Over time, water can cause serious damage to your concrete structures.

Water, water everywhere…can damage your concrete structure over time. Since 71 percent of our planet is water, it’s going to be impossible to completely prevent the effects of water on concrete over time. At Tolley Concrete, we make it a priority to understand environmental effects on concrete, including those of water.

How Does Water Affect Concrete?

The most basic answer to this question is, water will crack concrete. However, the way it does so varies by situation. Here are a few of the most common scenarios that result in water damage. 

  • Carbonation occurs when atmospheric carbon dioxide converts the free lime (calcium hydroxide) in concrete to limestone (calcium carbonate). As this process progresses, it eventually reaches the interior steel reinforcing bars and causes the iron in the steel to rust. Rust has a greater volume than iron, so it ultimately cracks the concrete.
  • Chloride attack takes place in the presence of ocean water or road deicing salts. Chloride ions facilitate the electrochemical process of corrosion in rebar, again resulting in cracks in the surrounding concrete.
  • Sulfate attack happens either chemically or physically. Sulfate present in groundwater, seawater, or polluted atmospheric water will weaken the bonds between the cement paste and the aggregate, leading to major cracking and wear. A physical attack occurs when sulfate in a solution crystallizes and recrystallizes within concrete pores, resulting in expansion and cracking.
  • Freeze/thaw cycles cause deterioration due to the fact that frozen water takes up nine percent more volume than liquid water. This fluctuation will distress concrete and cause hairline cracks if there is not sufficient space in the concrete to allow for the expansion.

Tolley Concrete Covers It All

When you need concrete work done, ask questions! At Tolley Concrete, we take pride in knowing the ins and outs of how concrete is affected by its environment, and we are happy to educate our clients on these processes.