Why Flowable Fill Concrete Is Perfect For Utilities
Whether you work directly in the sector or as a contractor, consumer demand for communication, electricity, gas, water, and other energy and utility industry products is ever increasing. This constant need heightens the drive to provide installation and repairs in a timely manner, no matter the location. Enter flowable fill concrete, a somewhat new expansion in the concrete industry. Its flexibility touches every aspect of a project, especially when utilizing a volumetric mixer truck.
What Is Flowable Fill?
The name comes from the flowable consistency of the materials, cement, slag or fly ash, sand, and water. Because it self-compacts into a low strength material, flowable fill concrete is a common backfill alternative to using compacted granular fill.
When Can It Be Used
This type of concrete gained popularity because of the significant savings with equipment, labor costs, and time. Traditional compacted fill requires skilled employees, equipment, and time to properly place, compact, and test the material. But, self-compacting and self-leveling concrete, such as flowable fill, ensures 100 percent compaction — even in areas where granular fill would be nearly impossible to compact.
A common example is OSHA trenches five feet or more in depth. Shoring the sides is required for the safety and stability of the structure and anyone in or around it. Yet, flowable fill allows you to remove employees and shoring from the trench and pour the concrete. Safety risks diminish while once inaccessible areas are now filled and ready for use.
How Flowable Fill Is Used
While this type of concrete is commonly used for underground applications, it’s also suitable for many above-ground applications, such as:
- Conduit encasement;
- Retaining walls;
- Road cuts; and
- Utility trenches.
- Conduit bedding;
- Floor-slab base;
- Foundation sub-base; and
- Sub footing.
- Abandoned mines;
- Erosion control;
- Voids under pavement; and
- Underground tanks.
Benefits Of Using Flowable Fill Concrete
Above all, the biggest benefits are directly related to efficiency and safety. Yet, any project or structure which uses this type of concrete can take advantage of eliminated settlement problems, no on-site material storage, and excavation if necessary. On average, these projects need half of the equipment, manpower, and money compared to using traditional fill.
Variables For Flowable Fill
As with any concrete-centric project, there are many variables to account for when choosing the appropriate flowable fill mix design.
Color is frequently used as a visual safety warning to anyone who unearths the concrete, such as buried utilities. By marking buried utilities with a lasting color-coded flowable fill, the safety of future excavation operations is ensured. Crews and operators have an accurate and timely visual warning, allowing them to properly identify the type of the line based on the backfill color.
The American Public Works Association uses eight colors in its Uniform Color Code to denote backfill:
- White: Proposed excavation;
- Pink: Temporary survey markings;
- Red: Cables, conduit and lighting cables, and electric power lines;
- Yellow: Gas, oil, petroleum or gaseous materials, and steam;
- Orange: Alarm or signal lines, cables or conduit, and communication;
- Blue: Potable water;
- Purple: Irrigation and slurry lines and reclaimed water; and
- Green: Drain lines and sewers.
The fluidity of these mixtures allows it to flow long distances, to even the hardest to reach places. Plus, it can be adjusted without vibration.
Flowable Fill Strength
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards C403 or D6024 are commonly cited when estimating the load carrying ability of the flowable fill.
Questions about the positive impact a volumetric mixer can have on your concrete operation? Contact us today to learn more!