What Is Concrete Cancer & How Can It Be Prevented?

As time goes on, you may start to notice that your building or other structure is beginning to show signs of wear and tear. This is known as concrete cancer, the term used to refer to the rusting of steel reinforcements that are contained within a concrete slab.

As this steel starts to rust, it expands and this causes displacement of the surrounding concrete. This in turn becomes brittle and will begin to crack, which will accelerate the process of disrepair. Look out for signs like concrete spalling (cracks and so on), rust stains that look like they’re seeping out from inside the concrete, bubbling of concrete render or leaks that crop up in overhead concrete.

It’s important to note that concrete spalling can be dangerous if it goes untreated. This is especially true of the outside of buildings because they’re more exposed to the elements, which can exacerbate any problems and make them more serious more quickly. Pieces of concrete could start falling from the structure, damaging property – and even potentially risking human life.

So why does concrete spalling occur in the first place? There are lots of reasons behind it so being vigilant at the concrete stage is certainly a must. It could be, for example, because the substrate hasn’t been poured properly so moisture is able to seep into it through various cracks. Or it could be down to the fact that the reinforcing steel wasn’t prepared properly when the concrete was initially poured.

Other common reasons include the ends of the reinforcing being too close to the surface so that when it rains water seeps through, leading to the oxidisation of chemicals in the steel. Stress fractures can also be caused from wear and tear or bearing weight, which means water is able to penetrate the concrete and thus react with the steel.

But what can be done about it and how can such problems be prevented in the first place? Waterproofing is perhaps the best way to prevent concrete cancer so invest in good quality waterproofing membranes to help minimise the chances of water leakage. Keeping an eye on your structures is also wise so that you can spot standing water issues immediately and have them fixed before they become problematic. Do the same for internal leaks as well.

If you see a crack anywhere, deal with it straightaway. You should also have the concrete sealed on a regular basis to protect against water damage and wear and tear. Painting your concrete can also help to protect it over time.

When it comes to concrete repairs, make sure you seek out a professional opinion from a reputable company such as Freyssinet. It could be very costly to do otherwise and you may not end up with a long-term solution to your problem. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with us today.