Is Flaking the Same as Cracking? An Expert's Perspective

Learn about chipping vs cracking from an expert's perspective. Find out what causes chipping and how you can prevent it.

Is Flaking the Same as Cracking? An Expert's Perspective

Chipping is a term used to describe areas of concrete that have cracked and delaminated from the substrate. There are several reasons why husking occurs, including freeze-thaw cycles, the expansive effects of the alkaline silica reaction, or exposure to fire.

Cracked or peeled concrete

is a sign of deterioration that requires immediate attention. It may indicate moisture penetration into the steel reinforcement, which can lead to corrosion if left untreated.

At CCS, we offer on-site inspections at the first sign of deterioration and provide repair solutions to prevent corrosion and maintain the structural integrity of your facility. It's important to note that flaking and cracking are not the same thing. Flaking is a crumbling or flaking of the masonry surface; in contrast, cracks appear as lines or gaps between the surfaces of the material. You may be able to see some wear on the edges of such cracks on the outer surface of the block, but this is not considered chipping.

Some concrete blocks, particularly older masonry blocks that contain a high percentage of sand, ash or soil and not enough concrete, may be more vulnerable to water damage and husking damage. Cracks, microcracks, blisters, flaking, chipping or delamination are all symptoms of defective concrete that must be removed and then repaired before you can proceed to surface preparation. And, if you have chipping, have it treated as soon as possible to maintain the structural integrity of the concrete as much as possible. Chipping can also be caused by mineral crystal forces or salt formation as moisture passes and evaporates from the surface of masonry materials, resulting in peeling or peeling of the surface.

Common causes of flaking are the presence of moisture, salts, heat and mechanical expansion within the concrete that cause cracking, peeling and chipping, etc. This type of surface failure is more common in colder climates where freeze-thaw cycles and de-icing chemicals are prevalent. Delamination and chipping of a concrete member are undesirable conditions; they not only represent a potential impact hazard in the scenario in which chipped concrete falls and hits a person, but also reduce the cross-sectional area of the concrete member and decrease its load-bearing capacity securely imposed. To avoid this type of damage, it's important to pour concrete in optimal condition using quality materials and keep snow out of it.

Additionally, sealing it regularly will help reduce the chance of flaking occurring. Chipping is normally caused by penetration of water into the masonry surface, often combined with freezing, to expel material flakes from the surface of the brick or masonry block or, occasionally, from the concrete surface. In addition to sealing it, you may want to contact a structural engineer who is qualified to respond and evaluate chipping. An additional consideration is that both delamination and descaling offer greater access of air and water to the reinforcing steel within that member; thus creating a corrosion cycle and increased access for corrosive elements that exacerbate the process with each subsequent cycle. In conclusion, chipping can be caused by several factors including freeze-thaw cycles, alkaline silica reaction, exposure to fire or mineral crystal forces.

It's important to address any signs of deterioration immediately in order to prevent corrosion and maintain structural integrity. Pouring it in optimal condition using quality concrete and keeping snow out of it and sealing it regularly will help avoid severe cracks and chipping.