Soil erosion under buildings with slab foundations presents a major structural challenge. Such was the case at the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center, a rock climbing destination in West Virginia. Soil was eroding away from beneath the building's foundation, leading to tripping hazards as the floor buckled. There were basically two options for dealing with this: replace the floor or repair it.
Repairing the Floor with TerraThane Foam
The U.S. Forestry Service, who was responsible for the Discovery Center, opted to repair the floor. They chose was TerraThane, a geotechnical polyurethane foam that could be inserted under the concrete floor to fill the gaps and even out the concrete slabs.
The project was a simple one. In just 3 1/2 days, the construction team drilled small, 5/8-inch holes in the concrete slabs, pumped in the TerraThane, and added some new drainage systems to prevent future erosion. Cleanup was a breeze, and the building's important service was not disrupted.
Results of the TerraThane Repair
The results of the repairs were remarkable, especially considering how simple the process was:
- The floor was made level again, eliminating the tripping hazards that presented danger to visitors before.
- Less weight is placed on the soil than if concrete material had been used to fill in the gaps. This translates to less erosion in the future.
- The repairs were affordable, especially when compared to the cost of replacing the concrete slabs entirely.
- Using TerraThane foam did not create a large mess or heavy construction equipment. The Discovery Center did not even have to close while the project was taking place.
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