Areas with high moisture levels, especially along South Africa’s Coastline, with its relentless rainfall, sea spray and high winds, pose a threat to the structural integrity of buildings.

Spalling (the breaking off of cement, rock or stone into fragments) is as a result of water that reaches into the structures of buildings, causing surface peeling or flaking due to moisture in the concrete. This moisture, coupled with a high salt content that introduces chlorides into the concrete, pushes out from inside the structure while attacking the integrity of the steel reinforcing. As a result, corrosion breaks down the protective layer around the steel bars, weakening them and leading to the destruction of the building’s exterior structure.

As cracks expose more of the steel reinforcement, corrosion is exacerbated and the steel will deteriorate at an increasingly rapid pace. The more the steel corrodes, the weaker the building’s structure becomes and less reliance can be placed on the strength the steel originally provided. Left untreated, the steel reinforcement will lose its bond with the concrete and the structure may collapse under its own weight.

Spalling is a common maintenance problem and is more prevalent in older buildings. Bodies corporate, building owners and property managers need to be aware of the dangers of spalling in high rainfall, wind and sea spray regions. Should you identify potential corrosion of cement, reinforcing, or cracks in a wall, ask for a building inspector to come and inspect it. If treated properly, the integrity of the building will remain unaffected.

Source: Property 24