Common Causes of Concrete Damages for Cracked and Spalling Concrete Floors

Feb 18th 2022

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Patching or fixing cracks in concrete can often be done quickly and cost effectively, but first you need to determine the type and cause of the damage so you can recommend the correct products and procedures for the job. Here are some types of concrete damage to look for.

Spalling or pitting: this includes the pits and flakes that peel off around surfaces and joints. It can be caused by improper pouring at the outset and then aggravated by freeze-thaw cycles. It’s important to mix concrete with the climate in mind – hot, cold, wet, dry? – and ensure that joints and edges in particular are covered adequately. Other causes of this include failing to allow the product to cure for the recommended length of time, and just getting old. Heavy use over time can create pits and spalls as well.

Settling: When the concrete falls in, it’s often due to the soil under it giving way. It can happen if the ground is not properly prepared before pouring or if water sneaks under the concrete to wash out the dirt underneath. This may demand some quick action; if the soil under the concrete continues to give way, your sidewalk can collapse and someone can get seriously injured.

Lifting: The opposite of settling, in this case the concrete comes up. Sometimes it’s because of a tree root pushing it from below, or our usual villain, water, can freeze underneath and raise the concrete as well. Unattended, this can create a safety hazard for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Cracking: This has many subcategories, and each type of crack has its own potential set of causes. Among other things, it can happen due to weather, water seepage, or shifting earth around or beneath the concrete; it can also be caused by improper installation or mixing. As a building settles, concrete can crack, and how it cracks will inform you as to the severity of the problem.

Some cracks are mainly cosmetic; cracks due to shrinkage or hairline cracks are often a result of not pouring the concrete correctly and can be fixed easily. Others demand a call – and fast – for a structural engineer. Larger cracks can be a result of hydrostatic pressure, settling, improper wall footing, and more. It’s a good idea to investigate the culprit and see if this is a problem that demands immediate attention.

Just about anything from manufactured materials to naturally occurring elements can form an alliance and go to war against an innocent slab. Steel embedded as reinforcement can rust and create damage from the inside out. On the topside, chemical attack can cause damage, as cleaning solutions can wreak havoc over time and even natural chemicals in the soil can find a way in. Friction from feet or tires can wear away the top layer. With all these enemies waiting to assault your concrete, is there a better way to protect it?

The very fiber of its being

Yes… there is hope if your facility plans ahead. Installing fiber-reinforced concrete can provide a layer of protection by increasing your investment’s durability and integrity. The fiber can help avoid shrinkage and resist cracking, freeze thaw damage, and a host of other ills. It’s used in all sorts of applications including bridges, roads, sidewalks, floors … even burial vaults. If it’s good for a highway, it’s probably good for your convention center floor or your factory’s forklift freeway. There are many kinds of fiber: steel, glass, polypropylene, organic, even plastic (which helps keep it out of the waste stream). They each have pros and cons, but on the whole they make the concrete easier to work with during installation and longer lasting after. Just like you might want to study up on cracks, learning about different fibers will help you choose the right one for each project.

Epoxy mortar is another way of patching concrete, and recent studies give it a huge heads up over cement mortar. It cures tighter than cement mortar, which means it provides more water resistance and it won’t absorb food and chemical stains. In many facilities, this will help keep the floor safer for workers who walk over the floor and it will keep the floor from getting damaged by heavy equipment. It can also save money on maintenance, since it lasts longer than concrete mortar repair.

By being prepared and taking preventative measures, you make sure that cracked concrete and other types of damage don’t negatively affect your operation. Having the correct products on hand saves you downtime.

Watco has the products you need to keep your concrete up to speed. If you have cracked and damaged concrete floors, contact an expert at Watco Floors!