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Spalling Concrete Blocks: Should You Worry?

Spalling Concrete Blocks: Should You Worry?

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August 30, 2007

Spalling concrete blocks are a huge problem for home owners, especially for those with concrete block foundations.  Spalling can cause massive structural damage and can even lead to the condemnation of a home because of the damage.  So it is important for home owners to be aware of what causes concrete spalling and how spalling concrete blocks can be fixed correctly.

Generally there are three different ways that spalling concrete blocks can occur.  The first is quickly increasing temperatures reaching critical levels.  Fire is really the only way that this can happen to concrete in residential use.  Mostly, this kind of spalling happens in high performance areas like tunnels, which can be subjected to high heats from car fires and the like.

Spalling Concrete Blocks

Another type of spalling is caused by intense pressure changes.  Spalling concrete blocks in this situation are also often in high performance usage, again like tunnels, where the concrete is holding up a large amount of weight. 

The most likely type of concrete spalling that a home owner will see is spalling concrete blocks from water damage.  In areas where there are many freezes and thaws, spalling is more common.  Spalling concrete blocks often have cracks in the concrete that fill with water from melted snow.  When the water freezes it expands, breaking apart the concrete and causing spalling in sections of the block. 

Spalling concrete blocks can also be caused by water penetrating the concrete and rusting the reinforcing steel bars inside.  The rust expands the concrete the way frozen water does, and creates cracks and eventually breaks in the concrete.

All types of spalling are preventable with the right precautions and protectants.  If concrete is poured properly, it will not be as likely to form spalling concrete blocks.  Start by having only a reliable contractor pour your concrete.  The odds of a contractor pouring concrete correctly are better than if someone inexperienced does it.  Also, make sure the concrete used is high quality concrete; poor quality material can cause spalling concrete blocks.  Finally, use a weather-proof sealant or protectant on your concrete to prevent environmental factors from creating spalling concrete blocks. 

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