Problems With Concrete Slabs

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Pouring concrete slabs for basement walls, interior floors, foundations and patios is common during construction. Many commercial buildings use concrete slabs for the foundation of the building and work floors inside the building as well as sidewalks. Concrete slabs develop problems over time, and the causes of these problems vary.

Moisture

  • Moisture builds up under the concrete slab and creates many problems. The concrete slab will buckle, crack and sink because of this moisture seeping into the concrete. Most construction companies use a plastic layer between the ground and the concrete slab to help prevent this moisture problem, with the exception of California construction, where they use a plastic layer and a sand material between the plastic and concrete slab. Some moisture gets trapped within the concrete if you mix the wrong amount of water, which won't run off the concrete slab as it dries.

Cracking

  • Cracking is a common concrete slab problem. This problem arises when the foundation settles over a period of time. A gap is set between slabs to prevent this cracking, but a foundation that settles too much will crack certain sections of the concrete slab. Most of this cracking will come in the corners of the building, closest to the part of the foundation that settles the most. Settling means that the foundation is pushing itself down into the ground from its own weight. Basement concrete walls have this problem arise more often than concrete floor slabs.

Flaking

  • Flaking of the surface of the concrete slab happens when the concrete is not mixed properly. The amount of minerals, water and length of mixing time all play a role in this flaking problem. The smooth surface of the concrete slab begins to loosen and small flakes come off the top of the slab, leaving a rough surface. Pouring the concrete and smoothing the surface as it dries while pushing the excessive mixing water off the top of the concrete slab will help prevent this flaking problem.

Warping

  • Warping of a concrete slab occurs when the ground surface is not properly compacted before pouring the slab. Soft places in the dirt sink, creating a warping effect across the concrete slab. Concrete-slab walls can develop a similar problem when the dirt is not compacted against the dried wall tight enough. The concrete-slab walls will buckle when the concrete presses against the soft dirt, and eventually, a large crack will develop in the wall.

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