Precast concrete is nontoxic, environmentally safe, and made from natural materials, features that make it an ideal material for its use in all underground applications.
Precast concrete is desirable over cast-in-place concrete due to its relative ease of installation. Precast concrete utility structures can be easily installed and immediately backfilled as there is no need to wait for concrete or mortar to cure. Further, concrete quality is more easily controlled in a plant environment than on-site casting.
Additionally, precast concrete underground utility structures have several other advantages over competing materials:
- Flammability: Precast concrete is non-combustible and can withstand high temperatures. Fiberglass loses its structural integrity at 200° F. HDPE melts at 266° F.
- Long-term Mechanical Properties: Precast concrete gradually strengthens over time. Other products, such as fiberglass and steel, can deteriorate and lose strength, especially in the presence of ground water.
- Buoyancy: With a specific gravity of 2.40, precast concrete structures resist buoyant forces better than other materials. Fiberglass has a specific gravity of 1.86, and HDPE has a specific gravity of 0.97.
Installation of precast concrete utility structures is a straightforward process. Additional labor-intensive and time-consuming on-site preparation is necessary for anchoring structures made of more buoyant materials. In addition, the structural capacity of other materials often depends on the design and quality of backfill material, while precast concrete products are less susceptible to problems related to improper installation and backfill procedures.
Precast concrete is the material of choice for underground structures. Precast is modular and can fit any design situation. It is produced in a quality-controlled environment and can be installed immediately upon arrival at the worksite. Precast concrete utility structures can be manufactured for water tightness and are durable during storage, transportation, and use. They are easily installed and environmentally friendly.