Cofferdams have existed in some form for thousands of years, and the earliest date back to the early days of Persia, sometime in the mid-500s B.C.E. However, technology has evolved, and the modern cofferdam is nothing like its ancestors, as current building and safety practices continue to improve. Today’s cofferdams are the construction industry’s most widely used water intrusion barriers. They are constructed with a wide range of material types and come in all shapes and sizes depending upon the need of a project. So, what are the most popular forms, configurations, and uses for cofferdams in modern construction? From steel barriers to inflatable dams used worldwide, join us as we take a quick look at industry trends and the most widespread styles of cofferdams.
What Makes A Cofferdam A Cofferdam?
Cofferdams are rigid structures that temporarily halt water flow from any source for construction, protection, or ecological sustainability.
The specialty of companies like Dam-It-Dams that utilize inflatable cofferdams is unique and worth discussing as they are the newest form of damming technology widely available. These kinds of cofferdams use industrial-grade geotextile materials similar to vinyl or polyester inflated by the water it is blocking to create a seal and assist in dewatering efforts. This type of cofferdam is a sound option in relatively stable waters or in areas not exceeding twelve feet in average depth. Some of the benefits inflatable dams have over other types include the following:
- More Eco-Friendly– Inflatable cofferdams do not require the same ground penetration and construction of bracing that other options include. Further, they are temporary, quick to set up, and taken down, thus minimizing the environmental impact.
- Lower Cost- Temporary cofferdams require fewer materials and crews to set up and provide similar protection to regular braced dams.
- Temporary- Depending upon the nature of your project, you may only want to block water flow for a while or have a quick cleanup. Inflatable cofferdams are perfect for bridge repair, pipeline repairs, and ecological cleanup, as they can be rapidly disassembled and reused at the construction site.
A braced cofferdam is a temporary enclosure that blocks water and is constructed by vertical and horizontal steel sheeting consisting of a single wall. Braced dams are the most common form of a cofferdam for deep water construction, along with any structure where waters may fluctuate with tides or seasonal changes in river flow rates. However, they have the highest chance of danger if not properly constructed due to the single wall and depth.
Cellular cofferdams are often the most arduous undertaking for cofferdam construction. Construction crews tend to only use them in the most extensive building projects due to their complexity, labor required, and the cost of such a dam. Cellular dams provide a comprehensive protection area by driving steel sheets in a circular design, similar to a brace dam but with a more profound impact on the sea floor or riverbed. They are used to construct permanent dams or deep water dock facilities. There are two primary types of cellular cofferdams which include:
- Diaphragm cofferdams use a wide arc wall on one side connected by a solid flat wall on the other.
- Circular cofferdams are made by constructing wide circles interconnected with smaller circular transit cells between the more expansive work areas.
Are You Looking For A Cofferdam Solution?
Before you over-commit to a project and build an expensive permanent cofferdam, contact Dam-It-Dams to see if an inflatable cofferdam is right for you. We may have just what you need, so call us today at 810-695-1695 to speak with one of our expert damming consultants.