Concrete cancer and concrete spalling: what you need to know

Concrete Cancer And Concrete Spalling

Danrae Group has decades of waterproofing expertise. So not only can we look after every stage of project management and lay every type of membrane, we understand every potential problem. And that means we’re experts in diagnosing and treating two of the most common issues: concrete spalling and concrete cancer.

While some use the terms interchangeably, concrete cancer and concrete spalling describe two stages of a related issue… which can wreak havoc if left untreated.

To ensure the long-term effectiveness of your waterproofing – and the structural integrity of your home or building – it’s crucial that you know what they are, what to look out for… and how to remedy them.

About Concrete Spalling And Concrete Cancer

About concrete spalling and concrete cancer

Concrete buildings rely on an internal framework of steel bars or mesh for reinforcement. Any exposure to air or water creates a carbonic acid that can cause the steel to corrode. With corrosion, the steel expands or begins to degrade, providing more space for water to enter the internal structure, cracking the concrete… and worsening the condition.

Concrete spalling describes the state when the concrete begins to degrade or break away.

Common signs include cracking, crumbling or flaking concrete, rust stains or bubbling on the concrete or cement render – plus leaks in the roof and walls.

Concrete cancer refers to the spread – and worsening – of concrete spalling. Concrete is porous, so it absorbs the acid created during the spalling process, accelerating corrosion and exposing the internal steel framework to air and water. This again speeds up the corrosion process and ultimately causes extensive – and costly – property damage.


The Causes Of Concrete Cancer And Spalling

The causes of concrete cancer and spalling

There are several factors that may contribute to concrete spalling and concrete cancer. External factors such as saltwater chloride corrosion (near the ocean) or extreme weather may sometimes play a role. And flat roofs are more prone to the conditions.  At other times, problems stem from the initial construction stage.

Some common triggers of concrete spalling relate to building defects.

It might be inadequate preparation of the reinforcing steel, incompatible support metals, metal bars positioned too close to the surface, stress fractures from excessive weight, insufficient concrete cover or poorly poured concrete.

Poor quality waterproofing can also certainly be a trigger. When a waterproofing membrane fails or there are gaps around the membrane, it can start the concrete degradation process.

Slapdash Remedy

And the remedies

Concrete cancer can be a serious and expensive issue if left untreated, misdiagnosed or if given a slapdash remedy. There are a number of options to fix the issue, but the first step will be a full diagnostic to determine the exact cause and full extent of the problem.

Remedies can include site-specific electrochemical treatment for properties near the ocean or simply the removal of damaged concrete, cleaning or removal of affected steel and replacement with new material. An anti-carbonation coating or other specialist coating may be applied to strengthen and preserve the concrete.

At Danrae Group, we regularly see the effects of concrete spalling and cancer stemming from waterproofing issues. These might have been triggered by poor workmanship, damage from multiple trades work in a small location – a strata rooftop for instance – or external factors.

Identifying Concrete Spalling And Cancer

Identifying concrete spalling and cancer

There are plenty of reasons to do everything you can to avoid concrete spalling and concrete cancer. At the very least, they look terrible, causing cracking and visible damage to a property. More significantly, they can be a danger to people and other property should large chunks of concrete break and fall from a building.

Concrete spalling and concrete cancer do not rectify themselves… and they will worsen if they untreated. So action is essential to protect your property.

Fixing and filling small cracks will help stop the spread of concrete cancer, but the key to a successful remedy is timely and professional identification – and treatment. Concrete cancer and spalling cannot be fixed without structural intervention… and quality and long-lasting waterproofing designed by a team with longstanding experience.

Full project management – for permanent solutions

Full Project Management

Danrae Group understands the causes and remedies of concrete spalling and concrete cancer. And we know that the best way to treat them effectively is with full project management. We will visit your site and provide a full condition assessment – and solution design.

We have robust processes in place to manage every stage from quote to completion – and for larger projects like strata buildings or civil construction, that means we organise everything from council permits to crane hire to complete stakeholder communication.

We will remove all existing building materials prior to installation, demolish and rebuild where needed, lay the membrane and fully test it afterwards. And we always leave a site in pristine shape.

We’re adamant that preventative maintenance is a proactive solution for long-term property protection. So we can also schedule ongoing checks, to ensure the quality and integrity of the waterproofing solution. Here’s how we helped one client recently with a concrete spalling fix.

If you suspect your property has concrete cancer or spalling, now is the time to act. Contact us to book in an assessment and remove your concrete cancer and spalling, professionally and permanently. Read more about waterproofing maintenance.

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