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Caisson vs. Cofferdam: What's the Difference?

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.

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.

Do you know what a cofferdam REALLY is? Find out the details about our favorite flood control solution! #AquaBarrier Click To Tweet

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.

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.

6 Ways to Cut Down Your Construction Costs

6 Ways to Cut Down Your Construction Costs

Operating a construction business costs money, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to cut costs. With careful planning and action, you can also help eliminate waste, decrease negative environmental impact, and boost your bottom line. Cutting costs doesn’t mean you have to give up quality. Click To Tweet

Cutting Construction Costs

Everyone wants to make the most money possible when they own a company, and the construction business is no different. Here are some top ways you can help cut down your construction costs without sacrificing a thing.

1) Create a Master Plan

Without a solid master plan, there is a higher likelihood that there will unnecessary spending. Make sure your plan includes management for time, costs, and quality, as well as contracts, safety, scope and more. A reliable project manager should monitor this plan and make sure it is updated through the entire construction process.

2) Hire Multi-Purpose Employees

It can be difficult to find good help, but it is important to find quality workers if you are looking to cut construction costs. Try to hire employees who have more than one skill and can be used in a myriad of areas.

3) Better Contract Negotiation

To help lessen the costs of supplies and other expenses, it is imperative you create good relationships with your vendors and negotiate contracts and prices. A long-term relationship can help you land discounts on supplies and services.

4) Reuse & Recycle

According to the EPA, more than 534 tons of construction debris end up in our landfill each year. By sticking to your master plan and not over-purchasing supplies, you can help cut back on waste. Try to find tools and supplies that are reusable or recyclable, like an inflatable cofferdam, to help cut costs, and also decrease your environmental impact.

5) Quality Tools & Supplies

Investing in quality tools and supplies will make a huge difference in your construction costs. If you purchase cheap tools, you will be replacing them and spending more money in the long run. For example, instead of wasting money on time-consuming sandbags for a dewatering project, an Aqua-Barrier® cofferdam is not only reusable, but less time consuming, therefore cuts down on manpower, as well as being environmentally friendly.

6) Get High-Tech

While new technology might seem expensive at first, it can definitely cut construction costs in the long-term. There are so many new technologies available to help you streamline your construction projects so you can get the job done faster.

Construction Costs & Your Bottom Line

Cutting the high costs of construction can be done with proper planning, the right tools, and by following the above tips. Not only will you be helping boost your company’s bottom line, but also making a difference for our environment, too!

To learn more about how you can cut construction costs and boost your bottom line, Contact Us.

How to Keep Your Construction Project On Schedule

How to Keep Your Construction Project On Schedule

Keeping your construction project on schedule is vital to your profit and your company’s reputation. There are many things that can throw your schedule off, like adverse weather, unreliable workers, or unavailable resources. Almost all construction delays are preventable with proper planning. Click To Tweet

Staying on Schedule With Your Construction Project

Staying on schedule with your construction project can be challenging at times, but with careful planning and management, you can help keep your construction project on time and without issue. Here are five key considerations to keeping your construction project moving forward and staying on time.

Review Plans and Specs

Before you plan anything, review and familiarize yourself with every detail of the construction project. Coordinate with your project manufacturers and material suppliers, and also allow your subcontractors to review drawings and any other relevant documents.

Create a Master Plan

After you understand the full scope of the construction project, create a master plan and schedule to follow. Make sure to build slack-time into the plan for adverse weather, or anything else that might set you back. Assign estimated start and completion dates for each task, and then allocate the resources, labor, and equipment to give each task the ability to complete them efficiently.

Communication is Key

When it comes to staying on schedule, communication is key. Establish ways for subcontractors to alert you if there is something that is holding up their portion of the work, so you can adjust the work schedule and collaborate to increase productivity. Project collaboration and communication builds better relationships and ensures that everyone completes tasks on schedule.

Have Proper Tools & Materials

Having the proper tools and materials is another way to help your construction project stay on schedule. For example, if your construction project requires dewatering, using old-fashioned methods, such as earthen dams or sandbags can slow down progress. Make sure to use the best tools for the job, like the Aqua-Barrier® cofferdam to help save not only time but money, too.

Periodic Review of Progress

It is important to keep track of the progress of your construction project. Keep daily reports and schedule frequent meetings with all involved to identify areas of the project that might be falling behind. As your construction project progresses, make any necessary changes or updates to your master plan.

Keep Your Construction Project On Schedule

With careful planning and management, open communication, and using the best equipment for the job, you are certain to keep your construction project on schedule.

To learn more about how you can keep your construction project on schedule, Contact Us.