How to Solve Common Concrete Problems- Solutions and Tips

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Datetime: 2020-04-27 13:36    Visit:
Concrete is a relatively easy material to manage. However, you can run into huge problems if it is not worked properly. Concrete problems could include discolorations, shrinkage and scaling among others and because of that we have prepared a list of common concrete problems and a guide on how to solve them

How to Solve Common Concrete Problems

Concrete Problem: Discoloration
Concrete wall, cracked, rust streaked, detail

Concrete shall have the same color if you are using the same mix, batch and materials from the Ready Mix. However, concrete discoloration could occur if any or all of these factors are altered. Concrete discoloration could occur if water is added at the job site, by poor workmanship, different cement material and even if calcium chloride is added to the mix. All concrete ingredients must comply with American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards.

To solve concrete discoloration problem you must:

    Specify with the ready mix supplier your tolerance levels
    Prepare a uniform subgrade
    Wait until all water has evaporated to start finishing concrete
    Avoid hard troweling exterior concrete
    Use concrete forms that are in good shape
    Cure the concrete uniformly over the entire surface
    Use the same form release agent on your concrete forms
    Use liquid calcium instead of calcium chloride

Concrete Problem: Scaling
High Angle View Broken Concrete Floor

Another common concrete problem is scaling. Scaling occurs when the concrete surface breaks off to 2 inches and keeps peeling away. This normally occurs due to inadequate concrete strength, or inadequate curing procedure. Concrete scaling could also occur when water seeps into porous, non-air entrained concrete exposed to freeze-thaw cycles.

Concrete scaling could be avoided when:

    You specify a low slump-air (6 to 7 percent) entrained mix design on exterior flat work
    Concrete is finished at the right time, once all water has been evaporated
    Curing concrete adequately without using salt or other chemicals during winter
    Avoid using a vibrating screed on high slump concrete

Concrete Problem: Crazing
Cracked concrete

One of the most repeated problems in concrete is crazing. A crazed concrete occurs when the surface shows several interconnected fine cracks. Although the concrete strength probably is not affected, cracks will show up when the slab is damp. Crazing of concrete occurs when the cement paste comes up to the surface and it shrinks.

To avoid crazed concrete:

    Use a moderate slump concrete without bleeding and segregation
    Do not finish concrete until all water has evaporated
    Do not dust cement on the surface while water is present at the surface
    Do not sprinkle water over the concrete while finishing it
    If the weather could produce high evaporation rates, spray some water onto the subgrade, so it will not absorb the water from the concrete mix
    Use a broom finish instead of using a steel trowel
    Cure adequately concrete so it can retain the necessary moisture for the hydration process

Concrete Problem: Cracking
Directly Above Shot Of Cracked Street

Concrete can crack easily. Concrete could shrink and sometimes it could not be prevented but it can be controlled. It is probably the main problem that concrete faces. Cracking can be the result of one or a combination of factors, such as drying shrinkage, thermal contraction, subgrade settlement, and applied loads. In the case of a wall, if a crack is not structural, is not too wide (the acceptable crack width is subjective but it could range from 1/16” to 1/4”) and is not leaking water, it should be considered acceptable.

To reduce cracking and shrinking of concrete be sure to:

    Remove topsoil, soft spots and organic material in the subgrade
    Compact all loose soil underneath the concrete slab
    Slope the subgrade for proper drainage
    Design a flexible concrete pavement that could accommodate load and movements
    Install concrete joints accordingly, by sawing, forming or tooling a groove
    Place, finish and cure concrete accordingly depending on weather conditions
    Do not finish concrete if it has not finished bleeding
    Do not overwork concrete surface
    Avoid rapid drying conditions or use a set retardant admixture
    Use wind breaks, fog sprays and cover the concrete with wet burlap
    Minimize the mix water content by maximizing the size and amount of coarse aggregate and use low-shrinkage aggregate
    Use synthetic fibers to help control plastic shrinkage

Concrete Problem: Curling
Workers Pouring a Concrete House Foundation Slab

Concrete curing occurs when there is more shrinkage at the bottom once the concrete has hardened. It is primarily due to differences in moisture and or temperature between the top and bottom surfaces.

To avoid concrete curling be sure to:

    Use proper curing techniques
    Place concrete joints accordingly
    Use low water content concrete or use water reducing admixtures
    Use the largest possible aggregate size
    Ensure proper bonding when applying thin topping mixes
    Use enough, not excessive, amount of steel reinforcement in the slab
    Place concrete on a damp but absorptive sub-grade so that all the bleed water is not forced to the top of the slab
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