Saturday, December 15, 2007

There's Water In My Elevator Pit

Recently one of our sales engineers was faced with the task of helping waterproof an elevator pit. The basic construction of a pedestrian elevator includes a pit 10'-20' below the last floor for counterweights, wiring and a giant hydraulic safety stand. The building this three-stall elevator pit was located in was next to a large rocky limestone hill and about 200' from a river. Wall construction was poured concrete in good to excellent condition.
While the pit was set up with an exposed cove drain tile system around the wall leading to the sump pump the rest of the floor was not protected and over time water was noticed coming through some of the bolt holes drilled into the floor holding up the tracks for the elevator. In addition there were several areas around the seam at the wall and floor that water was creeping through including a larger leak the size of a pencil that water was coming out of in a steady stream.

Using our exclusive bentonite hydroclay injection system the installers at Great Lakes Waterproofing tackled the problem by drilling holes near the leaks and injecting our waterproofing blend of bentonite hydroclay. Right away the flow of water had stopped at the bolt holes. The next step was to waterproof the perimeter, not an easy task as it was flowing over a gallon of water into the sump every minute. Our waterproofing blend of bentonite hydroclay is an all natural product that stays flexible throughout it's lifespan, the self-sealing nature of the clay is perfect for this application that has many dynamic water forces at work.

Once again our waterproofers drilled holes every few feet straight down through the concrete into the sand and water. Working fast to make sure the sump pump was not overwhelmed by the water coming in through the new holes, the Great Lakes Waterproofing Team pumped bentonite waterproofing into all the holes and capped them off with hydraulic cement. for a permanent waterproofing solution.

Another elevator pit we waterproofed contained a large hydraulic lift for it's industrial elevator. Typically the shaft is buried as deep as it's height above the floor, in this case over three stories.
The old lift had started leaking hydraulic fluid and needed to be replaced. The floor around the old shaft was broken out, the new shaft installed and concrete was poured around the new shaft. Several areas of repaired concrete around the new shaft developed leaks. The elevator pit floor was next to a river and 5-10' below the surface of the water, developing a lot of hydrostatic pressure on the exterior of the elevator pit. The pit had 2-3" of water and the sump pump was running continously 24 hours a day.

Once again we drilled through the concrete floor and pumped in our waterproofing blend of bentonite hydroclay. Several areas around the pit needed attention. Once the hydroclay was installed and the pit started to dry we closed all the holes off with hydraulic cement. In addition to drying up the elevator pit, the industrial sump pump is now dormant.

Things are looking good now in these dry elevator pits, this is another example of bentonite waterproofing we can do at a fraction of the cost the other guys charge to divert the water.

Friday, October 26, 2007

When it's Raining We're Not Complaining

Minnesota has a new record, after 107 years we've broken the amount of rainfall for August, September and October with 18.91 inches of rain and October isn't over yet. While most yards are happy with the extra water, homeowners with leaking basements aren't. The Great Lakes Waterproofing Team has been busy waterproofing area houses and taking care of those leaky walls with our hydroclay injection system using Bentonite Clay. The advantage with our process is that we only waterproof the areas that are leaking and not the entire structure. The Bentonite Clay finds it's way into the cracks and holes in your walls, expands and creates a permanent flexible barrier against moisture so in 100 years your basement will still be dry.....

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Why Waterproofing With Plastic Doesn't Work Most of the Time

A few of the Great Lakes Waterproofing Sales Guys have been quoting jobs where the homeowner has already tried to grade the yard so it slopes away from the foundation to help with water issues. Most of the time we encounter a layer of heavy duty plastic with rocks on top and a plastic barrier usually 4-6" tall, place around the perimeter.

It looks great but they wonder why there's still water in the basement. Before the Great Lakes Waterproofers start waterproofing, we have to clear away the rocks to help get our injection equipment in and we usually see the same thing. No prep work has been done on the ground before the plastic sheet and rocks have been laid down. Instead of tamping (compacting) the soil, the plastic is laid upon a somewhat graded area and rocks are laid on top.

The opposite effect has occurred.....the rocks compact the soil around the foundation causing a "funnel" situation, the water builds up on the plastic, is held in by the new barrier and is channeled back to the foundation, making the situation as bad or worse then before. Unfortunately grading away from the house requires a lot of work and professional equipment to be done right or the water issues will be worse. You're not alone if you try to waterproof this way, we see it all the time.

The Great Lakes Waterproofing Injection Method provides a foundation barrier against moisture and can fill in some of the low areas with bentonite clay, preventing water from pooling up in one area.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Great Lakes Waterproofing is Featured in The Villager Newspaper

The Great Lakes Exclusive Hydroclay Injection System has attracted a lot of attention including the guys over at The Villager Newspaper. One of our Sales Engineers, John Howley, was recently interviewed on the best way to waterproof a leaky basement. Follow the link to this fascinating article on protecting your basement agains water.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Facts About Bentonite (Hydroclay)

Great Lakes Waterproofing uses a waterproofing version of Bentonite, here's some information about it's properties and uses.

Sodium bentonite expands when wet, it can absorb several times its dry mass in water.
It is mostly used in drilling mud with drilling rigs for oil & gas wells and for geotechnical & environmental investigations. The property of swelling also makes sodium bentonite useful as a sealant, especially targeted for the sealing of subsurface disposal systems for spent nuclear fuel and for quarantining metal pollutants of groundwater. Similar uses include making slurry walls, waterproofing of below grade walls and forming other impermeable barriers (e.g. to plug old wells or as a liner in the base of landfills to prevent migration of leachate into the soil).

Early Americans found bentonite vital to their lives. Pioneers found moistened bentonite to be an ideal lubricant for squeaky wagon wheels. The mixture was also used as a sealant for log cabin roofing. The Indians found bentonite useful as a soap.

Small amounts of Wyoming bentonite were first commercially mined and developed in the Rock River area during the 1880s. Newer, more substantial deposits were discovered in other parts of Wyoming during the 1920s and the first processing plant in Wyoming was built during this period. Since that time many other processing plants have been built for the purpose of processing Wyoming sodium bentonite. Wyoming's Bentonite industry produced over 4.0 million tons of bentonite in 1999, with 644 mine and mill employees, and 240 contractor employees.
Wyoming bentonite is composed essentially of montmorillonite clay, also known as hydrous silicate of alumina. In more simplistic terms, the structure of bentonite is much like a sandwiched deck of cards. When placed in water, these cards or clay platelets shift apart. Bentonite attracts water to its negative face and magnetically holds the water in place. because of this unique characteristic, Wyoming bentonite is capable of absorbing 7 to 10 times its own weight in water, and swelling up to 18 times its dry volume.

The usefulness of bentonite has been recognized for years for these types of applications. A range of bentonite products have been used for many years as permeability barriers in drainage ditches, livestock pond liners, amendments to pond dams, and even as municipal landfill liners in the form of geosynthetic clay liners. Many of the same bentonite properties that allow it to be used successfully in these applications can be readily extended to decorative water feature markets. In addition, bentonite is a natural geologic product and has a seventy year history of use in a wide array of industrial, environmental, and consumer products.

Drilling mud, or drilling gel, is a major component in the well drilling process. Drilling mud is crucial in the extraction of drill cuttings during the drilling process. Bentonite, when mixed with water, forms a fluid (or slurry) that is pumped through the drill stem, and out through the drill bit. The bentonite extracts the drill cuttings from around the bit, which are then floated to the surface. The drilling mud, or gel, also serves to cool and lubricate the drill bit as well as seal the drill hole against seepage and to prevent wall cave-ins

Taconite, a low grade iron ore, has been developed as an economic source for iron. During processing, the taconite is ground into a very fine powder. The ground taconite is then mixed with small amounts of bentonite which serves as a binder to the taconite. This mixture is processed into balls or pellets. The process is finished when these pellets are sintered in rotary kilns that give the pellets a hard surface. The taconite pellets are easy to handle at this point and can be loaded into various containers for shipment to steel mills.

Bentonite serves as an economical bonding material in the molding processes associated with the metal casting industry. Bentonite, when mixed with foundry molding sands, forms a pliable bond with the sand granules. Impressions are formed into the face of the bentonite/sand mixtures. Molten metal is pored into the impressions at temperatures exceeding 2,800 F. The unique bonding characteristics of bentonite insures the durability of the mold during these high temperatures. Once the process is complete, the bentonite/sand mold can then be broken away from the casting face and reused.

In recent years, bentonite has become a major component in the manufacturing of cat litter. Because of the unique water absorption, swelling, and odor controlling characteristics of bentonite, it is ideal for use in "clumping" types of cat litters. Clumping cat litter has become widely accepted as an economical alternative to conventional non-clumping type cat litters. Because bentonite forms clumps when wet, the clumps can easily be removed and disposed of. The remainder of the unused material stays intact and can continue to be used. clumping cat box litters will last longer with less frequency of changing.

For many years bentonite has been used as a binder in the feed pelletizing industry. Small amounts of bentonite can be added to feed products to insure tougher, more durable pellets. By absorbing excess moisture and oils, bentonite aids in the free movement of pellets, preventing lumping and caking. Research has been conducted which indicates that bentonite has additional benefits for both animals and poultry. The bentonite used in the feed slows the digestive system and enables the animal or fowl to better utilize the feed nutrients. Other studies have shown bentonite as a useful ingredient in the control of certain toxins which affect animals and fowl.

Have you ever wondered how your favorite white wine gets so clear and shiny? That brilliant sheen comes from removing large particles of protein and suspended solids that can cause a wine to go cloudy in the bottle, especially when the wine is exposed to heat. The winemaker actually adds bentonite to attract proteins and clarify the wine! The term used in winemaking is fining.

Bentonite has also proved helpful in sealing freshwater ponds, irrigation ditches, reservoirs, sewage and industrial water lagoons, and in grouting permeable ground. In addition, it has been used in detergents, fungicides, sprays, cleansers, polishes, ceramic, paper, cosmetics and applications where its unique bonding, suspending or gellant properties are required

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How The Homeowner Can Help

The first question we get asked is "how can I help?" While the Great Lakes Waterproofing System works in nearly all applications, there are steps that can be taken to help insure that the basement dries up completely. The most common problem is improper drainage away from the structure, make sure gutters are attached properly and the extensions are long enough to clear all obstructions including patios, sidewalks, trees, etc.
For a typical mid-size house 1/2" of rain on the roof will be over 150 gallons of water, some houses only have two downspouts so over 75 gallons of water could be concentrated in one area. This is why it's crucial that the water is channeled away from the structure and not left to saturate into the ground near the foundation. Our experience has shown that even placing plastic on the ground around the house does little to channel the water away if other steps are not taken first.

Another place overlooked is the window wells. The gravel should be at least 4" thick and about 8" below the window. Over time debris builds up in the wells and if not cleaned out will provide water an easy entrance between the window frame and the wall.

Last but not least, observe the concrete and pavers around the house. Over time these will settle (usually sloping towards the house) providing a funnel of water right into the basement. Look for the tell-tale signs of dirt and sand built up on the concrete or pavers. Although expensive, replacing the concrete with a surface that slopes away from the structure might be one of the solutions. Proper surfaces should be slightly above the ground with a slight slope away from any structures.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Types Of Walls

Most of our work involves waterproofing structural walls. Using our injection equipment we saturate the ground with our Hydroclay which fills the voids and fissures that have formed over time allowing water to build up and enter your structure.

The most common walls we encounter are block, which can be hollow cinderblocks or an older solid block both which need a concrete mortar for a binder, or poured walls which are constructed by using a form on each side and concrete is poured in the middle. The form acts as a mold preventing the concrete from spreading out. Newer style forms are made up of a styrofoam panel connected with tie-rods and are meant to stay in the ground. Older style forms are reusable but still use tie-rods to hold together so "blow-out" doesn't occur.

The mortar and the tie-rods are usually the first things to go. Mortar has a limited life span and can start deteriorating within years of applying and is greatly accelerated by moisture. The metal tie-rods that hold both sides of your poured-wall forms together have to be left in the concrete. When in contact with moisture they rust out and leave a pathway for water intrusion.

The Great Lakes Waterproofing Method works in almost all of these situations. Once injected it fills in cracks and openings in the wall preventing further moisture penetration.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Waterproofing With Bentonite

For over 30 years Great Lakes Waterproofing has been providing one of the most exciting waterproofing methods for home and business owners. Using our exclusive technology we inject a waterproofing blend of bentonite clay into the area around the basement floor and walls. In most cases this can be done from outside with nearly no damage to the existing ground cover. Once the Bentonite Hydroclay has saturated the ground, filled in voids and small cracks in the concrete walls, it begins to absorb water and solidify to a consistency similar to peanut butter providing a permanent barrier against water.  If your construction is new or you've exposed the wall we can apply benonite panels and membranes directly to the wall giving you the best waterproofing possible 

While methods such as filling cracks with mortar, applying an epoxy-base paint or a drain-tile type system help with diverting water, they all have one similar yet critical component...They still let the water through the wall before it gets stopped. The damage this causes to the wall continues as long as the water is present. Settling of the wall and mortar damage on block wall will continue requiring on-going maintenance.
Our method of waterproofing has been successful in many different applications, our blog will have case studies on several of these applications and the questions we encounter from time to time.