Understanding The Link Between Corrosion And Concrete Spalling

Spalling is without a doubt one of the most frequently encountered types of concrete damage. It is characterized by the top layer of concrete flaking and clipping--a problem that ultimately leaves behind a pitted and cratered surface. This is not only an unattractive state of affairs, but it also makes it more difficult to move safely over the concrete. If you would like to learn more about how to keep spalling from occurring, read on. This article will introduce you to the link between internal corrosion and spalling, as well as how to prevent it:

Corrosion Related Spalling

Many concrete surfaces contain internal reinforcing components, which are intended to reduce the likelihood of crack formation and other structural issues. Most such components consist of steel, a substance that is highly prone to developing rust and corrosion--even when buried deep beneath the surface of the ground. As this corrosion builds up on the outside of the steel, it exerts pressure on the surrounding concrete. Such pressure will increase the concrete's susceptibility to surface damage, often resulting in areas of spalling.

Mechanical Protection

In order to prevent spalling that stems from rust built up, any internal components made of steel must be thoroughly protected. This is commonly accomplished by utilizing mechanical barriers. Such barriers physically prevent destructive elements like oxygen, water, and chloride ions from directly contacting the steel. All of these elements will naturally percolate through concrete over time.

There are two main categories of mechanical protection: organic and metallic. Both types must be applied to the metal before placing it in the concrete forms and pouring in the fresh concrete. Organic coatings are usually comprised of some form of epoxy. An epoxy coating is both inexpensive and relatively durable. Yet it does not always give the best results when used in roadways since the pressure exerted by high-speed vehicles is often sufficient to crack the epoxy shell. Once this has happened, the steel will be highly vulnerable to corrosion.

Metallic protection involves coating the steel reinforcing agent with such substances as nickel, zinc, or stainless steel. All of these act to prevent corrosion from reaching the steel itself. Nickel and stainless steel do so by providing an impermeable barrier. Zinc, by contrast, works by means of sacrifice. In other words, the zinc presents a much more attractive target for corrosion. In essence, it sacrifices itself to protect the much more vulnerable metal underneath. 

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