Preventative maintenance: Protecting your commercial building’s concrete

Concrete care and upkeep are necessary in commercial buildings

Every building and especially commercial buildings utilize concrete to create their space. Many people assume that laying a concrete foundation is all you need as a base measure, and then you can simply continue on your way, propping up walls and a roof on it. Not so: In order to construct safely and set your building up for safety and longevity, you must first protect the concrete.

Exterior concrete is very susceptible to the exterior environment, especially in coastal areas. There, the soil is constantly wet just below the ground surface and adds salt into the mix — both in the air and the water — and these elements act on building materials in a negative way. The moisture and the humidity that seep into the concrete bring salt along for the ride. Long-term exposure to functionally submerged conditions amplifies this deterioration. The solution: Protect the building’s exterior concrete.

Protect and repair
Protecting the exterior concrete begins with utilizing waterproofing sealants and paint, especially underground. Below-grade (i.e. underground) waterproofing is necessary for a building’s long-term care and maintenance. This is a construction process that involves applying coatings and membranes to the walls of a building’s foundation that are below ground level.

If you see issues like spalling occurring in the concrete and can see the reinforcing steel or rebar, you need to protect and repair the vulnerability by cleaning the steel and applying a protective coating of rust inhibitor to help minimize future corrosion. You would then add an overlay to the concrete and a waterproofing membrane to ensure that spalling doesn’t reoccur.

Below-grade concrete deterioration can lead to issues like balcony collapses, parking garage failure, rusty water dripping onto cars parked in the garage and damaging them, and even an overall building collapse such as the infamous Champlain Towers in Florida. A qualified condo structural engineer’s exterior building evaluation can help you review your building’s concrete protection and care standards. A professional like a member of the Construction Solutions team should complete structural assessments, repairs, and upgrades to minimize overall costly remediations.

Do you have a building that you need to maintain? Check out common questions associated with keeping a building up to code by watching our free webinar on the tower collapse in Surfside, Florida, today.

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