling and shrinking. Changes such as temperature, drought, and moisture causes it to expand and contract...causing the concrete to move.
  • Soil compaction: When preparing to build a home, the soil must be moved around, or graded, to create a level base to build upon. If the soils aren’t properly compacted before the concrete is poured, over time, it eventually compresses and can settle. This settlement can cause the concrete to shift.
  • Leaking water: If a plumbing or irrigation line springs a leak, it can erode the soil around the concrete, causing it to be unstable.
  • Poor drainage: Similar to a leak, improper drainage can also cause erosion.

Concrete removal and replacement can be costly. There is a cost effective solution that can even out those dangerous trip hazards in just 1 day!

Polyurethane concrete leveling to the rescue! Polyurethane concrete leveling, also known as “polyjacking”, is a process in which the contractor drills small holes through the affected sunken slabs. A port is then placed in the hole, the polyurethane is injected as a liquid, then quickly expands to lift the slab back into place.

If you are a visual person like me, check out this video on the Dalinghaus Consruction YouTube channel...

Whether it is a sidewalk, porch, patio, or a VERY busy Orange County Transportation Authority bus stop (insert one more rad video)...

...polyurethane concrete leveling is often an excellent solution, without breaking the bank!

Click here for more information on Dalinghaus Construction.

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Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs

Polyurethane Foam - Less Downtime and Increased Bottom Line

Posted by J.R. Crowell on Jul 30, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Banner - Less Downtime Increased Bottom Line

Body - Less Downtime Increased Bottom LineThis post is part of the Alchemy-Spetec Contractor Lens series, featuring views, news & case studies written by our customers.  This article, written by J.R. Crowell of Helms Polyfoam, explains why polyurethane slab lifting requires less downtime than alternative repair solutions (and why that's an advantage for property owners & managers).  If you're an Alchemy-Spetec customer and you'd like to discuss writing content for our blog, please send an email to marketing@alchemy-spetec today!

When deciding on a repair plan for a commercial facility, no matter the type of repair, one very important factor to consider is downtime. That old expression “time is money” is not a joke, especially when we are talking about downtime for a business.

A large portion of repairs in the commercial market, whether it be concrete lifting, soil stabilization, or void fill, are in areas with high traffic. This traffic usually consists of forklifts, heavy equipment, and semi-truck and trailers, all of which have a dollar amount tied to their load or run time. Every minute they are aren’t running is a minute they 1) are not making money or 2) are losing money on a late delivery or late project completion.

How is Polyurethane Foam Beneficial to Downtime?

Small Footprint:

Polyurethane repairs generally require only one truck or trailer or even smaller equipment. Crews can work around high traffic areas and times to ensure that daily workflow is minimally impacted.

No Excavation:

Repairs are completed using polyurethane resins injected through a 3/8” – 5/8” hole. These injections are completed from the equipment mentioned above, requiring no heavy equipment. No heavy equipment means that employees will not have to alter their site flow to navigate around a large excavator or concrete truck.

Fast Cure Time:

When it comes to concrete lifting, polyurethane resins begin to set up within 15 seconds after injection and are 90% cured within 30 minutes. This means that by the time the crew leaves the site, the treated areas are ready for “business as usual” and can allow normal traffic. Compare this to demolition and concrete pouring (days of labor and curing), and you see a huge savings on downtime.

If time truly equals money, and we all know it does, the above three reasons show how a polyurethane repair can keep downtime to a minimum and maintain an efficient workflow, thus keeping the bottom line in order. When comparing estimates of various repair methods, don’t get stuck on the dollar figure, always compare the total repair plan and what it could cost on the back end.

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Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs

Colt Hullander Joins Alchemy-Spetec as Director of Technical Services - Geotech Division

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Jul 14, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Banner-Colt Hullander Alchemy-Spetec

Body-Colt Hullander Alchemy-SpetecAlchemy-Spetec is pleased welcome Colt Hullander! Colt will join us as the new Director of Technical Services – Geotech Division, supporting Alchemy-Spetec customers on a wide variety of polyurethane jobs, from slab lifting to soil stabilization and seawall repair. He brings a decade of geotech experience to the team.

Colt put in many years as a project manager for Stable Soils of Florida where he oversaw polyurethane rig assembly and chemical grout installation projects. After that he briefly worked for Alchemy-Spetec as a Tech Services Rep for about a year. Colt then amicably moved on to Ramjack South Florida to become a Project Manager for their Seawall Division. We are happy to welcome him back in this new role.

Alchemy-Spetec VP of Sales & Business Development Jim Spiegel is excited about the ways in which this hire will benefit the market: “Colt brings many years of invaluable field experience with expertise in a wide range of equipment, products, and techniques. His field experience coupled with his technical acumen for equipment improvements will undoubtedly offer our Geotech customers another industry-leading resource. As most grouting contractors agree, there is no substitute for field experience, and Colt has no shortage of it.”

Want more info on Alchemy-Spetec products?

Download the Info-Packed Geotech Product Catalog!

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

Matt Chittick and Travis Germick of Lift It Rite

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Jun 30, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Banner-Lift It Rite

Body-Lift It RiteOn Episode 8 of The Injection Connection, Jim sits down with Matt Chittick and Travis Germick, co-owners of Lift It Rite, LLC, a residential slab-lifting business servicing the Greater Atlanta and surrounding markets. Matt and Travis offer valuable insights on how to start a lifting business, production considerations, and the under-appreciated value of showing up with a smile - and perhaps a hamburglar costume!  (Jim Spiegel is Vice President of Alchemy-Spetec and a Board Member at the International Concrete Repair Institute.)

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

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Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs, Business Tips

Ann Thaxton on Advertising Strategy & Costs for Contractors

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Jun 25, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Banner-Advertising Strategy and Cost for Contractors

Body-Advertising Strategy and Cost for ContractorsThis article is an excerpt from Episode 7 of Alchemy-Spetec's podcast The Injection Connection, featuring concrete lifting marketing expert Ann Thaxton of ConcreteTitans.com. 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 exchange is posted at the bottom of the article.)

Jim Spiegel: As you know in the industry it's very expensive to get into this, just on the equipment side of things. You're looking at 50, 60, 70, even more - $100,000 perhaps depending on your rig setup.  So, one of the questions we get all the time is – “Okay, I'm going to invest in this equipment. What are you going to do for me and how do I get leads?” That's probably the number one question. For the customers that buy the equipment, their biggest problem we see as far as their success is their lack of marketing or advertising strategy. Say I'm Joe the builder and I want to get into this, and my first question is, “How do I start? Where do I even start with marketing, advertising and lead capture?”  Could you talk us through what solutions you may offer on that and any information on monthly budgets?

Ann Thaxton: We've found throughout the industry that for cost per lead, your cheapest cost per lead is digital advertising. Your most expensive cost per lead is TV. And everything else falls in between. Your average cost per lead with digital advertising runs between $40 and $50 per lead. TV runs around $200 to $250 per lead. Direct Mail runs about $150 per lead. Ideally, if you were a more mature company, you would do all of those because studies show that it takes anywhere between 12 and 18 touch points for somebody to convert to become a customer. If you're just starting out in the business, your cheapest cost per lead is digital advertising. But I wouldn't just stop there. If you have time on your hands and if you are able to, then print up some door hangers and hang them up around neighborhoods where you know they have some problems with their concrete. If you level concrete in one neighborhood, you hang door hangers on both sides of that house and across the street for sure. And you ask your customer if they would please refer people to you because referrals are really the gold standard here. Referrals are “free” cost per lead. So, once you get really mature as a company, you get so many referrals that it just becomes gravy on top. But to start out, I would think that you would do a lot of that pounding the pavement type of work to get your name out and then do some lead advertising. And I have different levels of service. From the start, from the starting service up to 4+ rig companies. And for a budget to start out, you can spend less than a thousand a month.

Visit ConcreteTitans.com for more info on Ann Thaxton's marketing services.

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Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs, Business Tips

Ann Thaxton on the Importance of Lead Advertising for Contractors

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Jun 23, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Banner-Lead Advertising for Contractors

Body-Lead Advertising for ContractorsThis article is an excerpt from Episode 7 of Alchemy-Spetec's podcast The Injection Connection, featuring concrete lifting marketing expert Ann Thaxton of ConcreteTitans.com. 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 exchange is posted at the bottom of the article.)

Jim Spiegel: A lot of your expertise is in social media and SEO. Do you offer support in that entire realm of marketing?

Ann Thaxton: I do. I pretty much am a mixed bag, but for home repair industries really the most effective channel of marketing is lead advertising. I'm a big proponent of lead advertising because you get a concrete return on your investment. You get a potential client’s name, phone number, email address and why they're contacting you - maybe their pool deck needs to be raised or they have a parking lot that needs to be leveled. That's what I really push the most with this industry is lead advertising. Not only that but I also really promote the lead nurturing process. So once you get your lead from lead advertising, you start a series of automated emails that go to those people maybe two to three weeks and it educates them on the industry. One of the big things, one of the big challenges of residential concrete lifting is a lot of people don't know that it's a thing. They don't realize that you can repair your concrete rather than replacing it at a fraction of the cost. I think that is a big part of why you need that sort of lead nurturing so people can start getting their brain around – okay, well, how does this work? How do you raise this concrete? And how long does it take? That sort of thing. So yes, I do search engine optimization, SEO, I do websites, I do email nurturing campaigns for leads, lead advertising, some sales training. I look at it as if you take a business that has maybe two rigs and they have two crew that are going out, you start them with the basic lead advertising email nurturing and hopefully you can get somebody on staff that is a customer service person that does nothing but call these leads the second they come in and it helps you build the business from there. A lot of the nurturing I do for the leads is not just emails, it’s occasional texts. It's consistent phone calling until we know if these people are going to convert or if they're not interested. That's what you’re trying to find out from these leads. So lead advertising all the way.

Jim: And are you heavily involved with the social media side of things?

Ann: I believe that you should post on your social media business pages. People do you go there occasionally but the algorithm with that is not what it used to be five years ago even because Facebook is now a public company. They want to make money. So they are not going to show your posts to the people that like your Facebook page unless you put some money behind it really. I do lead advertising on Facebook which is a great platform for educating people on concrete lifting in that it's a real home repair service. I believe in posting maybe a couple times a week but then I also really believe in lead advertising on social media. And then LinkedIn if you want to build your commercial business.

Jim: You're saying lead advertising and excuse my ignorance but essentially you’re talking about the lead capture side of it?

Ann: Yes. So, usually you need to offer something, like maybe a $50 off coupon, $100 off coupon. And they click through, in order to get that coupon, they have to give you their name and information.  Then you send the coupon pretty much immediately and call shortly after that. So that's how that works.

Visit ConcreteTitans.com for more info on Ann Thaxton's marketing services.

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Topics: All Posts, Lift Slabs, Business Tips