Concrete is a versatile, long-lasting, sustainable and durable building material. It even outperforms wood as a construction material because it’s cost-effective, resists weathering and it’s built to last (rated at a 100 year service life).
Despite all of these positives, very strong wear and exceptional weather can lead to damage to the integrity of concrete buildings and structures. Concrete refurbishment and hydrodemolition, a safe and efficient process that’s been around for more than 30 years, is the most cost effective solution.
Aquachem represents WOMA, a world-class leader in high pressure pumps and water blasting equipment, in the Canadian marketplace.
What is Hydrodemolition?
Hydrodemolition, also known as water blasting, water jetting and hydroblasting, is a concrete removal process that works by using ultra high pressure water blasting to cut away damaged or otherwise unsound concrete.
The elegance of water blasting concrete using hydrodemolition equipment instead of the older mechanical tools, like the jackhammer or chiseling, is that water blasting doesn’t produce the damaging tremors and vibrations that so often cause microfractures in the surrounding “good” concrete.
These destructive vibrations can go deep into the structure being repaired, especially so in reinforced concrete as the vibrations travel along the rebar supports, damaging the structure’s integrity and ultimately reducing the service life of the rest of the structure.
Hydrodemolition also provides a better bonding surface for repair work, roughly 50% better actually, by creating a “craggy” profile that makes an ideal texture for bonding newly poured concrete. Jackhammers and pneumatic hammers, by contrast, create smoother breaks in the concrete that don’t make good bonding points and ultimately don’t last as long before needing repairs and refurbishment again.
Another benefit to using hydrodemolition for concrete refurbishment is that, while absolutely devastating to concrete, the process leaves steel rebar unblemished (in fact the rebar will end up cleaned and devoid of rust and scale!).
This amazing benefit is entirely due to the selectivity of the water force. This is useful when the steel rebar reinforcement in reinforced concrete corrodes over time due to exposure to water through cracks. In order to preserve the structural integrity of the structure, renovation is imperative.
High pressure water blasting allows for removal of the concrete above the rebar, cutting and removal of the affected rebar, and then repair on an ideal bonding surface.
Unique to hydrodemolition is the ease with which repairs can be completed on horizontal, vertical, overhead and even underwater concrete slabs. By dialing in the water force to protect important parts/structures that may be adjacent to or embedded in the concrete being repaired one can also remove concrete from around conduits, shear studs and other embedded steel elements without fear of damaging them.
This is certainly not true when using a jackhammer! This is one reason why hydrodemolition is used on so many different types of structures including tunnels, dams, parking structures, buildings, pads, home foundations and substructures.
From an environmental perspective, hydrodemolition is cleaner and more sustainable than traditional concrete rehabilitation and removal processes. No dust, which can be made up of chemical sealants, paints and other compounds, is kicked up when compared to jackhammers and pneumatic hammers.
Blasting with water is also significantly quieter, almost negligible, which reduces noise pollution. Finally, the waste water used in the water jetting process can very easily be collected and filtered. This prevents contamination of the local environment.
If the benefits above weren’t enough, hydrodemolition is also much faster than using a jackhammer, in some cases 20 or 25 times faster, and the process produces significantly less noise. This is a huge benefit when working in residential areas where a speedy repair and a quieter environment are paramount.