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Proper care of your tools.

Proper Care of your Tools

A single Vortabrush can typically clean between 200-300 concrete holes, but what will make your new Vortabrush last longer?

#1-  Correct product

Of the few times we have experienced a brush breaking prematurely, it has been because it was used on a concrete hole smaller than the brush diameter.  For example, a 1” brush will NOT work in a ¾” hole.  You MUST use the correct size brush; the brushes diameter must match that of the hole diameter.  When a brush is used in a different sized hole, you can expect your brush to have a much lower life expectancy.

#2- Proper storage

These tools are durable but storing them alongside your other tools can cause fraying of the brush bristles along with other deformities.  We recommend that you store your Vortabrush in the plastic container you receive it in.  Not only will it make the brush itself last longer, but you won’t cause unnecessary bending of the tool.

#3- Occasional cleaning

While the brush is make up of corrosive resistant metal and nylon, a brief rinse in water can make it last longer.  Often the brush works so well at cleaning holes that, especially on a damp hole, fine pieces of sand and dust can cling to the outside of the pipe.  A quick rinse in water will help protect the brush from premature aging.

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Vortabrush Instructions For Use

THE BASICS-Always wear proper eye protection.

1. ) Attach air hose from compressor. Use a minimum of 80psi air pressure for attachment to Vortabrush.
2.) NEVER put a Vortabrush into a hole of a smaller diameter than the brush itself.
3.) Insert Vortabrush to the bottom of the drilled hole pushing and pulling the tool from the top to the bottom while releasing a continuous stream of air for 10-15 seconds or until no more dust exits the hole.

That’s it. Typically at this rate you can clean 4-5 holes per minute.

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Who is Responsible? Proper Cleaning Of Holes Drilled In Concrete For Placement Of Anchors

The codes says that the contractor is ultimately responsible. Not the epoxy manufacturer, the tools used or the inspector.

Regardless of the methods or tools required by the manufacturers, ultimately, code enforcement ensures that holes are cleaned properly before in concrete anchors are placed. How so? ACI and ICC requires full time Special Inspection of ALL structural anchor placement in concrete. When holes are not properly cleaned by the contractor, the Special Inspector is required to report this as a non-conformance by the contractor.

It should be noted that just cleaning a drilled in concrete hole in concrete “per the manufacturer’s instructions” does not ensure that the hole is actually free of debris. The contractor laborer is responsible to clean the hole to whatever degree is necessary to ensure cleanliness and attain the required pull-out values. The governing codes ensure conformance by having the Special Inspector confirm the condition of the cleaned hole regardless of the method used. They (Special Inspectors) are trained and licensed to approve proper installation.

As a Special Inspector myself with 15 years’ experience, and having witness literally 10’s of thousands of anchors being placed; I can say with confidence that cleaning per the manufacturer’s instructions does not “always” clean the hole sufficiently. Contractors may argue that since they have “technically” followed the instructions on the epoxy installation notes, they cannot be required to clean them any further. Examples of insufficiencies may be that the proper size brush has not been used for the diameter of the hole. Perhaps the air pressure is not sufficient. Or, perhaps they simply do not spend enough time on each hole. The holes may have gotten damp or wet leaving a fine paste that is hard to remove. My practice is to inform the contractor that if sufficient cleaning is not provided to my satisfaction, they may proceed, but the witnessed condition will be reported to the Engineer of Record, the building official and the owner. This usually moves the contractor to provide additional effort.   Regardless, the contractor is ultimately responsible.

Conclusion; Whatever required method or tools used for cleaning, the contractor must use these effectively. And, Special Inspectors, by diligently enforcing the requirements for cleaning of holes, provide a ‘safety net’ that protects all parties involved.

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Does Vortabrush fulfill the required cleaning procedure instructions for major epoxy products?

5/8" Vortabrush

Yes, in general application situations.

Below are 2 examples of typical installation instructions for widely used anchor epoxies. Both require that a tube be inserted to the bottom of the hole with compressed air being applied and a brush that will reach the bottom of the hole to scour the sides of the hole for loose dust/debris. Vortabrush technically fulfills both of these requirements.

Vortabrush even goes a step further by requiring that specific brush sizes match the inside diameter of the drilled hole. This serves to get a more thorough brushing of the entire inside surface of the drilled hole. With its Patent Pending coil design, it allows dust and debris to escape through the “keyway” space between the coils. It is suggested that brushing and application of compressed air (minimum 80-120psi) be done for a minimum of 10-15 seconds with Vortabrush. This exceeds the 4 second minimums mentioned in the Simpson SET requirements.

I hope that this general information is helpful to representatives, contractors and inspectors. Vortabrush cannot officially speak for all epoxy manufacturers regarding their installation instructions. But in principle, and backed by lab testing, Vortabrush accomplishes its basic designed purpose.

Jaimie D. Gordon

ICC Special Inspector/Inventor of Vortabrush

Owner of Flash Services, LLC


Simpson SET Epoxy

1. HOLE PREPARATION: Horizontal, Vertical and Overhead Applications

Refer to Hole Cleaning Brushes for proper brush part number.

1. Drill –
Drill hole to specified diameter and depth.

2. Blow –
Remove dust from hole with oil-free compressed air for a minimum of 4 seconds. Compressed air nozzle must reach the bottom of the hole.

3. Brush –
Clean with a nylon brush for a minimum of 4 cycles. Brush should provide resistance to insertion. If no resistance is felt, the brush is worn and must be replaced.

4. Blow –
Remove dust from hole with oil-free compressed air for a minimum of 4 seconds. Compressed air nozzle must reach the bottom of the hole.


Red Head® Epcon® Installation Steps for
A7, C6 and G5
For more information about Red Head® products go to the Red Head® website at:
Drill proper size hole. Clean out hole from botton with forced air. Complete hole preparation with use of a brush and repeat cleaning with forced air. (leave no dust or slurry). Please, always protect your eyes from flying debris by wearing safety glasses.
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Hydraulic Anchor Cements

Hydraulic anchor cements are becoming more popular and are a viable competitor with some epoxy products.  Especially in any oversized hole this option needs to be explored.  For more information visit,  You will find some valuable information for consideration.  As with all post installed anchor systems it is always advisable to properly clean the hole being filled.  The Vortabrush is available in custom sizes if you have holes larger than 1 1/2″.  Go to the “Contact Us” link found at for more information.


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How Tough Are Concrete Epoxies?

By Greg Vandenberge

When concrete epoxies first came out I was working on a church remodeling the sanctuary. We were building a set of stairs that was two steps in height and 75 feet long. The steps were going to get a hardwood covering along with the rest of the sanctuary flooring.  I had used redheads in the past and noticed that over time these redheads would loosen up. I could never figure out what caused the redheads to do this. Was it the concrete that was expanding and contracting or was it the steel redheads contracting and expanding.

Either way I can never figure out what was up with the redheads. Another name for a redhead would be an anchor bolt. Red Hed is actually the company’s name that makes the anchor bolt used to fasten materials to concrete or masonry surfaces.

Finding out that Simpson building products had made any new epoxy and all it required was drilling a hole 1/16 of an inch larger than the all thread you were going to use . After drilling a hole you would clean it with a plastic brittle brush. This brittle brush was pretty strong but it was not made from metal like I have thought. I was thinking it would have been a nice metal wire brush.

After drilling and cleaning the hole you would insert the proper amount of the epoxy into the hole you had drilled out with a masonry bit. As you slid the cut to size all thread bolt into the hole the epoxy would ooze out of the whole. This would tell you there was enough epoxy in the hole.  After that I cleaned the leftover epoxy off of the wood that I had inserted the all thread into to remove the extra epoxy that had oozed out. I waited 24 hours and the next day came to work with my electric impact wrench and wanted to put this epoxy to the ultimate test.

I put the washer and nut on the all thread and started to torque the heck out of it. As I was tightening the nuts and washer it started to work its way into the wood.  I was simply amazed after 24 hours the epoxy had held that good.

That was then and today Simpson epoxy requires drilling a hole an eighth of an inch oversize and filling it with epoxy. I still can’t believe and to this day am a firm believer in concrete epoxies.

Read the instructions, clean out the holes properly with the recommended brush, insert the proper amount of epoxy, and rotate the all thread slowly into the hole as the epoxy starts to ooze out of it. Do not touch or move the bolt for the next 24 hours.

Concrete epoxies are here to stay and will keep improving as time goes on.

Greg Vanden Berge is working on the internet to promote the education for creating simple to follow guides and home building books to help professional building contractors as well as the weekend warriors. He is currently working on a great Building and Remodeling Library and adding useful content to help solve problems created by the lack of construction knowledge in the building industry.

Visit us and get more information on building and remodeling your homes in San Marcos Remodeling

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Drilled-In Anchors – Adhesive Vs Mechanical

By George V. Tobin

Drilled-in Anchors

There are two types of drilled-in anchors: mechanical and adhesive anchors. Mechanical anchors secure themselves by screwing/wedging into the object at the tip. Adhesive anchors require a hole to be drilled, cleaned, filled with an adhesive, and then the anchor can be inserted.

Mechanical Anchors

Mechanical anchors are generally easier to both install and uninstall. This type of anchor should be used only with solid, strong concrete. If the concrete is weak the anchor will not properly tighten and won’t function to its’ potential. Because all the weight and stress is concentrated at the tip of the anchor it has been known to cause cracks in the cement, especially with weaker concrete. You must make sure that the size of the hole is no bigger than the anchor, or it will not properly stick in place. While sometimes unavoidable, make sure not to drill the anchor into any air or powder pockets as this will cause a larger hole than the anchor itself. If this were to happen your only option is to create a new hole nearby; do not continue with the original hole. Another major precaution when using mechanical anchors is to stay away from the edges as this will induce cracks much easier. While they are much easier to install they are also dislodged much easier. Mechanical anchors can often loosen due to vibrations and can easily rust.

Adhesive Anchors

Adhesive anchors are fastened chemically and are not only more difficult to install, but the process is more expensive as well. You don’t have to worry about the strength of your concrete when using adhesive anchors as they will work even with low strength concrete. In order to install an adhesive anchor you must first drill and clean the hole. Once the hole is cleaned you fill the hole with your adhesive material. It is very important that you clean the hole thoroughly as any leftover dust or particles will greatly reduce the effectiveness of the adhesive. Adhesive anchors are known to be more secure and reliable because the adhesive allows the stress/weight to be spread throughout the anchor instead of placing it all at the tip. This allows for much fewer cracks as well as reduces harm to the surface paint of the wall. Besides being a bit more expensive and a lengthier process, adhesive anchors are criticized for not functioning properly under high temperatures.

Two Method Approach

Most prefer to complete a project using either mechanical or adhesive, staying consistent for both purchasing and building. If equipped with the time and money, some like to use a two method approach where the adhesive anchors take most of the weight and the mechanical anchors act primarily as a backup.

George Tobin is the Online Strategy Manager for Mutual Sales Corporation. MSC offers a variety of specialized Anchors and Fasteners nationwide.

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SDS Carbide Tipped Drill Bits For Drilling Concrete

By Mike Pistorino

What is a carbide tipped drill bit?

Whenever a post-installed concrete anchor is being used to attach a fixture to cured concrete, a hole must be drilled in the concrete. One popular type of drill bit that is used to drill into cured concrete is the SDS carbide tipped drill bit. SDS is simply the bit retention system – or how the bit is held in the drill. There is some debate as to what the “SDS” acronym stands for. The original German interpretation was “Steck-Dreh-Sitz” meaning Insert-Twist-Stay. As the bit evolved, it has come to be known as a Slotted Drive System or Slotted Drive Shaft. The SDS carbide tipped drill bit is a masonry bit designed for concrete drilling. But unlike ordinary bits, the SDS drill bit provides a longer service life. These carbide tipped masonry drill bits are more durable due to the hardness of the heads- making them tougher and more resistant to extreme loads.
How is a carbide tipped drill bit made?

The SDS drill bit is made up of 5 parts.

  1. First, there is the shank, which has two sets of grooves (for a total of four grooves) that fit into the hammer drill collar. The smaller of the grooves are two slots that are not open at the end and prevent the bit from falling out. The larger of the grooves are two grooves that extend to the end of the shank and when chucked in the drill, guide the SDS bit to a positive rotation. This set of grooves also allows the bit to slide in the chuck, enhancing the drilling torque and hammering energy of the tool.
  2. The next component of the SDS bit is the land – which is the raised portion of the spiral (similar to the crest or peak of a wave).
  3. The third area is the flute, or the trough section of the spiral. The flute facilitates the removal of the concrete dust as the hole is being drilled.
  4. The last two components of the SDS bit are the head and the carbide tip, which work together to break up the concrete. The carbide is brazed on to the head to harden the tip of the SDS bit to assist in the breaking of the concrete.

How is this type of drill bit used?

SDS bits are designed for use with a rotary hammer drill. The SDS bit is placed into the end of the drill and is held in place by twisting the chuck of the drill, locking the bit in the collar. The SDS masonry bit is not held solidly in the chuck of the drill, but slides up and down like a piston. The slots in the shank of the SDS bit accept the two ball bearings in the spring loaded chuck of the hammer drill and will remain chucked until disengaged by the user.

The hammer drill should only be used in the hammering and rotation position when using an SDS bit to drill into concrete. The bit will both rotate and reciprocate at the same time. When the trigger is pulled on the hammer drill, a gear driven crank moves a piston back and forth within the pneumatic chamber. The compressed air within the chamber propels the SDS carbide steel bit forward, delivering a concrete destroying impact. The use of a SDS drill bit in a hammer drill can drill a 3/4″ diameter hole, 4″ in depth, in about 30 seconds.

A good rotary hammer drill can drive an SDS bit into concrete without too much effort from the user. In most drilling application pushing harder on the drill will speed up the process. This is not the case with a hammer drill and SDS bit. The SDS bit is actually reciprocating and turning at the same time. Pushing down on the drill will only slow its progress and cause the bit to deteriorate faster.
When should a SDS carbide bit be used?

The SDS carbide tipped drill bit is used for two reasons. The first is to drill holes into concrete, brick or block for the installation of a concrete fastener. The second is to drill holes in concrete, brick or block to create a path for installing wiring and plumbing.

When using an SDS carbide drill bit to drill into a wall, it is important to support the weight of the hammer drill. If the drill does not receive the proper support, the bit itself will carry a portion of the weight. This may cause undue pressure on the flute of the bit possibly causing the drill bit to break in the hole.

It is important not to drill a hole deeper than the intended drilling depth of the bit. This could cause an interruption in the dust removal and increase the amount of heat on the carbide tip. Heat build up on the carbide may melt the brazing material, allowing the carbide plate to move. This possibly could lead to the bit failing in breaking the concrete.
Some suggestions for increasing the life of your SDS drill bits:

  • Before drilling, check to see that the carbide tip is in good shape.
  • Inspect the connection to make sure that there is not excessive wear. This helps prevent the drill bits from getting stuck in the chuck.
  • Lubricate the connection end of the bit to allow the bit shank to slide in the chuck. This is done by applying a small amount of grease to the grooves of the shaft (no more than a quarter inch dollop).
  • Let the tool do the work. When used in a quality hammer drill, the SDS drill bit will cut into concrete with relative ease. Hold the drill level and apply pressure evenly throughout the hole drilling process.

The SDS shank is the most widely used shank type when drilling into concrete. The SDS shank has superb hammer performance, high torque transmission and the ease of one-handed, quick chucking operation.

Please remember with all fastening jobs to keep safety in mind. Always follow safety instructions on all tools, and refer to manufacturer’s installation instructions when available and always remember to wear safety goggles!

Mike is an expert in concrete anchors and fasteners. He has years of experience in helping customers use and safely install all types of concrete anchors.