Using hydrodemolition to fix five common concrete errors

Using hydrodemolition to fix five common concrete errors

Pouring concrete is a complex process. One slight miscalculation on any of the numerous variables can spoil a whole batch. And unfortunately, mistakes aren’t always evident right away, which can put timetables and budgets at risk. Fortunately, advances in robotic concrete removal methods are making them easier to fix — without demolishing everything and starting over. For large, multi-phase construction projects, Hydrodemolition offers a fast, cost-effective solution that can minimize the overall impact of concrete errors — often getting contractors back on track for on-time project delivery.

For large, multi-phase construction projects, Hydrodemolition offers a fast, cost-effective solution that can minimize the overall impact of concrete errors — often getting contractors back on track for on-time project delivery. Images courtesy of Aquajet

Here are five common concrete errors Hydrodemolition can help solve.

#1 – Formwork Failure

Whether it’s a minor shift or a full-on blowout, formwork failures can spell disaster in terms of lost productivity, since correcting it often relies on handheld equipment. There are several downsides to this approach. First, it’s slow, backbreaking work that takes a huge physical toll on crewmembers. Additionally, heavy vibrations damage rebar and leave microfractures throughout the remaining concrete, which leaves contractors with no choice but to demolish most, if not all, of the structure.

Hydrodemolition is an impact-free concrete removal method that is up to 25 times faster than jackhammers and other handheld equipment. Using high-pressure water jets as powerful as 40,000 psi, Hydrodemolition blasts away layers of concrete, cleaning and descaling rebar in the process. This method also virtually eliminates the risk of microfractures, creating a structurally sound foundation for any necessary concrete repairs. This high-tech, robotic solution also minimizes labor requirements, freeing up the rest of the crew to focus on other tasks — like getting concrete forms back in place — to keep the job on schedule.

For one contractor dealing with a formwork shift on a small overpass project, Hydrodemolition provided an ideal solution. While part of the pour met specifications, the contractor needed to remove part of the deck and abutment to a depth of 3 feet (.9 meters) and repour to correct the shift. Reaching the necessary depth with jackhammers wasn’t possible without destroying rebar and overall structural integrity. Using Hydrodemolition, the contractor was able to complete removal with minimal impact on the structure.

#2 – Concrete Segregation

Hydrodemolition is an impact-free concrete removal method that is up to 25 times faster than jackhammers and other handheld equipment, increasing productivity.

Another contractor relied on Hydrodemolition’s selective removal capabilities to help solve a difficult concrete segregation problem. When water infiltrated the forms and washed out the cement paste, leaving just the aggregate behind, the contractor was able to set parameters for the Hydrodemolition robot that removed just the segregated material. The sound concrete was left intact and ready for repair.

Let’s face it, a breaker doesn’t have a lot of finesse. In addition to damaging rebar and causing microfractures, this method can’t differentiate between segregated and sound concrete. In cases of obvious segregation, this might not be as much of a concern. But when removing poor-quality concrete in close proximity to good concrete, it might result in contractors removing too much or too little material.

Hydrodemolition robots allow contractors to adjust the robot’s stroke to control the depth of cuts and vary the pressure of the water jet depending on whether they are removing loose, deteriorated concrete or lowering the sound concrete to a pre-determined depth. This enables pinpoint accuracy in concrete segregation and bleeding situations. Once the parameters are set, the robot meticulously maneuvers over the designated area, removing material according to set values. Jackhammers and other methods cannot match this precision.

#3 – Off-Spec Embedded Materials

Using Hydrodemolition’s selective removal capabilities, contractors can remove only the poor-quality material, leaving the sound concrete intact and ready for repair.

Sometimes the concrete error isn’t a result of the concrete mixture itself. In situations where off-spec materials such as rebar or anchors need to be removed from set concrete, Hydrodemolition provides the power and precision necessary for fast, efficient removal.

In addition to setting parameters for stroke and pressure, cutting-edge Hydrodemolition robots can be programmed to cut geometric shapes. This allows contractors to remove just enough material to reach the embedded item, whether it’s just below the surface or several feet down.

For example, one contractor discovered they needed to replace bolts on anchors embedded 3.3 feet (1 meter) into the concrete. To reach that depth with a jackhammer would require a large hole — not to mention the resulting microfractures and damage to rebar and anchor. With a Hydrodemolition robot, they were able to cut circular holes — just big enough to free the anchors — minimizing removal and increasing efficiency of the repair project. The contractor was able to correct 12 to 15 anchors in 12 hours using a Hydrodemolition robot.

#4 – Concrete Repairs to Existing Structures

Hydrodemolition also provides an efficient solution for fixing concrete errors in existing structures. For example, one contractor tasked with removing an 8-foot-thick concrete pier on an active construction site for a hydropower plant was able to remove 4,944 cubic feet (140 cubic meters) in just 53 days, averaging 141 cubic feet (4 cubic meters) in a 12-hour shift. Once the demolition was complete, the contractor poured new concrete onto the superior bonding surface created by the Hydrodemolition process.

Hydrodemolition creates a cleaner surface than other methods, eliminating the need for additional steps, such as sandblasting after using a jackhammer. These combined factors create the perfect condition for superior bonding strength, resulting in repairs that can last up to three times longer.

Hydrodemolition robots can be programmed to cut shapes, allowing contractors to to precisely cut out an exact area based on their specifications.

#5 – Compressive Strength Failure

By now it should be pretty clear that Hydrodemolition is the ideal solution for concrete fixes that require productivity and precision. And nowhere is that more necessary than when facing compressive strength failure. Once a failure has been identified, Hydrodemolition allows contractors to quickly go in and remove only the weak material without damaging rebar or jeopardizing the structural integrity of the remaining concrete. When removal is complete, workers are left with a superior bonding surface that will provide a lasting correction.

Concrete errors can happen to anyone. Being ready with a fast, cost-effective solution allows forward-thinking contractors to maintain productivity in the face of unexpected delays.

Independent pull-off tests have shown that the bonding strength of Hydrodemolition is much higher than what’s achieved with a jackhammer or mechanical method, resulting in repairs that can last up to three times longer.

 

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