The responsibility and commitment a house demands extend to more than aesthetic maintenance. Concrete is considered one of the toughest materials and is widely used in modern architecture. Unfortunately, a common fault found through building inspections is the deteriorating condition of concrete slabs referred to as concrete cancer. Also called concrete spalling, the issue severely jeopardizes the structural reliability of concrete-based construction.
What is Concrete Cancer or Spalling?
It is the term used to define concrete slabs which look cracked and fractured due to the expanding delamination from the base layer. The laying plaster approach is often used to repair spalling structures, but the fundamental reasons are left untreated. Spalling can occur because of intensive fire, exposure to Alkali-Silica growth, or freeze-thaw cycle.
However, a common cause of concrete cancer is corroding embedded steel reinforcement structures. Corrosion can expand steel up to ten times the original size, hence applying grievous stress on the surrounding concrete. Additionally, the structure becomes hazardous in terms of falling concrete debris and tripping danger. If diligent treatments are not executed, the construction’s stability becomes questionable.
How Can I Know a House Is Affected?
It is wise to get a professional inspection done for your own house or a for-sale property you are pursuing. Sometimes, the true condition of the house remains hidden till you employ a trained specialist to assess the building for you. Structural abnormalities need timely investigation so you can make an informed decision.
An early indication of concrete cancer is small pieces of concrete debris falling from the ceiling, formation of sinking or uneven surfaces, and appearance of rust. If you are observing such signs, contact a NACE Inspector to analyze the area.
These are qualified experts who examine moisture levels in concrete and steel substrates via non-destructive techniques and specialized equipment. It is vital to act when such alarming signs appear and involve professionals to undertake comprehensive procedures.
How Can I Protect My House from Concrete Cancer?
Combating spalling or scaling needs certain construction practices implemented. Here are a few ways you can ensure to improve concrete slab quality and prevent spalling:
- Proper Curing
Newly completed construction requires curing the top surface to aid cement hydration at early ages. It will help the slabs retain desired levels of moisture and gain strength. Cure the concrete with specialized curing compound sprays and allow it to dry uncovered for at least a month. This will ensure hardened concrete and minimize interference while the deicing salt process starts.
- Designing Drainage Flow
Incorporate sufficient slopes to drain surface water away from the slab. If your region experiences heavy snowfall, then adjust the slopes to minimize moisture retention. A flooded concrete is more vulnerable to erosion by a freeze-thaw cycle than drier concrete.
Waterproofing the building will minimize exposure to weather and reduce the risk of concrete cancer. The process will also cover any crack or crevice forming on the exterior walls. Applying a specialized transparent waterproof coating will ensure water to not seep into the steel substrates.