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Concrete Spalling: What It Is and How It Affects Your Foundation

Concrete Spalling: What It Is and How It Affects Your Foundation

Statistics show more than 30 billion tons of concrete and 4 billion tonnes of cement are used yearly. This is unsurprising, considering concrete is incredibly versatile and used in millions of projects annually.

One of the reasons concrete is used for everything from residential homes, pools, and sidewalks to commercial buildings, roads, and construction is that when poured and cared for correctly, it lasts a very long time.

However, concrete is not invincible and can deteriorate, leading to spalling. In this blog, the Ground Up Foundation Repair team has discussed what concrete spalling is and how it affects your foundation. Spoiler alert — it’s not good.

Concrete breaking

What Is Concrete Spalling? – How To Spot It

You know that concrete spalling is linked to deterioration, but what does this term mean? In simple terms, concrete spalling is the cause of concrete breakdown due to specific chemical reactions or natural weathering. 

Typically, spalling affects foundations and weakens them, but it can also affect other concrete structures, including walkways, driveways, floor slabs, walls, and stairs. 

You’ll notice if your foundation’s concrete is spalling, because it often begins to crumble, flake, and become brittle. You also might notice hairline cracks around problem areas. 

If you’re still not sure if your foundation’s concrete is spalling or not, you can take a closer look at your foundation for the following warning indications: 

  • There is exposed rebar. You should not be able to see the rebar (rods) within your concrete foundation. 
  • There is cracked masonry. If you have a brick and concrete foundation, look closely for this. 
  • You’ve noticed a grayish coating spreading across your concrete foundation. 
  • There are flakes or specks of concrete in the soil surrounding your home or business. 

Unfortunately, if you’ve noticed any of these signs, your concrete foundation is likely spalling and compromised. You’ll need a professional team like the one at Ground Up Foundation Repair to thoroughly examine the cause and possible solutions. 

Image of a wall with faulty concrete

How Does Concrete Spalling Affect Your Foundation? 

If you’ve noticed any signs of concrete spalling, it’s important to call in the experts as soon as possible. Concrete spalling can have far-reaching and significant consequences over time. 

For example, if you leave concrete spalling to continue, you risk not only the worsening of your foundation but also the compromising of the integrity of the overall structure of a building. When spalling occurs, the concrete has a reduced load-bearing capacity, putting building occupants in danger. 

Safety-aside, concrete spalling also diminishes the aesthetic appeal of a home or commercial building. This can affect the resale value and diminish the value of the property. 

What Are The Causes Of Concrete Spalling? 

Now that you know what concrete spalling is and how it affects your foundation, it’s a good idea to learn what causes this phenomenon. Typically, concrete spalling is caused by extreme moisture and carbonation, but this is not the only cause. Have a look below to learn more:

  • 1. Freeze-Thaw Cycles

When water infiltrates a concrete foundation, it becomes a part of the material. This means that during the winter when the temperature drops, this water freezes within the concrete. The water then turns to ice, exerting pressure on the concrete. 

The ice melts during warmer seasons, leaving behind cracks and voids. Unfortunately, these cracks begin to wear down over time, and you’ll notice chunks of your foundation breaking off. 

This cycle continues year in and year out and, if not addressed, could lead to a permanently compromised foundation. 

  • 2. Reinforcement Corrosion

Reinforcement bars enhance the strength of your concrete foundation. However, these bars aren’t infallible. In fact, when oxygen and moisture reach the reinforcement through the concrete, corrosion occurs. 

The corrosion or rusting of reinforcement bars leads to expansion within the concrete, exerting pressure on the concrete surrounding it. This expansion within the concrete can lead to spalling. This hidden enemy often wreaks havoc on your foundation from within and is easily missed until it’s too late, so regular foundation inspections are needed. 

  • 3. Poor Quality Concrete

Not all builders or suppliers are honest. Although concrete can last decades, this is only the case when it has been manufactured correctly and mixed with quality cement. 

If a concrete mix is created with incorrect ratios in the factory or at the construction site, you will experience foundation problems like spalling. This happens when the concrete does not bind to the cement properly, leading to a weakness in the formula and, thus, your foundation. 

How To Fix Concrete Spalling

If you’ve noticed spalling on your foundation, it’s best to have professionals fix it, as it can be challenging and dangerous. There is also a chance that you could make the problem more serious, resulting in further damage to your home or business. 

Below are a few of the methods a foundation repair and maintenance company can use to fix spalling:

  • Concrete overlays: A repair team can pour a thin layer of concrete directly onto the spalling foundation to improve its appearance. This cosmetic fix will begin to chip away within a few months, but it is useful until a complete fix can be completed.
  • Concrete replacement: The only complete solution to eliminating concrete spalling is concrete slab replacement. However, this is risky and time-consuming, and a contractor must take precautions to prevent future spalling.
  • A penetrating sealer: If you can’t afford a full, complete replacement, a repair team can use a penetrating sealer. A sealer will penetrate the concrete’s pores, bind onto the capillaries in your concrete, and slow down the progression of existing spalling. It also provides protection against the freeze-thaw cycle and other spalling causes.

Concrete spalling is a serious issue which can lead to devastating structural damage to your home or business in Murfreesboro, TN. That’s why contacting a foundation repair specialist from Ground Up Foundation Repair is crucial. Our foundation repair team offer expert assessments, effective budget-friendly solutions, and maintenance options. 

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