Water is one of concrete's worst enemies. Whether we are talking about the approach driveway to your home, your poolside patio or the walls of your home, when water gets inside concrete it can quickly cause severe damage. In fact, concrete corrosion is estimated to cost the Australian economy billions of dollars every year and to drive up the lifetime cost of buildings by 50 percent.
This makes it important to take measures to protect all concrete surfaces against the invasion of moisture as much as possible. Fortunately, this isn't difficult. Here are some basic measures homeowners should take to ensure that their concrete stays strong and healthy for as long as possible.
Deal With Leaking Subsurface Pipes
One of the most common reasons for outdoor and indoor concrete degradation is what are known as "slab leaks". These water leaks often result from damage to underground sewage pipes that pass through gardens and beneath foundations. Sometimes, homeowners aren't even aware of where their pipes run. If that's your situation, the first thing to do is request a set of plans that show exactly where water or sewage passes below concrete surfaces.
Check for any marshy areas in your garden or damp carpets inside where your floor meets the foundations of your home. If you detect the signs of a slab leak, bring in expert plumbers to re-route your pipes, carry out epoxy repairs or add extra lining where piping has decayed.
Add a Liquid Membrane to Vulnerable Surfaces
If you have concerns about flooding or you are worried about pipe or tank leaks, you can protect the outer surface of concrete surfaces by using liquid membranes. Generally bitumen-based, these products create a waterproof seal on the surface, helping to protect carpets and expensive wooden flooring from the problem of rising damp. This is a sensible precaution whenever you add flooring to your home and it may be suitable for outdoor areas as well. However, it's not a permanent solution and the membrane will need to be reapplied every couple of years. It also also doesn't address underlying issues with the concrete such as fissures and cracks.
Carry Out Concrete Crack Repairs Immediately
Concrete repair experts will be needed for more fundamental structural problems. Whenever you detect cracks in your floor or driveway, it's a sign that the internal structure of your concrete is in trouble. This is especially concerning if the cracks extend to joints at the edge of concrete surfaces where floors meet walls, or driveways meet the edge of your brickwork. If moisture damage degrades these joints, more serious structural concerns won't be far away.
Repairing large concrete joints and cracks isn't the kind of operation amateurs can take on. You might get away with using crack injection repair kits for small cracks, but most of the time bringing in concrete joint repair professionals is a sensible move.
Prevent corrosion to your interior and exterior concrete surfaces by remaining vigilant, dealing with slab leaks, fixing small cracks, using liquid membranes and bringing in concrete repair experts if necessary. If you don't act, higher costs will result further down the line, so don't let that happen to you.