Posted by Eric Boullenois - 18 November, 2018
Concrete is of unlimited durability – a common assumption, but, unfortunately, not quite true. Often, the material deteriorates much sooner than many would think. How to arrest this process and how to significantly extend the service life of concrete structures is explained by Master Builders Solutions expert Engin Seyhan in his webinar.
Around the world, concrete is the most widely used construction material. In most cases, the material is used together with a steel reinforcement to combine the compressive strength of the concrete with the tensile strength of steel – and, since both materials combine extremely well, this has generally been a very effective approach. Sturdy, robust and extremely versatile, the man-made stone with its core of steel often leaves one with the impression of imperturbable permanence.
Even concrete doesn't last forever
Matters are not quite that simple, though. As time goes by, concrete, too, will lose its structural integrity. The reasons why this is so manifold: Mechanical and chemical stress and impact leave their mark on the material; climatic conditions, too, can compromise concrete stability; and faulty specification, failure of the waterproofing system, or production and application deficiencies can be additional compromising factors.
An effective strategy to extend durability
However, for a concrete structure to perform its function, and for the structure to be safe to use, structural integrity of the concrete is a crucial prerequisite. Preservation of structural integrity for as long a period as possible – at least as long as the designed service life, preferably even longer – crucially hinges on the strategy in place to effectively address concrete protection, maintenance, and repair. Or, in simpler terms: The better things are taken care of, the longer they will last. This basically applies to everything and it also applies to concrete. And the earlier you start doing so the smaller the damage to be addressed will be. Maintaining checklists – to keep track of both the entire structure and small details, and of how they develop over time – can be of great help here.
Looking closely saves cost
Ignoring the initial signs of deterioration will inevitably result in small damage becoming larger-scale damage, and, consequently, a disproportionate increase in work and expenses required when the damage is finally addressed. Concrete aging can be divided into four stages: an initial phase, a propagation phase, an acceleration phase, and a deterioration phase. If, during phases one and two, all necessary maintenance measures are seen to professionally, the onset of phase three can be delayed considerably, and often beyond the originally intended service life of the structure. With regard to the cost involved, Wolter Reinold de Sitter’s Law of fives is applicable here as well: One Euro smartly invested during the initial phase is equivalent to saving five Euros in the next phase, or 25 Euros in the one after that, or 125 in the fourth phase.
On the safe side with a systematic approach
Among other aspects, approaching maintenance systematically involves: initial examination of condition, evaluating options, defining repair goals, selecting methods and materials, carrying out repairs, and determining the further course of action, for instance with regard to future inspections. Further useful information can be found, for example, in the ten-part European Standard 1504 on the requirements on products and systems for the protection and refurbishment of concrete.
Overview and specifics in webinar
The protection, maintenance and repair of concrete is a complex subject – concrete composition, for instance, varies with each individual project, as do the types of impact the material is subjected to. In a specially produced free webinar, Master Builders Solutions expert Engin Seyhan addresses the many considerations to be taken into account: His 25-minute video presentation on concrete protection, maintenance and repair provides a comprehensive and detailed overview – from general initial considerations to strategies to the selection of materials. He also provides recommendations where to receive further support, and will be happy to reply to your questions by e-mail.