Repairing water damage to concrete is essential to maintaining the structural integrity of the slab, wall, driveway, patio or any other construct composed of the material. How does concrete react to water damage and when is professional repair necessary?
The Effects of Water on Concrete
Concrete is composed of three elements: cement, an aggregate such as rocks or sand, and water. The proportion of each ingredient in the final mix will determine the strength of the finished concrete surface. The most common installation mistake is adding too much water to the wet mixture. While excess water makes the concrete easier to mold during the installation process, it will be weaker and less durable after it sets. Concrete is porous, and a high water content makes it more permeable and compromises its solidity.
How Does Water Damage Occur?
Water damage is much more likely to occur to a concrete mixture made of a disproportionate amount of water because it enlarges the pores and makes it easier to absorb water. As more water is absorbed, it softens, cracks, shifts and crumbles. Surface erosion is referred to as scaling. Using deicing chemicals in freezing temperatures can expedite concrete scaling. As time goes by, mild scaling can translate to long cracks that widen, creating gaps and sunken areas of the once-solid surface. Repairing water damage before the problem escalates is wise, but in certain cases, especially those involving recessed levels, professional help is warranted.
When to Contact a Professional
Classify the level of scaling present before repairs begin. Light scaling involves crumbling of less than five millimeters in depth, with no exposure of the aggregate. Medium scaling is when the aggregate’s top surface is showing and exposure reaches from five to 10 millimeters deep. Severe scaling is mortar loss up to 20 millimeters deep, and very severe scaling is over 20 millimeters. If the concrete only shows light scaling, recoating the surface is a viable solution.
In cases of medium or severe scaling, the concrete’s structure may be compromised and professional repair is needed. When surfaces exhibit extreme scaling, develop cracks or begin to collapse, a concrete lifting company will restore the concrete to an even, smooth level through mud jacking and slab reinforcement. Property owners should rely on experienced repair technicians when the damage extends beyond light scaling.
Clean the damaged surface before beginning repair for light scaling. Use a pressure washer to spray away crumbling cement, dirt, plants and stains. Resurface the affected area with a finishing seal. Once dry, apply a waterproof coating to help prevent further degradation.
For an assessment of water damage to concrete on your property and a repair estimate, contact Lift-Up Concrete.