If you own a building, or any other structure that you are responsible for the maintenance of, you have probably been concerned about spalling at one time or another. Concrete spalling is a common concern that can affects any structure that uses concrete, like buildings, bridges, multistorey car parking, jetties, tanks etc.
Spalling is a serious concern that should be addressed as soon as possible as it can have serious consequences in terms of the structural integrity of the structure. This would in turn cause safety and health concerns and diminish your asset value. Unluckily many a time people will repair only the surface cracks with sticking plaster and a coat of paint and not address the root cause of the spalling. If the underlying causes are left untreated it may prove a hazard later on. While it is best in such cases to go to professionals so the job can be adequately done, you should do your research beforehand and look at common foundation spalling questions. We have organized some basic information here for you about what spalling is, it’s effects and how to successfully repair it.
What is Spalling?
Spalling is when certain areas of concrete crack and delaminate from the substrate. Including others, some of the causes for spalling are the freeze and thaw cycles, the aftereffects of Alkali Silica Reactions, or exposure to high heat or fire. However, corrosion of the embedded steel reinforcement bars or structures is the most common cause of spalling. As steel corrodes, it expands several times compared its original volume, thus exerting 10 times more stress on the concrete surrounding it.
Usually when concrete is cast on to steel, the high alkalinity of the concrete will help protect the steel from being corroded, at least early on. However, over time the alkalinity and the protection it provides is compromised when acidic atmospheric gases leech into the concrete, a process called carbonation. The corrosion is quicker in environments where the salt content is high. Most concrete structures suffer from spalling because of a combination of factors including age, quality of the concrete and construction, maintenance, thickness of concrete, and environmental conditions.
Should I Be Concerned About Spalling?
The least serious consequence of spalling is that it makes your structure look unattractive and dilapidated. A more serious consequence is that spalling can be hazardous as it carries risks of falling debris. If spalling issues aren’t addressed timely they can even spread enough to damage the structural integrity and stability of your building. It is absolutely imperative that you carry out maintenance timely and diligently so that your structure does not pose a hazard for users.
If you have spalling issues, it is best to have them looked at and repaired as soon as possible since deterioration happens quickly once spalling starts. The longer you wait the higher your repair and maintenance costs will be as corrosion and spalling becomes widespread.
How Can Concrete Spalling Be Repaired?
This is something best left up to professionals. Concrete repairs must be carried out in accordance with the local standards in your country or area for the repair and protection of reinforced concrete. It is critical that you hire an experienced and suitably qualified contractor so they can select compatible repair material and repair procedures for your issue, environment, and base structure.