Concrete cancer, also known as concrete chipping, is a serious problem that can affect the structural integrity of a building. It occurs when steel embedded in concrete oxidizes due to exposure to air and water, causing it to expand and crack the surrounding concrete. This can lead to further water penetration, the spread of cancer, and eventually chipping (when concrete starts to fall out of a building).It is important to identify and treat concrete cancer as soon as possible. Common causes include poor waterproofing, formation of saltwater chlorides in buildings near the sea, construction defects, weather, poor quality concrete and insufficient concrete cover, and ground movement under construction that causes cracking.
Repairing severely damaged concrete can cost thousands of dollars, so it may be more cost-effective to replace it. Before you start treating concrete cancer, you'll need to understand what it is, what you can do about it, the importance of getting expert help, and how you can prevent it from happening again. Here are some tips for identifying and treating concrete cancer:
- Inspect your building regularly for imperfections.
- If chloride pollution is the problem in buildings near the ocean, you may need specialized repair work.
- Waterproof flat concrete roofs to prevent leaks and water-driven cancer.
- Repair and rectify all areas of cancer as detailed in the “Site-Specific Scope of Work (SSW)” compiled after a site visit.
- Remove the concrete around the reinforcing bars and clean the steel before applying both the steel primer and a polymer-modified material.
If left untreated, it can lead to costly repairs or even replacement of the reinforcing steel.