Episode 685: Robert Higgins – William Thornton – Roland Vierra – The Moisture Mob – Concrete Panel Grand Finale – Part 1

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Episode 685: Robert Higgins – William Thornton – Roland Vierra – The Moisture Mob – Concrete Panel Grand Finale – Part 1

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Show Resources: Show Discussion:

12:03:56 From cliff zlotnik : In the movie Godfather 2, young Vito Andolini is transported to NYC on a ship named Moshulu. Name the other 2 movies in which the ship Moshulu also appears? TRIVIA
12:13:30 From cliff zlotnik : Vic was first correct answer. Please send your contact info. S Page was only seconds behind!
12:13:55 From Clayton Shull : Got to go. Bye.
12:15:42 From cliff zlotnik : correct answer is Rocky & Blow Out
12:25:29 From Lorne McIntyre : Can you put that in chat
12:26:18 From Pete Consigli : Lorne, Cliff will have that in the Z-man blog. You'll get it next week!
12:26:27 From Lorne McIntyre : Tide —-poultice ratio
12:26:48 From Lorne McIntyre : Mix tide with what 50-50
12:27:34 From Robert Higgins : portland cement, type I or Type II 50/50 with powdered Tide detergent
12:27:44 From Robert Higgins : don’t let it get wet!
12:28:49 From Lorne McIntyre : Thanks
12:52:55 From Danny Gough : Just not enough time for these guys, Joe
12:53:44 From Robert Higgins : thank you…we can continue past this…anyone is invited to ask questions and take a deeper dive
12:54:23 From Pete Consigli : Great Bob, that is what the After Thoughts segment is about
12:54:49 From Jonathan Faith : https://afterthoughts.iaqradio.com/
12:58:24 From Clayton Shull : So William, would applying a skimcoat or leveler solve the problem of high alkalinity in the to 1" stratum/gradient affecting the adhesive bond layer?
13:00:14 From William Thornton : Clayton, no.
13:00:23 From Clayton Shull : How do you test for alkalinity Professor Higgins? pH and hardwater test strips?
13:01:45 From William Thornton : litmus or digital.
13:02:02 From Clayton Shull : Professor Higgins, you once described using putty around a test area, and adding more distilled water to the small pool of water and keep checking pH.
13:03:33 From ROLANDVIERRA : Clayton, that was a "test" to check the concentration of the alkalinity. The more water it takes to move the pH reading, the more concentrated the alkalinity.
13:04:05 From Jonathan Faith : https://afterthoughts.iaqradio.com
13:04:20 From Clayton Shull : Please keep the recording on. Thank you.
13:13:55 From Victor Cafaro : Happy New Year & Good IAQ in 2023
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Re: Episode 685: Robert Higgins – William Thornton – Roland Vierra – The Moisture Mob – Concrete Panel Grand Finale – Pa

Post by clayton »

I remember Professor Higgins discussing (once) the use of hardwater test strips to help get some idea of the "concentration" of the alkalinity. These strips use calcium carbonate (CaCO3) -limestone, as a baseline. I was hoping Robert would have gone into that a bit while the forum was live, not when it got shut off. After all, it all about the bond layer and testing it as much as possible with simple, easy to obtain methods that virtually have no repeatable costs. The opportunity is now lost, until next time Robert is available.
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Re: Episode 685: Robert Higgins – William Thornton – Roland Vierra – The Moisture Mob – Concrete Panel Grand Finale – Pa

Post by CliffZ »

IAQRadio Episode 685
Robert Higgins | William Thornton | Roland Vierra
The Moisture Mob – Concrete Panel

Good Day and welcome to the Blog for IAQ Radio+ episode 685. This week we welcomed Robert Higgins, William Thornton and Roland Vierra of the Moisture Mob – Concrete Panel for a discussion of concrete and moisture related issues. The panelists were joined by fellow Moisture Mobsters: Andrew Rynhart, CEO Tramex Meters and Global Restoration Watchdog Pete Consigli in concrete and waterproofing since 1976 and has been developing products for such use since 1980.

Nuggets mined from today’s episode:

Each panelist was asked to recap the most important issues from their prior appearance(s) on IAQradio and to comment on improvements or worsening within the flooring industry.

Robert Higgins:
• Concrete has greatly changed since the 1950s.
• Concrete manufacturers learned that finer grinding reduced material cost while maintain similar density. The unanticipated side effect is that new cement in 500% more permeable and has much greater capillarity than its predecessor.
• These changes are not being conveyed to the flooring industry.
• EPA regulations (2002-2019) have resulted in kiln dust that is more alkaline. Adding the more alkaline kiln dust during concrete manufacturing causes cement to behave differently. Further complication is that the alkalinity of kiln dust is inconsistent nationally.
• For 2 years within Type 1 L cement, ground limestone is being used to replace Portland cement in the mix. While resulting in a lower carbon footprint, curling and microcracking of the top 1” layer is occurring globally. The resulting cement surface is self-desiccating and commonly dries to 60% moisture which is inconsistent with the 80%-90% moisture of the balance of the installation.
• This haphazard rush to green has resulted in problems for the flooring industry. False positives during in-situ testing and disastrous/catastrophic flooring failures.

• Bob opines that concrete chemistry is being ignored. and that more study of cement chemistry is needed.

William Thornton:
• Changes in the flooring industry are being driven by specifications driven by the USGBC LEED Version 4 for Building Design and Construction.
• Problems are occurring at the interconnectivity of floor covering and design.
• Challenges posed by adhesives.
• F 710 05 Standard Practice for Preparing Concrete Floors to Receive Resilient Flooring. Floor patches and self-leveling and how they attach to concrete at the bond-line.
Asbestos Abatement:
• After tearing off the asbestos containing flooring the asbestos containing adhesive needs to be removed. Cutback asphalt emulsion adhesive has similarities with roofing tar.
• High flashpoint solvents such as Odorless Mineral Spirits and D’Limonene based adhesive removes are being used to dissolve and remove the adhesives; as opposed to low flashpoint solvents such as acetone.
• Adhesive removal solvents are known to penetrate 2” downward into the cement. What goes down eventually comes back up. Solvents designed to dissolve and destroy adhesive are aggressive and are known to damage vinyl.
• Removal of adhesive with solvents 3-5 times less costly than removal by grinding.
• William advocates solvents not be used.

Roland Vierra:
• Status quo
• Bright people in the flooring industry. Too many old-timers are stubborn and set in their ways.
• Roland cringes every time he is present when Bob Higgins and William Thornton get together. For every hour they are together, Roland will spend 3-4 hours researching how what was discussed is related to him and flooring.
• Concrete slabs are nor created equal. It comes down to the “transition zone” the top 1” of concrete. The transition zone is a sub-species of the slab. The transition zone is more porous, more alkaline…most flooring failures are concrete surface related.

Conventional wisdom being pushed out is that the problem is being caused by moisture wicking upward through the slab.

Roland Vierra: Mold is not only a moisture problem. Mold needs moisture, food source, and a hospitable environment. The lazy man’s solution is to label the issue a moisture problem and not consider the other factors.

William Thornton: Going back in history before the calcium chloride test, we would take a teaspoon of table salt and place it on the slab. We would cover the salt with a glass Mason jar and use plumber’s putty to create an airtight seal between the jar and the floor. We would wait 24 hours and remove the jar, If the salt was clumpy we would not install the floor, if the salt wasn’t clumpy we would install.
• It is hard for liquid moisture to move upward through concrete. Water vapor efficiently moves through concrete.
• Vapor hits the bond-line (connection between top of concrete, adhesive and bottom of flooring.
• Floor covering encapsulates the concrete and the moisture will equalize.
• Floor sealer can be a “problem child).
• The term nonporous sealer is inaccurate. Moisture hits the bond-line and will condense. Dewpoint is different than condensation. Dewpoint is temperature related.
• LEED Version 4, fly ash and the green movement.

Robert Higgins:
• Once inspected a floor that had pink and blue spots and found that the spots were caused by a sandwich that was dropped onto the floor during installation.
• Older concrete is dangerous. Salt migrates to the surface like efflorescence. Atmospheric dewpoint is caused by moisture in the air. Ionic dewpoint is caused when the RH exceeds 80% RH.
• The table salt, Mason jar and plumber’s putty moisture testing method is valuable information. The only downside is that it cannot be quantified.
• The impetus for moisture to move is warm to cool.
• Water is a good transport mechanism.
• Vapor barriers don’t do anything except where there are cracks. The testing used to justify the use of vapor barriers has been misinterpreted. We are still be fed things we don’t need. Use of fans during cement curing and drying is the only moisture mitigation needed.
• Is an advocate of the use of capillary barriers between wet soil and concrete slabs.
• Water can only be displaced not compressed.
• Cascading water effect can dissolve and damage flooring.
• Grinding aids such as amines and glycols are added to concrete during manufacture. These grinding aids can migrate upwards though the floor and cause damage the flooring is being blamed floor.
• Fly ash is a waste product from coal production. Coal production has diminished due to green concerns. Fly ash is now in short supply.
• Adding fly ash to cement was a good idea until cement became too alkaline.
• Clinker Cement. “What is Cement Clinker? Composition, Types & Uses
• Clinker is a nodular material produced in the kilning stage during the production of cement and is used as the binder in many cement products. The lumps or nodules of clinker are usually of diameter 3-25 mm and dark grey in color. It is produced by heating limestone and clay to the point of liquefaction at about 1400°C-1500°C in the rotary kiln. https://civiltoday.com › civil-engineering-materials › cement › 108-what-is-cement-clinker-clinker-definition-composition-types-uses”
• Fly ash reacts with clinker cement in a cascading effect.
• Calcium hydroxide adding to Portland cement was thought to maintain RH at 90%. The surface will be 60% resulting in permanent damage. The air-cured surface is weaker than the balance of the slab.


Andrew Rynhart, CEO Tramex Meters:
How moisture transports through concrete.
• Moisture is not compressible in new concrete.
• Air gaps are created as concrete dries.
• Moisture in liquid state can move through air gaps in old concrete.
• When moisture transports to the surface it is the same principle as distilling water. Thermal energy brings condensation vapor to the surface.
• Dewpoint is the condensing of airborne moisture.
• Ionic dewpoint occurs at lower RH and higher temperature.
• Evaporative cooling- surface cooler and condensation forms more readily.
• Persistent transportation of salts.
• The focus now is on in-situ testing. Some information being pushed out is confusing and misleading.
• IAQ folks understand moisture transport better than flooring folks.
• Flooring problems occur at the bond line. If moisture is eliminated to allow adhesive to cure which then reduces or eliminates flooring problems.

Pete Consigli, Global Restoration Watchdog
• Today’s IAQradio+ episode went into overtime like World Cup Games.
• Joe Lstiburek concurs and advocates the use of capillary barriers between wet soil and concrete slabs.
• According to Joe Lstiburek: if a cement column was built between the earth and the moon, moisture vapor would transport from the earth to the moon.
• Let’s keep the conversation going next week in Moisture Mob panel discussion continued!

Bob Higgins:
• Recounted the elegant solution he devised for waterproofing 60 miles of London England’s Metro Tunnels.
• There is nothing that can’t be done if you have the right precepts.
• Has found gravimetric moisture measurement to be the most accurate method. Found that Tramex aligned with the accuracy of gravimetric testing.
• Bob’s poultice formula from removing spent solvent from within concrete slabs. 50% Portland cement (either Type 1 or Type 11) with 50% Tide powdered laundry detergent. Don’t let it get wet!

Z-Man signing off

In the movie Godfather 2, young Vito Andolini was trasport4ed to NYC on a ship named Moshulu. Name the other 2 movies in which the ship Moshulu also appears.

Answer: Rocky and Blow Out

Answered by Vic Cafaro, Chesterfield, Virginia
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