Evaluating Methods to Seal Leaking Contraction Joints in Dams

Project ID: 3191
Principal Investigator: Kurt Von Fay
Research Topic: Repair and Maintenance
Funded Fiscal Years: 2014
Keywords: None

Project Abstract

All concrete dams have joints, cracks, and seams which can develop pressures caused by the reservoir water elevation. Excess pressures at some locations can affect the stability of the dam. The distribution and magnitude of these pressures are controlled by formed drains located in or near the contraction joints of the dam near the
upstream face. These joints have waterstops between the formed drain and upstream face of the dam. Over time, the waterstops can begin to leak which can become a significant maintenance concern. These leaks can lead to millions of dollars of increased maintenance costs across numerous facilities, since they corrode metalwork, increase operation costs through increased pumping to remove excess water, reduce worker
productivity as they work around the leaks, etc.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Technical Memorandum No. MERL-2014-96 Sealing Leaking Contraction Joints, Science and Technology Project ID: 3191 (final, PDF, 1.1MB)
By Mr. Warren Starbuck
Report completed on November 21, 2014

Many of Reclamation's concrete dams were constructed with contraction joints that contain metal waterstops to prevent water leaks through the joints. These waterstop materials worked well for many years, but as the contraction joints flex and move, some of the waterstops are failing. In some cases when they fail,they can allow large amounts of water into galleries and equipment rooms, causing significant maintenance and safety issues. This project looked at one method for repairing them.

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Last Updated: 6/22/20