Concrete cancer, also known as concrete spalling, is a common problem that occurs when steel reinforcement within a concrete slab begins to rust. As the steel oxidizes, it expands and displaces the surrounding concrete, causing it to become brittle and crack. This can lead to significant safety issues and can compromise the structural integrity of the building. The main cause of concrete cancer is water penetration. Water can find its way into the concrete through small cracks or other openings, making its way to the steel reinforcement inside.
To prevent this from happening, it is essential to waterproof concrete surfaces. High-quality waterproofing options such as Wolfin or Cosmofin membranes can be used to seal new horizontal concrete surfaces. This will help minimize the risk of future water damage and prevent harsh chemicals from entering through the pores. A number of factors can predetermine the risk of concrete cancer, including proximity to the coast and a built environment; the degree of coverage from concrete to steel reinforcement; the presence of differential metals; the quality and density of coating systems; inadequate waterproofing; cracking of construction defects; joint and penetration details; and the level of preventive maintenance. If you suspect that your building has been affected by concrete cancer, it is important 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. Once a particular cancer has been repaired, preventive measures should be taken to prevent a recurrence.
Periodic maintenance checks will help identify any problems in the early stages of repairs, which will also help improve the service life and reduce the lifecycle cost of concrete structures.