A Visual Guide to Common Concrete, Masonry, and Waterproofing Problems

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and nowhere is this adage more relevant than the maintenance and upkeep of  concrete, masonry and stone buildings and structures.  Oftentimes, major restoration costs can be avoided by proper preventative maintenance and treatment of problems in a timely manner.

Below is a brief visual guide to recognizing common problems in concrete, masonry and stone buildings and structures.  If you suspect you may have some of these problems, or want an expert evaluation of your building or structure, please fill out the “contact us” form to the left of this page and one of our team members will be in touch with you.

Concrete Coatings  – Oftentimes concrete is seen as a solid impenetrable material that can withstand any abuse or environment.  In reality, concrete is very porous and allows water to seep through it like a sponge.  Because of this, it becomes vulnerable to water intrusion and contaminants from the environment, which results in deterioration.  Concrete coatings  waterproof the surface to protect the concrete from the elements.  This also protects any valuable property the concrete may be sheltering.

Concrete Sealers and/or corrosion inhibitors are a crucial component to any concrete structure’s preventative maintenance plan.   Sealers and corrosion inhibitors greatly reduce the long-term cost of repairs by reducing water intrusion and minimizing the damage done by electrochemical reactions between road salt and embedded reinforcing steel.

Typical indications that sealers or corrosion inhibitors are necessary include, delaminating concrete, spalling, potholes, rust staining, exposed reinforcing steel, a pock-marked surface and micro-cracking.

Expansion joints are integral to the structure of a parking garage. When expansion joints are deteriorated, damaged or improperly sealed, your structure is at risk of water intrusion, spalling concrete and potential post-tension cable deterioration.

When fractures occur in structures or additional loading capacity is necessary beyond the original design, carbon fiber strengthening may be the answer. This commonly occurs in parking garage decks, columns, beams, bridges and elevated industrial floors.

Tuck Pointing is required when the mortar between bricks, blocks, or stones is deteriorating or missing. The deterioration of mortar is caused by freeze thaw cycles, acidic atmospheric smut, movement, and biological (mold, lichens, moss). To fix this issue it is important to reduce the root cause first. It may be that you need to chemically clean the building with at focus on biological growth, or removing the atmospheric contamination. And / Or keeping water out with water proofing above or water repellents on the surface. And finally, if it is movement based cracking, it may require helical ties to secure the brick to the backing wall, or expansion joints may need to be cut, or foundation issues my be present. When tuck pointing is performed, it is also important to match the new mortar type with the brick, blocks, or stones. Each situation is different and different mortars are used to achieve different things.

Tuck pointing required on this wall

Failed control and expansion joints – Control joints are used to handle minor expansion and contracting due to thermal changes in the building. Expansion joints are to handle larger movements in the structure. In general, they are made with either urethane or structural silicone. Urethanes in general have a 7-10 year life and silicone 10-20 year life before mass failure begins. It is important to understand which sealant you have installed. Urethanes can be painted and require less intense surface preparation for successful replacement, but don’t last as long. Silicones require more surface preparation of the concrete / masonry, but can handler larger movements, and last significantly longer.