The Importance of Concrete Restoration and Maintenance
In the early morning hours of June 24, 2021, the 12-story Champlain Towers South condominium building in Surfside, Florida, collapsed unexpectedly, killing ninety-eight individuals.
The collapse was blamed on the failure of the concrete structure due to deterioration and a lack of maintenance and restoration to prevent water damage.
The tragedy of Champlain Towers South is a reminder of the critical role of concrete restoration and maintenance in protecting both the investment and lives of a building’s residents, as well as a call to action for preemptive preventative measures.
What is Concrete Restoration and Maintenance?
Concrete restoration and maintenance is both an art and a science. Like any engineering structure, concrete requires regular inspection, testing, evaluation, and minor or major repairs to ensure it stands strong against the elements.
Without proper concrete restoration and maintenance, water penetrates the surface of the concrete over time. If untreated, this can lead to several serious problems, such as:
- Spalling: the flaking or chipping away of the concrete surface
- Exfoliation: the peeling away of the surface layer of concrete
- Carbonation: a chemical reaction that causes the concrete to become weak and porous over time
All of these problems can lead to a decrease in the strength and stability of the concrete and eventually to its failure – as was seen in Surfside. Consistent maintenance and restoration are essential to prevent these problems from occurring.
What Causes Concrete Deterioration?
So what causes concrete to deteriorate in the first place? Several factors can contribute, but water is by far the biggest culprit. Many of the most common concrete degradation issues are caused by:
- Exposure to weathering elements such as rain, snow, sun, wind, and temperature fluctuations
- Absorption of water or other liquids
- Penetration by insects and rodents
Without concrete restoration and maintenance, deterioration can lead to a loss of protective coating.
The Concrete Restoration and Maintenance Process
If concrete restoration and maintenance have not been regularly performed on a building or structure, major or minor repairs may need to be made. This process can include:
- Removal of loose dirt and debris
- Cleaning the surface to remove chemical corrosion, efflorescence, grime, etc.
- Repairing cracks, chips, and other surface damage
- Application of chemical sealants or primers
- Application of a decorative or protective coating
Waterproofing membrane may need to be installed and/or replaced for outdoor surfaces such as parking garages, balconies, eyebrows, walkways, and terraces. This is typically done by installing polyurethane waterproofing membranes.
Waterproofing a Concrete Structure
Concrete restoration and maintenance are absolutely essential for waterproofing a concrete structure. A waterproofing membrane seals building joints and forms against moisture penetration, while penetrating sealants or chemicals can fill smaller cracks or pores in older systems for added protection.
In Surfside, Florida, it appears that the building’s waterproofing membrane was compromised (and never replaced), allowing water to seep in and penetrate the concrete structure.
It is unclear which maintenance/restoration procedures were or were not performed on this 12-story condominium building, but signs of significant damage appeared long before the collapse. The tragedy should remind other property owners of the critical role of concrete restoration and maintenance to protect residents’ safety.
Prevent Disaster with Proactive Maintenance
Most buildings start with a strong foundation. But over time, these buildings are exposed to all sorts of damaging elements, including water damage. Poor maintenance or lack of it can cause disastrous rusting, corrosion, and other problems.
As seen in the Surfside tragedy, neglecting concrete restoration and maintenance can lead to serious consequences.
If you own a commercial property or home with concrete surfaces, make sure that you’re taking proactive measures to prevent a tragedy from happening to you by scheduling regular restoration and maintenance services.
Questions about your specific situation? Give us a call or visit our website for more information. Our team can provide a free estimate and consultation to help you determine the best course of action for protecting your concrete structure.