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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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.
Today we repaired a concrete column that was in pretty bad shape. The column was hit by a delivery truck backing into the loading dock. The edges of the concrete column were spalling off. We removed all of the loose concrete, applied a bonding agent, and then a repair mortar to finish the concrete repair.