How to Identify and Prevent Concrete Deterioration

Concrete degradation can be caused by a variety of factors, from fire and aggregate expansion to bacterial corrosion and calcium leaching. It is essential to recognize these issues in time and plan the right repair strategies. Water is the most frequent cause of concrete deterioration, as it can penetrate the porous material and reach the structure beneath. This exposure to water can oxidize steel particles in concrete and corrode reinforcing bars in reinforced concrete.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can also lead to the deterioration of calcium hydroxide in the concrete mix, reducing its pH and exposing steel to corrosion. Freeze-thaw damage is another potential cause of deterioration that occurs in cold climates, while chemical attack is one of the most common causes of concrete degradation in today's industry. Animal fats, natural and artificial oils, acids, alkalis, and various industrial salts are all damaging to concrete. Rapid moisture loss from newly laid concrete can also cause plastic shrinkage cracks, which are shallow cracks on the concrete surface. The total contribution of the aggregate to the carbonate content of a concrete was divided into three ranges (A highest, B and C lowest), depending on the calcium carbonate content of the total aggregate and the proportion of that total that was present in the fine aggregate fraction.

Sulfate attack is one of the most destructive causes of concrete deterioration, as it leads to softening and decay of the concrete matrix or expansive cracking and other disturbances associated with the formation of ettringite (calcium sulfoaluminate hydrate) and other product reactions inside hardened concrete. Premature damage to concrete slabs during freezing and thawing cycles is a major challenge for pavement durability and resilience. To avoid these issues, building owners should take steps to ensure that their structures are properly sealed against water infiltration, use high-quality materials for construction, and regularly inspect their structures for signs of damage or corrosion. Additionally, they should be aware of any potential sources of chemical attack near their structures, such as industrial runoff or animal fats.

Chloe Robinson
Chloe Robinson

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