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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.