Concrete cancer, also known as concrete spalling, is a common problem that affects many buildings and structures across Australia. It is caused by the oxidation of reinforcing steel, which leads to cracking, chipping, and damage to the concrete. If left untreated, it can cause significant repair costs and even life-threatening damage. Fortunately, there are several ways to get rid of concrete cancer.
The most common treatments include waterblasting, electric hammers, chisels, concrete saws, and other similar tools to remove the contaminated concrete. After removing the chloride, protective coatings are applied to make the reinforcing bar resistant to corrosion. For moderate damage caused by concrete cancer, you may be able to remove the damaged concrete, clean and replace oxidized and exposed steel, and fill in cracks. If carbonation of concrete does not cover steel properly, polymer-modified repair is often used.
This method starts by removing the concrete around the affected area and cleaning up the rusted steel. Then, a steel primer is applied and a polymer-modified material is placed on top. An anti-carbonation sealant is usually also placed over the entire surface of the concrete to reinforce its strength. Remedies may include site-specific electrochemical treatment for near-ocean properties or simply removing damaged concrete, cleaning or removing affected steel, and replacing with new material. An anti-carbonation coating or other specialized coating can be applied to strengthen and preserve the concrete.
Once the underlying steel and concrete have been repaired, you will need to allow it to cure properly; at this stage, specialized coatings can be used. When a waterproofing membrane fails or there are gaps around the membrane, it can start the concrete degradation process. The individual professional will be able to more accurately identify the cause of the problem and recommend an appropriate solution. Depending on the severity of the problem, concrete repairers may use a technique called crack injection to create a water diverting membrane or, if the problem is severe, more invasive action may be needed. To prevent concrete cancer from occurring in your building or structure in the first place, you should constantly maintain it with waterproofing coatings and inspect it regularly for imperfections. Flat concrete roofs are particularly vulnerable to leaks and water-driven concrete cancer if they are not properly waterproofed. If you suspect that your building has been affected by concrete cancer, be sure to have it checked by a professional (such as repair site builders or waterproofing contractors) to find out what type of repair work needs to be done.
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