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Dewatering 101: Complete Guide to Cofferdams

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.

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.

Getting rid of water in construction is an ever-present problem on worksites and building projects. That’s the importance of cofferdams. Learn about the 3 most common types being used today. Click To Tweet

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.

Why the Dewatering Process Matters in Construction

Why the Dewatering Process Matters in Construction

Is your construction site near a body of water? Whether you’re building a bridge or repairing a pipe drain, it’s crucial to have a way to remove water that is effective and accessible for your whole team. That’s the importance of the dewatering process.

Not sure if an #AquaBarrier is right for your construction site? Explore why having a dewatering solution is important for your project! Click To Tweet

What is dewatering exactly? The dewatering process is the removal of water from solid material or soil. In many cases, it’s the removal or draining of groundwater from a riverbed, construction site, caisson, or mine shaft by pumping or evaporation. For construction sites, dewatering is the first step in making sure the project will have a dry and stable foundation.

The Problem with Water

Water is one of the most powerful forces of nature. On a construction site, it can create a number of hazardous work conditions for your workers. With little notice, it can also be the cause of extensive erosion problems. Runoff water can erode the soil on a construction site causing insecure grounding, sediment buildup, and loose contaminants. Without a proper dewatering system, your construction project could find difficulty to be completed.

Benefits of an Aqua-Barrier

While there are several different ways to create a dry construction site, a cofferdam is the most accessible and reliable method of dewatering. The Aqua-Barrier water-filled dam offers quick installation, reusability, and customizable sizing to fit the needs of any construction project. Compared to alternative dewatering methods, the Aqua-Barrier can be easily transported and installed by any member of the construction team. Instead of having to use a sump pump or general water pumps to dewater your site, you can easily start your project with the flexibility of the Aqua-Barrier.  

Pro Tip: Stick to your project timeline with an Aqua-Barrier to remove groundwater from your worksite easily and efficiently.

Types of Construction Dewatering

Due to the portability and functionality, there is no limit to the type of projects applicable for a cofferdam. No matter where your construction site might be, there is a way to remove water with Aqua-Barrier inflatable dams. The number of construction applications aren’t limited to, but might include:

Why the Dewatering Process Matters in Construction, Aqua-Barrier, Houston, TX

Solution for Your Construction Projects

Before your project starts showing signs of instability or erosion from surface water, invest in an industry-trusted dewatering solution. With water storage features and in-field repair capabilities, the Aqua-Barrier is your answer for your next construction project.

Are you ready to purchase an Aqua-Barrier cofferdam? Connect with one of our associates to start using one of the top dewatering products available.

Dewatering Precautions for Your Construction Site

Dewatering Precautions for Your Construction Site

Dewatering your construction site is faster and easier than expected when using the Aqua-Barrier water-filled cofferdams. Aqua-Barriers use less equipment and manpower to install than conventional cofferdam methods, saving you time and money on your next probject!

As a construction professional, you already recognize the importance of dewatering a construction site for your own safety as well as for your workers’ safety. But dewatering is a complex process. Do you know what to do before you even get started and how to handle potential dangers during the process? Let’s look at these important points for your next project.

What should you do before you start dewatering a construction site? What if you encounter a potentially dangerous scenario during the dewatering process? Here’s what to do. Click To Tweet

Know the Local Regulations

Some regions enforce strict regulations on construction waste or conduct, while others are more relaxed. Never assume you know the local rules regarding what you can and cannot do. It never hurts to double-check local guidelines and make sure you’re in full legal compliance. Save yourself some fines later.

Watch the Landscape

As you begin the dewatering process, keep an eye on the surrounding environment. Is the moving water causing rapid erosion? Is it raining and thus slowing down the whole process? If you notice anything that may be hindering your dewatering efforts, discontinue the job and wait for conditions to improve. A quick job is not worth the potentially huge safety risk.

Pro Tip: When it’s time to empty your Aqua-Barrier, simply drain the water back into the area it came from. No post-construction restoration is needed!

Diligent Dewatering Methods

Dewatering is a relatively straightforward process. However, it’s not a job to be approached lightly. You should always research your obligations as a construction supervisor and survey your local environment before work begins. Don’t let yourself get in legal trouble or put your worksite in danger.

Connect with us to learn more about how to safely dewater your construction site.

Save Time with the Aqua-Barrier’s Quick Installation

Save Time with the Aqua-Barrier’s Quick Installation

Construction is generally a rather slow-moving job. With a line of crews waiting to work on each section of the project and a looming deadline for completion, it proves to be demanding work. Any way to save time is welcome.

Fortunately, jobs that involve dewatering have a massive advantage for saving time: the Aqua-Barrier. This inflatable temporary cofferdam is a quick, easy way to clear the worksite in a matter of hours and let work begin almost immediately. Let’s take a look at what an inflatable dam could do for your project.

Construction often demands time that the crew doesn’t have. Use an Aqua-Barrier to reclaim some of that time and meet your deadlines. #aquabarrier Click To Tweet

Installing a Conventional Cofferdam

A conventional cofferdam, typically made of concrete or steel, requires a good amount of work and care. First, the wall itself is installed in the proper place to establish the border of the worksite. Next, huge pumps remove the water from the site, allowing the crew to enter and begin the project. The most obvious problem with this set-up is the time involved in constructing a secure wall, then dewatering afterward. This process could take an entire day, potentially more if the worksite is especially large. And when the job is done, what will you do with the materials? They aren’t exactly reusable.

Installing an Aqua-Barrier

By contrast, an Aqua-Barrier requires significantly less time and effort to set up. Simply determine the border of the worksite, unroll the barrier, and inflate it. Best of all, you can combine the dewatering process with the initial setup since the barrier fills full of water! Just put the displaced water into your cofferdam. Though the exact time required to inflate the cofferdam varies, an 8ft x 100ft Aqua-Barrier takes a mere 2 hours to fully inflate.

Save Time on Future Projects

Not only is an Aqua-Barrier the superior choice for your immediate needs, but it’s also a great way to save time on your future construction projects. If you opt for a conventional cofferdam, you’ll have to safely dispose of the building materials afterward since you’ll likely be unable to reuse or recycle them. This also means you’ll need to start from scratch the next time you need a cofferdam. Fortunately, an Aqua-Barrier is fully reusable!

Pro Tip: Some water barrier materials, such as sandbags, have to be treated as hazardous waste. Avoid this environmental hazard and time waster by using an Aqua-Barrier instead!

Streamline Your Next Dewatering & Construction Job

While you can’t control everything that might contribute to a delay in your construction work, you can certainly control the amount of time you spend dewatering your worksite. An Aqua-Barrier can turn a days-long dewatering job into mere hours. Add one of these essential inflatable barriers to your construction equipment and save time with the quick Aqua-Barrier installation!

Connect with us for more tips and tricks on optimizing your construction work.