Reinforced concrete is usually viewed as an indestructible building material. It is used to construct the strongest and most durable structures. It is, however, worth noting that exposure to some conditions may pose a threat to the durability and integrity of reinforced concrete structures. Concrete cancer, which is caused by exposure to a variety of factors as will be covered below, can render even the most solid concrete structure useless.
Read on below to find out how you can detect concrete cancer damage as early as possible to avoid costly repairs further down the line.
What Is Concrete Cancer?
Concrete cancer is a form of concrete degradation which tends to be quite hard to detect in the early stages of development, hence the name. This form of degradation specifically relates to cracking, spalling and damage on concrete structures that are caused by contamination of the concrete by various factors.
The undetected damage, which is usually caused by moisture seeping into the concrete, may cause cracking, after which some parts of the concrete may fall off exposing rusted steel bars. When left unattended to, the damage may continue to spread, ultimately affecting the strength and durability of the entire structure.
Causes Of Concrete Cancer
As previously mentioned, concrete cancer is caused by contamination of the reinforced concrete which leads to deterioration of its strength and integrity. This contamination may be caused by some different factors.
Moisture is the most common contaminant known to cause concrete cancer in underground structures. When moisture makes its way into the inner structure of reinforced concrete, it ends up causing damage in two ways. It might react with the calcium in the concrete, resulting in the destruction of the concrete layer protecting steel bars from outside air. As the steel bars are exposed to air, they rust and expand (up to seven times their original size) exerting pressure on the concrete from within which results into more cracks.
Alternatively, the moisture may cause the steel bars to rust, leading to the cracks as described above.
Detecting Concrete Cancer
Concrete cancer may end up causing damage that is very costly to repair or rendering the entire structure unusable when left unattended to for a very long time. Detecting it at the earliest juncture is of utmost importance.
The simplest way to detect concrete cancer is by inspecting the structure for any visual signs. Some of the signs to look for include water leaks and seepage through reinforced concrete walls, the appearance of bubbles through concrete render, brown rust stains leaking from the walls and the development of cracks and flaking on concrete walls.
Once you have detected any of these telltale signs of concrete cancer, it is recommended that you call in a specialist to conduct various specialized tests meant to ascertain whether concrete cancer has set in and the extent of damage caused. These tests provide a very clear x-ray image of the structure which can be used to look for potential concrete cancer damage.
It is important that concrete cancer repair is conducted as soon as the damage is ascertained to ensure that the problem is eliminated once and for all.