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Epoxy injection

welds cracks back together

But materials and methods must be right for the job

ithin minutes, epoxy can
be injected 9 feet deep in-
to cracks as small as 0.002
inch wide. Within hours, this same
epoxy will surpass the compressive
and tensile strengths of the sur-
rounding concrete. Such effective
and easily attained results make
epoxy injection one of the most
common ways of repairing narrow
c ra c k s. It has been used to repair
cracks in buildings, bridges and
dams. To achieve such good results,
though, requires proper materials
and injection techniques and an
understanding of what epoxy injec- Low viscosity, insensitivity to moisture, high bond strength and compressive and
tensile strengths higher than those of concrete make epoxy injection one of the
tion can and cannot do.
most effective ways of repairing narrow cracks. Repairs are made by sealing the
The limitations surface of the crack, then injecting epoxy into it through ports spaced along the
Epoxy injection alone cannot
solve every crack problem. If a crack
is an active crack which continues tive to water. While moist cracks can e p ox y, the great amount of heat
to open or close, then the cause of be injected, contaminants in the that’s produced can cause the epoxy
the crack movement must be re- crack, including water, will reduce to boil or froth. To avoid this, seve ra l
moved or a control joint must be the effectiveness of typical epoxies. manufacturers have developed spe-
constructed in the area of the crack. If structural repair of the crack is not cial low-heat formulations for these
Ot h e rw i s e, the concrete will crack necessary, the best way to seal active applications. Large voids can also be
again nearby after the crack is in- leaks is by injecting a chemical injected with a flowable epoxy mor-
jected. Howe ve r, if the active crack grout (such as the polyurethane tar, or they can be prepacked with
causes no aesthetic harm, it can be grout described in the June 1984 is- graded aggregate then injected with
sealed instead with a low-modulus sue of Concrete Construction, page epoxy.
epoxy or other sealant which would 594). See Reference 1 for more infor-
mation. How to select an epoxy for
allow the crack to act as a control crack injection
joint. Normally, the low-viscosity epox-
Cracks which are actively leaking ies used in crack injection are not Epoxies used to inject cracks in
and cannot be dried out should not used to repair wide cracks or voids. concrete should meet the require-
be injected with epoxy unless the Low-viscosity epoxies are hard to ments for Type I epoxies described
epoxy is formulated to be insensi- confine. With larger volumes of in ASTM C 881 (Reference 2). Type I
Types of epoxies for bonding be insensitive to moisture. Pot life, low-viscosity resin that provides
hardened concrete to minimum curing temperature, and maximum wetting action. On archi-
hardened concrete color are also concerns. For the tectural concrete, cracks may be
most part, once epoxies have cured sealed with wax but low pressure in-
Grade 1 Maximum the only variation in performance is jection procedures must be fol-
viscosity 20 poises in the amount of elongation they lowed.
Grade 2 Minimum can withstand. Unmodified epoxies 3. INSTALL THE ENTRY PORTS.
viscosity 20 poises permit less than 1 percent tensile Use one of these three ways:
Maximum elongation, but the more common-
viscosity 100 poises • Fittings inserted in drilled holes.
ly used modified epoxies permit 1 to Drill a l⁄2- or 3⁄4-inch-diameter hole
Grade 3 Maximum
consistency 1
⁄4 inch 5 percent. Flexural, tensile and com- 1
⁄2 to 1 inch below the bottom of
Class A For use below 40 ° F p re s s i ve strengths are usually not the V-shaped groove cut into the
Class B For use between 40° important because they almost al- crack. Then insert a pipe nipple,
and 60° F ways exceed the values attainable by tire valve stem or plastic injection
Class C For use above 60° F concrete. port in the hole and bond it with
Minimum gel time 30 minutes Cracked concrete that remains at an epoxy adhesive. Patented ny-
Bond strength high temperatures must be injected lon fittings used in one project
2 days with epoxy that can withstand these
(dry cure) 2000 psi high temperatures without soften-
14 days ing. The heat deflection temperature
(moist cure) 2000 psi
(HDT) is a measure of a plastic’s
Maximum 24-hour
absorption 1.5 percent ability to perform at elevated tem-
Shrinkage Passes peratures. Some epoxies now avail-
ASTM C 883 able have HDTs greater than 150 de-
grees F (Reference 4).
Figure 1. Width of the crack and
temperature of the concrete affect The procedure
which grade and class of epoxy to Cracks as narrow as 0.002 inch
use, as specified by ASTM C 881-78, can be bonded by epoxy injection.
“Standard Specification for Epoxy- The epoxy is injected under pres-
Resin-Base Bonding Systems for
sure into holes drilled at close inter-
Concrete” (Reference 2).
vals along the crack. The procedure
Figure 2. T-shaped injection ports can
involves the following steps, based be bonded over the top of the crack
on those originally described in Ref- without drilling holes. Injection ports
epoxies are designed for bonding erence 5. should be spaced so epoxy entering
hardened concrete to hardened 1. CLEAN THE CRACKS. Clean a l- one port penetrates the desired
concrete. Three grades based on vis- inch-wide strip of concrete on each amount before flowing out the next
cosity and consistency and three side of the crack and remove any port.
classes based on the range of tem- contamination in the crack by flush-
peratures for which they are suitable ing it out with high-pressure water.
are available (see Figure 1). Then blow out the water with com- could carry 900 to 1200 psi capac-
Viscosity is the property which pressed air or allow adequate time ity even before the sealer was
can most affect the ease and extent for air drying or use a weed burner placed over the crack (Reference
of injection. Lower viscosity epoxies to accelerate drying. 6). A vacuum chuck and bit or a
are thinner and can penetrate 2. SEAL THE SURFACE OF EACH hollow carbide spade bit with a
smaller cracks. Viscosity is mea- CRACK. Brush a paste-like epoxy or special flushing swivel can help
sured in centipoises (cps). Very fine polyester over the surface of each remove the dust produced by
cracks 0.010 inch wide or smaller crack and allow it to harden. This drilling.
should be injected with an epoxy of p re vents the liquid epoxy that is in-
500 cps (lightweight oil) or less (Ref- jected into the crack from leaking • Bonded flush fitting. If the cracks
erence 3). The viscosity of water, in out before it has gelled. If extremely are not V-grooved, a T-shaped fit-
comparison, is 100 cps. high injection pressures are needed, ting can be set over the crack and
While viscosity is important, it is cut out the crack in a V-shape, fill it bonded to the surrounding con-
not the only important property. Be- with epoxy and strike it off flush crete (see Figure 2).
cause moisture is present in many with the surface. Bond strength of • Interruption in seal. Fittings are
faults and is usually difficult to re- the epoxy seal can be enhanced by not required when an injection
move, the epoxy that’s used should first priming the concrete with a gun with a special gasket at the
nozzle is used. Ports are provided port until back pressure was experi- to use. Multiple component pumps
instead by simply omitting the enced, even if this did not occur un- provide the highest injection rates
seal over parts of the crack. The til after epoxy appeared in seve ra l but cost from $4000 to $8000. They
gasket allows the gun to inject other ports. The appearance of are commonly used by contractors
epoxy directly into the crack with- epoxy in an adjacent port only specializing in concrete repair.
out leaking. showed for certain that epoxy had
flowed from one hole to the next, Quality control
In general, the finer the crack, the
closer the entry ports should be not how deeply it had penetrated Pump pressure and mix ratio
spaced. Howe ve r, enough distance the crack. By continuing injection should be tested at regular intervals
should be left between ports to as- until back pressure was experienced but not less than once a day. The
sure that the epoxy injected into one at the pump, thorough penetration contractor should also record which
port will penetrate the desired of the epoxy was achieved on this cracks are injected and any perti-
amount before flowing out the next project. nent data obtained from quality
port. As a rule of thumb, the entry For horizontal cracks, the injec- control checks.
ports should be spaced at a distance tion should proceed from one end Proper mixing can be determined
equal to the desired penetration of of the crack to the other in the same somewhat by simply checking the
the epoxy but not exceeding the manner. When the pressure can be material for uniformity of color or
thickness of the concrete or 12 inch- maintained the crack is full. Howev- lack of swirling. For a final check, to
es, whichever is less. For cracks less er, many horizontal cracks are on be performed at the start of each
than 0.01 inch wide, the spacing g ra d e. Some of the epoxy injected shift, a small sample of epoxy 1⁄4 inch
should not exceed 6 inches and into the crack will drain into the thick can be poured into a paper
p re f e rably not 4 inches (Re f e re n c e ground, leaving a void in the upper cup or a l⁄4 -inch-diameter test tube.
3). If epoxy flow is good, injection portion of the crack. To compensate The inspector can use this sample to
isn’t necessary at all ports; the inter- for the problem, the crack must be check for color uniformity and per-
mediate ports can be used to moni- reinjected until the crack is full and form a Shore D hardness test if re-
tor penetration. remains full. Vertical cracks must be quired.
4. MIX THE EPOXY. Epoxy may be reinjected, too, if the epoxy drains In more critical applications, ul-
premixed or mixed in line. In pre- out of the crack. This could happen trasonic pulse velocity measure-
mixing, the two epoxy components in a retaining wall or basement wall ments can be taken during injection
are premixed according to the man- which could not be sealed on one to determine when the maximum
ufacturer’s instructions, usually with side due to the earth backfill, or in crack filling has been achieved. Af-
a mechanical stirrer like a paint mix- the wall of a swimming pool, or ter the epoxy has hardened, random
ing paddle. In continuous in-line even in a foundation wall with ac- cores can be drilled through the re-
mixing, the two liquid components cess to both sides but not to the bot- paired cracks to visually evaluate
are premeasured and pumped tom of the wall. crack filling.
through an automatic mixing head. 6. REMOVE THE SURFACE SEAL.
After the injected epoxy has cured, A final note: critical repairs re-
5. INJECT THE EPOXY. Select the
the entry ports should be removed quire a repair contractor
injection pressure carefully. More
pressure may accelerate the rate of and the holes should be painted For an enduring crack repair us-
injection but it also may cause more with an epoxy patching compound. ing epoxy injection, equipment,
damage. Unless appearance of the repair is materials and procedures must be
For vertical cracks, Reference 5 not a concern, the surface sealer considered carefully and a strong
suggests beginning epoxy injection should be removed by grinding or quality control program should be
in the lowest entry port. When the other appropriate means. followed. With on-site support from
epoxy level reaches the next entry a knowledgeable epoxy supplier and
Equipment dispenser manufacturer most re-
port above, the lower injection port
is capped and the process is repeat- Paint pressure pots can be used to pairs will be satisfactory. Sophisti-
ed at successively higher ports until inject premixed epoxy or premixed cated repairs, though, should be
the crack has been completely filled. epoxy grout. Hydraulic pumps with done only by contractors who spe-
Howe ve r, on one project (Reference a mixing head that mixes the epoxy cialize in epoxy injection.
6), the contractor began injection for injection are commonly used. Epoxy injection can be an easy
where the crack was broadest in the Which type of equipment a contrac- and effective way to repair cracks,
belief that it is easier to fill a fine tor chooses depends on job condi- but if done wrong the bad repair
crack from a wider segment of the tions, costs and personal prefer- may be irre p a ra b l e. There’s simply
fault than the re ve r s e. Drainage in ence. Both are effective. The air no easy way to remove epoxy from
this case was reportedly not a factor. p re s s u re pot can be purchased for cracks.
The epoxy was injected through a as little as $125 but is extremely slow
1. Waring, S. T., “Chemical Grouting of
Water-Bearing Cracks,” Concrete In-
ternational, August 1986, pages 16-
2. “Standard Specification for Epoxy-
Resin-Base Bonding Systems for Con-
crete,” ASTM C 881-78 (Reapproved
1983), Annual Book of ASTM Stan-
dards, Volume 04.02, pages 568-572,
American Society for Testing and Ma-
terials, 1916 Race Street, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania 19103.
3. Murray, Myles A., “Welding Cracked
Concrete with Epoxy Injection,” Plant
Engineering, October 15, 1981, pages
4. Guedelhoefer, O. C., and A. T.
Krauklis, “To Bond or Not To Bond,”
Concrete International, August 1986,
pages 10-15.
5. ACI Committee 224, “Causes, Eval-
uation, and Repair of Cracks in Con-
crete Structures,” ACI Journal, May-
June 1984, pages 211-230, American
Concrete Institute, Box 19150, Detroit,
Michigan 48219.
6. Trout, John E, and Silvio Santange-
lo, “Epoxy Injects New Life into Bridge
Pier,” Concrete International, August
1986, pages 39-43.

Editor’s note
For a review of the other ways of re-
pairing cracks described in Reference
5, read “How to fix cracks” in the Jan-
uary 1985 issue of Concrete Construc-
tion, pages 37-44.

Copyright © 1987, The Aberdeen Group
All rights reserved