Water: Concrete’s Worst Enemy

Waterproofing Concrete FloorConcrete is among the most durable building materials out there. It sometimes signifies invulnerability, even. Ever heard sportscasters use the metaphor 'ran into a concrete barrier' when talking about a player being stopped by an opposing team’s defence? That’s how the world sees concrete. Its hardiness seems to know no bounds. That is, however, unless it comes into constant contact with water.

Waterproofing service providers such as Waterproofing Direct would vouch for this. Water is concrete’s worst enemy and not the wrecking ball. There are various reasons for this.

Underlying Science

Concrete is porous. This means that it has millions of microscopic holes through which anything small enough can enter, like water molecules. Once inside, water can wreak havoc on the material. Among the biggest problems is freeze-thaw disintegration. After seeping into the concrete, water can freeze and break off small chunks from the material. This leads to slow but sure degradation over time.

Keep in mind that water expands when it freezes. From here, the damage is obvious. Upon freezing, water molecules crystallise into an open hexagonal shape, which occupies more space. Thus, the concrete’s inner structure can’t keep the expansion on hold and gives way. And the trouble doesn’t stop there. Water inside the concrete thaws eventually, but doesn’t leave. This is the beginning of a harmful freeze-thaw cycle.

Special Situations

Suppose that a building has flooring which features a concrete slab on grade assembly. This refers to a flat area of concrete poured directly on land or a water membrane. The biggest problem with this is that water or vapour rising out of a slab on grade causes weakened adhesion, peeling, and even warping on the material. There is also a likelihood of ripped seams and air bubble deposits which can further the damage.

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Experts point to water and/or moisture as a uniform reason. A slab may look dry, but has a lot of potentially damaging vapour passing through it. At the end of the day, this makes the case for adequate waterproofing to try and limit related issues to a minimum.

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