Notes from the Field: 5 Common Installation Errors with Erosion Control Blankets
Installation error is a common problem for rolled erosion control products. Engineers and specifiers spend an inordinate amount of time dictating what product to use, where to use it, and how to use it- but often leave the installation instructions to: ”per manufacturer recommendations.” And we manufacturers DO have very specific recommendations! But unfortunately they are often sitting serenely on the manufacturer’s websites or in a binder at the distributor’s office- not out in the field when the product is actually getting installed.
I spent ten years in distribution before coming to work for ECBVerdyol and have seen this issue crop up over and over again. In that time I personally fielded calls or worked on projects where:
Crews unrolled, picked up, and flipped over single net erosion blankets. They complained that having to do that cost them a lot of time in the field. The real issue? They installed 4 acres of product upside down.
No toe ins installed at the top of a slope because crews can install much faster without it- I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen this one. Manufacturers have no desire to slow down installations for our own sake- we recommend toe-ins to prevent water from undermining the blanket and sliding beneath. We recommend it to anchor product to the surface- it’s pretty danged important.
Reverse shingling of blankets. Oh boy- that’s a big one. If you shingle a slope incorrectly every seam is a point where water will undermine your erosion control- the same way as if you shingles a roof backwards. This one again is a huge and common problem.
“Hi. I’d like to return this pallet and a half of staples- you sold us too many for our project.” How many times had I heard that one? The number of staples sold were per the manufacturer recommendations… which the crews didn’t follow obviously. I’ve seen woven TRM billowing up on a site in high wind due to the gross under installation of staples. If air can get under that product and push it up like that you can be sure that water can do the same.
I’ve seen TRM installed over tree stumps, grass clumps, and bushes in a channel.
We think it’s funny a bit, right? And it can be- to picture that poor crew picking up and flipping blankets all day in an attempt to do their job correctly… unknowing the problems they create by being wrong in their assumptions. That last example looks like it should cause a good chuckle, no? TRM installed over bushes… ridiculous! But that project had a torrential downpour before that installation could be fixed and all product washed out. The contractor was at fault, and so had to replace $45,000 of material. It resulted in a lawsuit. That contractor is no longer in business. And the product that washed out? Even though the TRM was not the problem, installation error was, and that TRM got a reputation in that market for “not working.” It was years before it was used in that market again. One project. One incorrect installation- it can have truly disastrous results.
We sometimes take RECPs (rolled erosion control products) for granted in this industry since we’re so familiar with them… but just because many of us know them backwards and forwards doesn’t mean all installation crews do as well. Installation error is one that occurs in the field- far away from many of our offices.
This is a problem we know about here at ECBVerdyol- and one we put real effort into trying to correct. Every single roll of our product includes installation instructions. We try to ensure that proper technique is literally in the crew’s hands on the site at the time of installation. Each and every time. For each and every roll. It is our commitment to help solve this common problem.