Another service we do is decommission in ground hydraulic lifts. 

A hydraulic lift is a pressurized vessel that contains hydraulic oil to lift objects, usually a vehicle. A loss of integrity from one of the hydraulic systems will result in the leaking of hydraulic oil to the subsurface. This can become an environmental hazard. 

Many older auto repair shops have in ground hydraulic lifts. Often times these are forgotten about until the priority is sold. Most commonly during a Phase I environmental site Assessments (ESA) the presence of hydraulic lifts is discovered and they are considered a Recognized Environmental Condition (REC) by most environmental professionals. For more information about RECs and the Phase I process, see the page Phase I Environmental Assessment.

Since many hydraulic lifts operating use a mixture of air and oil combination. Most lifts have a reservoir of this oil. The reservoirs can be above ground, but more often are underground. They are typically buried below the control level along the wall or next to the hydraulic lift itself. Because the size of the tanks are often small, they are usually exempt from underground storage tank regulations. They are not usually regulated by environmental organizations including the EPA. 

Several types of hydraulic lifts have historically been installed in auto repair shops. Three types of these lifts exist: single ram style, twin ram style, and twin ram style with adjustable spacing. The single ram style is simple design and has less underground piping. The twin ram style is more complex because the control system has to regulate the movement of both rams simultaneously. Because of this, they tend to have more underground piping, sometimes making it more difficult to evaluate for potential leaks. The twin ram style with adjustable ram can be moved closer or further away to accommodate different vehicle sizes. The front ram rides on a sliding carriage in a concrete trench, allowing it to be moved around. Since there is both riding and flexible piping, this style has the most piping. Unfortunately, because a trench exists, it collects oil, water, debris, and other contaminants. 

Banking and financial institutions usually require sampling of a hydraulic lifts. This is typically a part of the environmental due diligence process. Testing is often accomplished by constructing a single boring adjacent to the hydraulic lift. While doing soil tests, it is not uncommon to encounter additional contaminated soil during the removal process. Often we find the lifts themselves are intact and leak free, but a movement in the piping has caused leakage. Sometimes banks require the lifts be removed prior to lending any money on a property.

The Assessment Process:

  • Have underground locates completed with ground penetrating radar
  • Move on site AMS power probe to collect continuous soil core samples down to 12 to 15 feet. We like to look at the entire soil column in the core. 
  • Test the soil at an independent laboratory. If groundwater is encountered we also test the groundwater.  

The Excavation Process:

  • Saw the concrete floor so we can access the lifts and subsurface soil.
  • Excavate the soil surrounding the lift.
  • Extract the remaining hydraulic oil form the lift and reservoir.
  • Removal of the lift the piping associated with it.
  • Remove contaminated soil if encountered.
  • Collect any needed soil samples.
  • Backfill and compact the extraction with fill material.
  • Transport scrap metal to recycling facility and the contaminated soil to a certified disposal faculty.
  • Pour new concrete in the floor that was removed to remove the hydraulic tank.
  • Do a summary report of the removal.
Here is an example of a twin-ram lift