What Is Concrete Cancer & What Can I Do About?

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Concrete is used in virtually all building projects. In many cases it is not seen, forming the foundations of your home. There are, of course, still some government buildings that adopted the utilitarian style of concrete in the mid 20th century.

More recently concrete is making a comeback; but in the form of precast concrete! Buildings created with precast concrete can be erected quickly and are strong; as well as durable.

Equally you will find that many buildings have chosen to have concrete coating. This is a great way to protect and strengthen your building. It can even improve the look of your building!

Concrete Cancer

The word cancer instantly brings up negative connotations. In the case of building with concrete it is right to do so. But only so that you can be educated and deal with the issue before it is too late!

When buildings are made with concrete the wet concrete mix is poured over steel rods. This reinforces the concrete and helps to shape it as it sets.

Unfortunately over time the steel absorbs moisture through cracks in the concrete and starts to rust. This is the cause of concrete cancer.

The rusting process causes the steel to expand. This places stress on the concrete which then cracks. The property starts to look like it has seen better days.

There are several signs that your building has concrete cancer:

  • Bubbling of your concrete coating
  • Cracks in the concrete
  • Rust stains on the outside of the concrete
  • Overhead concrete may start to leak!

It is not present in all concrete buildings. If the substrate was prepared correctly then moisture can find its way through the cracks. It can also happen if the steel used inside the concrete is not properly prepared.

Your property can also start to develop concrete cancer if the ends of the steel are too close to the surface of the concrete.

Dealing With Concrete Cancer

The aim is to prevent the moisture getting to the metal; this will prevent the rust from occurring and expansion happening.

Of course if the building has been properly erected in the first place then this is less likely to happen.

Follow these steps to prevent it occurring or if you discover signs of concrete cancer:

  • Damp Proofing

The first thing to do is ensure that your concrete has a good coating of waterproofing membrane. This is easy to do for foundations and internal walls where it will be covered.

Unfortunately you can’t easily add this to the outside of your property.

  • Crack Filling

It is essential to visually inspect your property on a regular basis. If you see any cracks they should be filled immediately. This will prevent the water getting to your steel.

You may want a professional to do this for you.

  • Sealing

It is also a good idea to seal your concrete on a regular basis. This will prevent the moisture getting into the concrete and potentially to the steel.

  • Water Leakage

Finally make sure you have no standing water round your concrete surfaces and keep your eyes open for any signs of water leaking in or out of your concrete.

By being vigilant you can prevent concrete cancer from developing and giving you a much bigger headache in the future.

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