Concrete cancer, also known as concrete spalling, is a serious problem that can lead to structural damage and costly repairs. It occurs when water penetrates the concrete and corrodes the embedded steel structure, causing it to expand and create fractures in the surrounding concrete. This process can be ongoing if not addressed in accordance with the structural engineer's specifications. In this article, we'll discuss how to detect, treat, and prevent concrete cancer.
The first step in detecting concrete cancer is to look for telltale signs such as rust spots on the surface, localized fractures, and a “bubbling” sound when struck with a hammer. If these signs are present, a complete rupture of the concrete may be necessary to reveal clean steel. Once the steel is exposed, it must be cleaned and made resistant to corrosion by applying protective coatings. In cases where concrete carbonation and low concrete coverage are the problem, a polymer-modified repair system may be recommended.
This involves removing the concrete around the rebar and cleaning the steel before applying both a steel primer and a polymer-modified material. To strengthen protection against chloride contamination, a surface treatment in the form of a cathodic system can be applied. Chemical water repellency can also be added to the concrete surface itself by applying Resistain, a waterproofing sealant for concrete. In some cases, additional reinforcing steel anodes may be recommended before applying new concrete or replacing existing steel in severe cases.
An anti-carbonation coating or other specialized coating can also be applied to strengthen and preserve the concrete. If left untreated, small initial areas of concrete cancer can become larger and more costly to repair. To prevent this from happening, homeowners should consider installing preventive maintenance of protective coatings or waterproofing balconies. Flat concrete roofs are particularly vulnerable to leaks and water-driven concrete cancer if they are not properly waterproofed. At Conspar, we have been providing effective solutions for detecting and treating concrete cancer since 1996. Our “Site Specific Specifications (SSS)” detail our methodology for removing damaged concrete, cleaning or removing affected steel, and replacing with new material. We also provide site-specific electrochemical treatment for near-ocean properties. Whether it's detecting a long-standing water ingress problem, treating the resulting concrete cancer, or waterproofing balconies, Conspar can help.
Our experienced team of professionals will inspect your building and provide you with an accurate diagnosis of any existing damage.
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