HSI Services, Inc. has 20+ years of experience in water management

What Are Water-Filled Dams and How Do They Work?

What Are Water-Filled Dams and How Do They Work?

What Are Water-Filled Dams and How Do They Work?

The process of dewatering worksites has been part of the construction industry for decades. Since it’s such a crucial part of building various structures, the process of dewatering and technology innovations have improved with time. One of the more recent professional improvements and arguably one of the better ones was the introduction of water-filled dams, otherwise known as inflatable cofferdams.

Not sure how a water-filled construction dam is designed to work? Find the engineering details here. #HSIServices #AquaBarrier Click To Tweet

Inflatable cofferdams eliminate extra work, waste, and time that would otherwise be required to remove water from the worksite. They also provide far more effective protection against remaining water than typical construction dams are known to. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly makes up a water-inflated dam and how it works so well.

Anatomy of the Aqua-Barrier

The Aqua-Barrier consists of two large chambers separated by an internal baffle. As the chambers are pumped full of water from the construction site, the baffle begins to experience more pressure on the opposite side from the remaining water. This forces the baffle to lean forward at about a 45-degree angle to the ground, facing the construction site and creating a watertight seal along the bottom. While the Aqua-Barrier’s baffle does require some exposure above the water to prevent runoff, the internal balancing system is proven to work very well in a variety of conditions.

Pro Tip: Watch a cofferdam in action with AquaComp, our free computer program to help you find the Aqua-Barrier your construction site needs!

Installing an Inflatable Cofferdam

During construction projects near water, you’ll be dealing with either stationary water or a slight current. The Aqua-Barrier works in both, but both circumstances require slightly different installation. At its most basic, a moving water installation requires lowering the deflated Aqua-Barrier into the water from above using heavy equipment. A standing water installation, on the other hand, allows the crew to simply unroll the cofferdam at the desired location in the water. Visit our information pages on proper installation for more details.

How to Get One

We offer cofferdams for sale as a permanent addition to your toolbox. However, we also offer rental services for onetime projects or companies interested in taking our equipment for a trial run before purchasing. Contact us to start the process of finding the right Aqua-Barrier size and type for your project.

An Excellent Engineering Advancement

To the construction industry, few things matter more than safety. When it comes to construction near the water, safety is even more crucial as worksites need flood protection and dewatering constantly. That’s just one of many reasons why water-filled dams, and the Aqua-Barrier in particular, are such excellent inventions for the construction field.

Join the conversation to learn more about our water-filled dams and other construction safety products.

Dewatering 101: Complete Guide to Cofferdams

Dewatering 101: Complete Guide to Cofferdams

Caissons, cofferdams, inflatable water dams–what are these terms and how do they relate to your construction project? To stay ahead in your construction progress and successfully complete your work, having a dewatering solution is key. Get the inside look of one of the best inventions in water construction with our guide to cofferdams. 

Learn everything you need to know about construction cofferdams with this complete guide to prepare your worksites! Click To Tweet

If you’re having to repair a bridge, water is a large factor in your project. Without a way to control water currents or flooding, the quality and safety of your worksite could be in danger. The process of dewatering has experienced many advancements throughout the years. With the modern cofferdam, construction crews don’t have to worry about flooding or soil erosion in their water-based projects.

What are Cofferdams?

Dating back to the days of Persia in 539 B.C., cofferdams have been used in construction for centuries. Cofferdams are watertight enclosures that are temporarily placed in bodies of water to create dry worksites. Today’s cofferdam may be designed with different materials, but the goal is the same: control water flow. Whether you’re building near water or preparing for a flood, cofferdams are a great alternative to sandbags.  

Pro Tip: Stop spending a fortune on one-time use cofferdams. Invest in an Aqua-Barrier, the redesigned water control solution that can be reused.

Types of Cofferdams

Depending on the building project, there are different types of cofferdams to consider. Braced cofferdams are designed with single-walled steel sheet piles driven into the water, and cellular cofferdams have double-walled piles that may be filled with clay or sand. Inflatable water dams, in contrast, are made of vinyl material and use the water to create a barrier. Depending on the variable of the specific construction project, the appropriate type of cofferdam may vary from project to project.

Construction Applications

Unlike caissons that are installed permanently in water, cofferdams are temporary structures that allow for new construction or maintenance repair. Cofferdams give construction crews the ability to perform their job without water getting in the way. The most common construction applications include:

Best Tool for Water Construction Sites

In construction, water can wreck a project without warning. For construction sites found near bodies of water, it’s crucial to be one step ahead of water damage. Compared to sheet pile cofferdams used in the past, inflatable dams offer a number of advantages for your water projects. If you’re looking for a dewatering solution that can be easily reused, transported, and installed, look no further than the AquaBarrier cofferdam.

Connect with our team to learn more about cofferdams, cofferdam design, and the wide range of cofferdam applications.

Caisson vs. Cofferdam: What’s the Difference?

Caisson vs. Cofferdam: What’s the Difference?

When building a bridge or any other structure in water, a dewatering solution is crucial to completing the project successfully. All dewatering methods are essentially the same, specifically to create a dry work environment. There are, however, differences to note when examining a caisson vs. cofferdam. Becoming familiar with these terms will help you and your team choose the best solution for your next project.

Ever heard of a caisson? As much as it might sound like a cofferdam, understanding the differences is crucial for your next project. Learn more here. Click To Tweet

Yes, there really is a difference between caissons and cofferdams. While construction novices may use the terms interchangeably, each has unique characteristics. Knowing the differences and how they apply to your construction project will ultimately improve the success of your project.

Caisson vs. Cofferdam: What's the Difference?, AquaBarrier, Houston, TX

Defining Caissons

A caisson is a box-like structure that is permanently fixed within the water table of engineering projects. They are primarily used in the construction of bridges, piers, or similar structures. Depending on the size and scope of the project, there are three different caissons used most commonly.

  1. Open Caissons – Timber, steel, or concrete box that is open at the top and bottom of the structure. The walls are generally heavy and pumped with reinforced concrete to ensure a dry area.
  2. Box Caissons – Watertight boxes usually composed of timber or concrete that are open at the top. They are generally floated to the specific area and then sunk into place with a masonry pier. 
  3. Pneumatic Caissons – Primarily used in underwater construction, these boxes are closed at the top and open at the bottom. Water is pushed out during the sinking process by using compressed air.

Defining Cofferdams

In comparison, cofferdams are temporary structures that are installed to divert water away from worksites. Cofferdams are most commonly used in new construction works or short-term maintenance projects of shallow bridges, piers, or boat ramps. Traditional cofferdams are filled with concrete or rock to restrict nearby water or river flow. Comparatively, inflatable cofferdams use water pumps to inflate themselves and create a temporary dam.

Pro Tip: AquaBarrier cofferdams are not only environmentally-friendly but easy to install. Save time and money by choosing a dewatering solution that your whole crew can use.

Caisson vs. Cofferdam

Not all building projects are created equal. With that being said, where a cofferdam could be installed, a caisson may not be applicable. Both caissons and cofferdams are watertight structures that can be used in the construction of submerged water areas.

The difference, however, lies within the scope of the project. Caissons are permanent structures found in the initial design construction, whereas cofferdams are temporary structures installed for necessary repairs or maintenance.

Solutions for Your Work Area

Are you building a bridge or pier near a large body of water? Do you have a preferred dewatering solution? High water levels could impede your project’s timeline so it’s crucial to prepare your worksite in advance. Whether it’s a caisson or cofferdam, choose the right water control solution for your next project.

Connect with our experienced sales team to learn why the AquaBarrier inflatable water dam is an excellent alternative to traditional cofferdams.

Top 5 Uses of Cofferdams: Highlighting Inflatable Dams

Top 5 Uses of Cofferdams: Highlighting Inflatable Dams

Understanding the history of cofferdams directly relates to how dewatering solutions are used today. From bridges to canals, the introduction of cofferdams in construction provided a solution for building structures near large depths of water. With the varied uses of cofferdams, we now have the ability to create dry worksites quickly and efficiently for any construction project.

Building a bridge? Repairing a pool? See how the #AquaBarrier inflatable cofferdam can help you create the dry area needed for construction. Click To Tweet

Top Uses for an Inflatable Cofferdam

If you’re building or handling equipment near a body of water, it’s crucial for you to control the flow and location of the water. Without a proper dewatering tool, your worksite could suffer from erosion, damage, and in severe cases, complete destruction. Cofferdams can be used in a number of applications, but the following five are some of the most common in construction.

  1. Bridges
  2. Pipelines
  3. Boat Ramps
  4. Pool & Waterpark Maintenance
  5. Canals/Culverts

1) Bridges

Despite the force of water currents, cofferdams have been used quite often in the construction of bridges. By establishing an enclosed area within the water, builders can build or repair the road connection without fear of flooding.

2) Pipelines

Digging underground to install large pipelines can create a myriad of issues, but water doesn’t have to be one of them. With a cofferdam, you can create a secure single wall against water from the ground up. Whether you’re installing a new pipeline or repairing an existing line, the cofferdam is a perfect solution for keeping water at bay.

3) Boat Ramps

When building a boat ramp, there’s a great need for removing water from the site location. Cofferdams can be used to create a dry worksite to fit the needs of your project. Inflatable cofferdams are an excellent solution for flood protection.

Pro Tip: Save time and money by using an Aqua-Barrier Inflatable Dam for your next boat ramp project, with the capability to work in water up to 6 feet deep.

4) Pool & Waterpark Maintenance

To save time and conserve water, a temporary cofferdam is a great solution for pool or waterpark repairs. AquaBarrier, in particular, is a water-filled cofferdam that is installed in your pool to create a dry work area without having to drain any water.

5) Canals/Culverts

Unlike most construction projects, canals and culverts are designed with water control in mind. That being said, necessary repairs on culvert concrete or surrounding areas can be weakened if the water isn’t routed in another direction. Cofferdams provide a way for construction workers to get their job done without having to worry about water getting in the way.

Dewatering Solutions Designed for You

Compared to doubled walled cofferdams or rock-filled sheet piles driven into the ground, the AquaBarrier is an affordable solution for projects requiring dewatering. With various dimension sizes and easy handling, it is a water control solution recommended in many construction applications.

Do you need a dewatering solution? Connect with our sales associates to customize an inflatable cofferdam for your next project.

3 Most Common Types of Cofferdams

3 Most Common Types of Cofferdams

Construction building near water poses a number of challenges. Whether you’re building a bridge or constructing an office building, there is a need for reliable water control. Today, the best solution is a cofferdam. Keep your work areas dry and secure with a type of cofferdam that will meet your construction requirements.

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Types of Coffer Dams

A coffer-dam can be defined as a structure that holds or guards water away from a work area. By dewatering a worksite, construction crews are able to do use their equipment and materials with better precision. To better understand the capabilities of cofferdams, consider the differences between the three most common types.

  1. Braced Cofferdams
  2. Cellular Cofferdams
  3. Aqua-Barrier Inflatable Cofferdam

1) Braced Cofferdams

Generally used in shallow water levels or bridge pier construction, braced cofferdams are formed from a single wall of sheet piling. Each sheet pile is driven into the water and then braced together. By creating a box around the excavation site, water can be pumped out of the enclosed interior to create a dry site.

2) Cellular Cofferdams

Reserved for circumstances where excavation size precludes the use of cross-excavation bracing, cellular cofferdams are designed with steel sheeting. By forming a watertight wall, each steel sheet pile is filled with clay or sand to provide stability against lateral forces. There are two different types of cellular cofferdams, including the diaphragm and circular type:

  • Diaphragm Type – Consists of circular arcs in the inner and outer sides of the cofferdam. The cell is usually filled with sand or coarse-grained soils to weigh the sheet piles down and secure overall stability.
  • Circular Type – Consists of a set of large diameter circular cells interlocked by smaller arcs placed in-between. Each circular cell is filled independently, providing greater strength against lateral pressures.

3) Aqua-Barrier Water-Inflated Dams

Unlike traditional cofferdams, the Aqua-Barrier is a water-inflated dam. Moreover, it can be used alone or together with other dams to absorb various depths of water. Instead of having to pump the water into another location, Aqua-Barrier innovatively pumps excess water into itself to provide stability. Designed with industry-grade vinyl-coated polyester, each inflatable dam will protect the area to be enclosed with durability.

Pro Tip: Use the AquaBarrier in a variety of construction projects including culverts, boat ramps, pipelines, bridges, and many others.

Reliability for Your Work Area

At the end of the day, finding reliable water control systems is crucial for construction projects to be completed safely and on time. Without a dry site, pouring concrete, driving equipment, or welding materials could become hazardous. If you have a construction project located near a body of water, choose a dewatering solution you can trust.

Connect with our sales associates to design a custom water control system for your next construction job.

What is a Cofferdam in Construction?

What is a Cofferdam in Construction?

In 539 B.C. the first cofferdam was built by King Cyrus of Persia to capture the city of Babylon. While modern dewatering efforts don’t usually concern advancing empires, the cofferdams used today are just as important for construction projects. That being said, the cofferdams used in construction look nothing like what the Persian empire had.

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If your construction site is near a body of water, chances are you need a water control solution. A cofferdam used in construction might vary in material and size, but the goal is to divert water from the worksite. By having a system to control nearby water, you can maintain a dry work area for your projects.

Defining a Cofferdam

A cofferdam is defined as a “watertight enclosure from which water is pumped to expose the bed of a body of water in order to permit the construction for a pier or other hydraulic work.” In other words, it’s a structure that is able to retain water and pump it out into a different area. Whether it stores water or pumps it in a different location, a cofferdam ensures a dry area for construction sites.

The Evolution of Dewatering

Throughout history, there have been a variety of cofferdams in existence. After those first earthen cofferdams created by the Persians, the Romans created their own cofferdam out of wood pilings. Fast forward to the 1880s, people started to use bags filled with sand to create temporary dams and flood protection.

During the early 1900s, engineers designed a cofferdam that has stood the test of time by using steel sheets. By creating ‘U’ shaped steel sheet piles, each piece was designed to interlock together to ward off water. Also called a cellular cofferdam, the sheet piles are able to form a single wall. Often used in dam construction, the circular arcs of the sheet piles can be used in a variety of water levels.

Introducing the Aqua-Barrier Inflatable Cofferdam

In 1996, innovation and technology collided to create the Aqua-Barrier cofferdam. Unlike past cofferdams, the Aqua-Barrier is an inflatable cofferdam with a patented internal baffle system. Besides being environmentally-friendly and easily transportable, the Aqua-Barrier gives construction sites unparalleled functionality. The quick and user-friendly installation allows construction projects a dewatering solution that doesn’t cut into the actual building phase. With an inflatable water dam, construction sites can save time and money.

Pro Tip: The Aqua-Barrier has no bounds regarding project size or application. Customize an inflatable cofferdam to meet the needs of your next project.

Protect Your Construction Sites

Does your construction site need an alternative dewatering solution? Our water-inflated dams have been designed with your projects in mind. Every Aqua-Barrier is equipped with durable materials that can be easily repaired and reused. We’re committed to providing a product that will create a dry site for each of your applications.

Are you ready to protect your construction site from nearby water? Connect with our sales team to customize an inflatable cofferdam for your next project.