Types of Concrete Issues & How To Repair Them
At Childers Brothers Inc. , we help maintain the residential concrete within a 300-mile radius of Amarillo, Texas, which includes roughly 230 counties and a population of nearly 8 million.
The point is, we know concrete, especially around the mid-southern U.S.
In this article we’d like to share with you common types of concrete issues we run into and go through some of the solutions used to repair them.
We’re not going to go deeply into civil and structural engineering, but skirt the basics so you’re more informed and prepared to deal with your own concrete issues when they arise.
To give you an idea of the scope, here’s a snippet from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s explanation of what can potentially cause your concrete harm.
“Freezing and thawing weather, structural overload, cavitation, abrasion-erosion, sulfate bearing waters or soils, acids, alkali-aggregate reaction, carbonation, and corrosion….Design and construction defects… Foundation movement, poor quality concrete, poor finishing, and poor curing…”
We’re not going to go through all of them, of course, just a handful. A huge point to remember here is that concrete deteriorates. With proper design (mixing), construction of your mix, and maintenance of the concrete in question, its lifespan can be dramatically lengthened!
#1) Concrete Cracks – Cracking
Sure, we haven’t yet figured out how far back into antiquity concrete actually goes, but humans have learned everything there is to know about concrete cracking over the millennia as the material’s come and gone (dark ages) and evolved.
You might be shocked to discover just how many different kinds of cracks there are, and how many potential causes exist.
Here’s a small sampling:
- Plastic shrinkage cracking that develops before hardening, typically found at re-entrant corners or when you have circular objects in the concrete slab like piping, drains, manholes, etc.
- Expansion cracks that haven’t been properly addressed through joints.
- Heaving cracks are caused by extremely serious moisture and ground freezing.
- Settling cracks, usually as a result of voids opening up under portions of the slab.
- Overloading cracks caused by too much weight, whether quickly or slowly over time.
- Premature drying cracks, indicative of either crazing or crusting cracks.
What matters is being able to properly and professionally diagnose concrete cracks, especially when we’re talking about residential Wall and Floor Cracks. Are they the result of a one-off or temporary situation? Have they been building for a long time, showing the age of the concrete?
Options to Fix Cracking Concrete
Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to this issue, neither in the residential or commercial spaces. Depending on what exactly the cause of your cracking is, and where it is, we may tap into one or more of these options:
#2) Concrete Spalling
Rather than trying to come up with something better, let’s quickly look at this explanation of what causes concrete spalling from Robson Forensic.
“There are many causes of concrete spalling; they include the improper placement of concrete and its reinforcing, electrochemical (galvanic) reactions between embedded metals within the concrete matrix, and corrosion of embedded reinforcing steel due to exposure to water and/or chemicals.”
In other words, what you’ve got on your hands is patchy and pitted concrete that’s exposing underlying aggregate.
What’s important is to address the issue without much hesitation, as it will put the entire slab’s integrity at risk (not to mention it can make beautiful concrete look hideous).
Options to Address Concrete Spalling
- We may choose to patch the impacted area with a specific compound that matches it.
- We may use a Concrete Coating or resurface altogether with a consistent overlay.
- We may decide for a variety of reasons to fully replace the impacted concrete.
#3) Settlement & Lifting
Below concrete is earth, and earth is a living, insanely-complex, moving, evolving and ever-changing being. From encroaching underground plant and animal life, to improper drainage and intense freeze/thaw seasons, voids open up.
As voids are created, concrete will inevitably follow gravity’s pull and settle down into them.
Slabs may be lifted up as a result of other types of changes to the earth below. When this happens it must be addressed – driveway slabs can cause car troubles, walkway slabs can become trip hazards, and so forth.
Our #1 Solution for Concrete Settlement
- Rather than going in and ripping out the slabs completely, when possible we can use modern Slab-Lifting Foam to re-level concrete.
- Slab-lifting foam is a permanent (as compared to traditional mudjacking which lasts 5-7 years) and lightweight option that looks better and costs less than replacement.
#4) Blisters & Scaling
Depending on the environment, seasonal changes the concrete’s been through and its age, there are plenty of cosmetic issues that can develop – blistering and scaling are two examples.
Scaling is the result of de-icing salts and similar types of corrosive materials being applied over time, while blisters on the other hand, happen when air bubbles get trapped under the surface. We have lots of options in this department, which again will involve resurfacing, epoxy options and coatings (not to mention properly mixing concrete to help prevent blistering in the first place).
If you were to tap on what seems to be solid concrete (or perhaps drag a chain across it) and hear that hollow sound, it’s likely the result of delamination. This defect in hardened reinforced concrete begins with reinforcement corrosion and on into subsequent cracking that leads to more and more damage.
If the concrete has been patched up or overlaid on older concrete, you may see a variation of delamination even without deteriorating, corrosion or rusting reinforcements (rebar, steels, etc.).
Conclusion – Lean on Concrete Experts!
If you’re in Amarillo, Texas, or within 300 miles of the city, give Childers Brothers Inc. a call. We can answer your questions, address concerns, and get your concrete issues dealt with professionally. Again, what we went through above is only a handful of the basics. We look forward to hearing from you soon