Concrete cancer occurs when steel reinforcement inside a concrete slab begins to rust. As steel rusts, it expands and displaces surrounding concrete, causing it to become brittle and crack, exacerbating the problem. Given the process cycle (exposure, corrosion, more degradation allowing greater exposure), the condition always worsens. concrete cancer will not fix itself, and has the potential to cause extensive and costly property damage.
Once you have fixed the specific cancer, take preventive measures so that it doesn't happen again. Waterproofing concrete is essential to prevent water from corroding steel beams. Consider high-quality waterproofing options, such as Wolfin or Cosmofin waterproofing membranes, to seal new horizontal concrete surfaces. This minimizes the risk of future water damage and prevents harsh chemicals that contaminate concrete from entering through the pores.
This is an important preventative because poor waterproofing, or worse, lack of waterproofing, could undo all the repair work in your building. Six common causes of concrete cancer include poor waterproofing, salt water chlorides that form in buildings near the sea, construction defects, weather, poor quality concrete and insufficient concrete coverage, and soil movement under construction that causes cracking. This extreme cancer of concrete was actually started by the magnesite floor covering. Rainwater came through the balcony door, wetting the magnesite which then leached aggressive chloride ions into the concrete, causing significant corrosion problems.
So what is concrete cancer? Freshly poured concrete is a mixture of a highly alkaline nature. Alkalinity helps prevent and protect rebar steel from corrosion. This is what concrete cancer is. Cancer of concrete, over time, develops as the highly alkaline nature of concrete is reduced through the ingress of water through 2 main processes.
Sometimes these defects mean that the metal reinforcing mesh does not have suitable concrete above it, so there is not enough protection against the elements. If you are buying property, particular cancer can seriously undermine the value of your investment and put your family's lives at risk. Any shredded or peeled concrete must be cleaned first so that the steel reinforcement underneath can be accessed. If chloride pollution is the problem in buildings near the ocean, you may need specialized repair work to treat concrete cancer.
Repairing heavily damaged concrete can cost thousands of dollars, so it may not be profitable compared to replacing it. Pieces of concrete could begin to fall from the structure, damage property and even endanger human life. The crumbling of concrete can also be a danger in other ways, falling and damaging property or even injuring people. If it is a case with less severe damage, you may be able to remove damaged concrete, clean and replace rusty and exposed steel, and fill in cracks.
For situations where concrete carbonation and low concrete coverage are the problem, the engineer might recommend the use of a polymer-modified repair system. Cracking concrete also provides an easy path for water to enter the concrete and attack the steel reinforcement underneath. If it is a case of chloride contamination in a building near the ocean, you may need to do specialized repair work to treat concrete cancer. According to founder and project manager Ron Caruana, one of the most common problems he sees can also be one of the most destructive: cancer concrete.
Once the underlying steel and concrete have been repaired, you will need to cure them properly with specialized coatings. Concrete is one of the most common building materials in use today, and you are likely to find it in almost any house or building. Regardless of whether the damage is severe or moderate, waterproofing and comprehensive sealing after repair are important to minimize the risk of concrete cancer in the building. Flat concrete roofs are an example of a building structure that is particularly vulnerable to leakage and water-driven concrete cancer if not adequately waterproofed.