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Fixing Concrete Cancer

Craig Harwood - Friday, April 17, 2015
Concrete spalling also known as “Concrete Cancer”  is the result of the lack of effective waterproofing being employed to protect the concrete and the re-enforcement steel within the concrete. This is particularly difficult issue on the Gold Coast with many buildings built in the 1970’s through Early 1980’s without appropriate care to materials, design and specification necessary to guard against the effects of salt air and water.
Of particular concern in coastal areas is external cantilever balconies. It is possible for the balcony to deform from weight over a period of time and open up cracks usually near the join of the balcony and the main structure. This in turn allows rain and salt spray to be washed into the concrete re enforcement creating corrosion and spalling. This has the potential to be a major issue and all such balconies should be regularly inspected and issues dealt with quickly.
Concrete spalling is not just an issue in coastal areas or the outside of building and can occur in any area where concrete is subjected to water. Typically we see this in basements or under podiums that are subject to water penetration and is simply the result of oxidation or rusting of the re-enforcing steel inside the concrete (ask us about waterproofing injection systems for podiums). Whilst salts do speed up the process any water making its way to the re-enforcement will Carry oxygen to the steel, additionally acid rains and various pollutions from motor vehicles and industry when carried by water can increase the deterioration of the re-enforcement. By the time you see crumbling or cracking of concrete from the swelling of the steel underneath the process is well underway and usually will require quite a deal of tracing back to remove effected concrete and steel locate the source of the water and deal with the ingress and then the effected concrete replaced and sealed again.
Another possible cause can be leaking pipes buried within the concrete. Often the water from the leak will track along the outside of the leaking pipe and slowly eat into the surrounding concrete. Usually this is easily corrected with the pipes exposed and removed to give access to the affected area remedial work on the concrete can be undertaken and then the pipes replaced. 
In this case a damp patch was evident and small leak in a pipe was suspected. Once uncovered a leaking pipe was evident, however it was found that water had followed the pipework and created further damage to the concrete.
The repair job whilst still a relatively small job now involved tracing back the pipework to the extent of the water damage and effecting repairs along the pipework in the area.
The finished job is now ready for painting.
Waterproofing is not a job you can take shortcuts with and just stopping water entering an area is often not enough as it will find a new path unless dealt with effectively the first time.
In all cases of water penetration acting early can save major damage and cost in the future and by using only qualified waterproofing specialists like Xycrete you can ensure your job is completed to highest standards