We all have heard that concrete is like a sponge and soaks up everything, for example motor oil in a driveway. Stain/Waterproofing concrete to prevent motor oil from soaking into concrete is obvious because you don’t want to see a big dark stain, but what about waterproofing concrete to prevent water from soaking in? Water doesn’t leave a big ugly spot like oil does, so what is the benefit of waterproofing concrete. It turns out that water can damage concrete in more ways oil can, sure oil leaves an ugly stain, but water will soak deep down and begin to corrode the rebar causing areas of the concrete to spall off. Another reason why it is good to waterproof concrete, especially when areas are prone to have freezing rain, is that when water soaks into the concrete and then freezes it expands and will pit the concrete eventually the concrete will need to be replaced. So be sure to have your concrete waterproofed to prevent stains and also water damage.
Spalling concrete can be a major issue in parking garages. Unlike concrete buildings that receive a curtain wall protecting the inside concrete floors from the weather, parking garages are open to the elements of the weather. Since the concrete parking decks are opened to the weather is it especially important to place the rebar in the correct locations and have enough concrete covering them.
A protective treatment that can be done to the parking deck after the concrete has been poured is to apply a waterproofing membrane to the concrete. This membrane will prevent water that is sitting on the concrete parking deck to leech into the concrete causing the rebar to corrode causing a spalled area. This membrane can be applied right after the concrete has cured or years after. This investment will protect the parking garage from future spalling problems that could potentially harm a pedestrian.
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Concrete spalling is very common in parking garages. The spalling occurs when the rebar in the concrete starts to corrode due to water seeping into the concrete. As the rebar corrodes it expands causing a piece of the concrete to break off.
Overhead spalling concrete can be dangerous to occupants in the parking garage. Pieces of concrete could fall and hit someone causing a lawsuit. It is relatively easy to repair the spalling concrete in the parking garage if done sooner than later. When rebar corrodes it could spread causing bigger areas to spall off.
The pictures below is an example of an overhead piece of concrete spalling in a parking garage. We offer parking garage restoration services in San Antonio, TX.
The bottom concrete slab of this parking garage had many cracks that were between 1/4″ to 1/2″ wide. The cracks were left alone for many years allowing water to drain into them. Overtime the concrete slab started to sink because the water started to erode the sub-base.
To help prevent further erosion, we cleaned out the cracks with a saw blade and then filled them with a flexible sealant.
Stay tuned for more pictures in a couple of weeks of other parking garage repairs. We will next be repairing spalling concrete on the slab-on-grade.
A common area for spalling concrete is underneath exterior formed concrete stairs. The spalling is caused by water seeping into the concrete corroding the rebar. As the rust forms on the rebar it expands causing the concrete to break off.
To prevent this from happening, you should have the top surface of the concrete stairs waterproofed. Waterproofing concrete involves prepping the concrete and then troweling on a special waterproofing cement. This will help prevent water from soaking into the concrete corroding the rebar.