How to Avoid Cracks in Your Concrete
Cracking is one of the most common causes of customer complaints that Concrete Contractor Bell Canyon CA contractors deal with. Few homeowners are aware of the fact that new concrete normally cracks and there is no absolute guarantee against this. Nevertheless, while cracks cannot be entirely prevented, a professional concrete mason takes careful measures to minimise cracking.
Below are some of the common causes of concrete cracks that must be considered and the necessary preventive actions that should be taken.
There is excess water content in the concrete mix.
Adding too much water to the concrete makes the installation much easier but if the water content is more than enough, it will greatly weaken the concrete. Water content is also a major factor that affects drying shrinkage, which simply refers to the concrete shrinking when it hardens and dries. This happens because the excess water in the mix evaporates. Therefore, you can expect greater shrinkage the more water the mix has. When concrete shrinks, the slabs are pulled apart, resulting to cracks.
Solution: It is best to use the lowest required amount that will allow workability with the cement. Also, find out the maximum amount of water that is allowable for the cement mix that you are using so you can check if the consistency is overly wet. Additionally, avoid using high-shrinkage and small coarse aggregates. Professionals also install control, construction and isolation joints that help make the concrete crack at a predetermined spot.
The concrete is drying too quickly.
The drying process of concrete involves a chemical reaction that turns concrete from liquid to solid. Water is a requirement in this chemical reaction, which is aptly known as hydration. Hydration happens over days and weeks after pouring the concrete. Cracking happens when the drying process occurs too rapidly.
Solution: Adequate curing of the concrete is a must to ensure there is sufficient water for proper hydration to allow the concrete to achieve its maximum strength. Curing will also hold off drying shrinkage until the concrete has gained resistance to shrinkage. Chemical curing methods and the use of coverings such as canvas or burlap to retain moisture are some of the techniques used in curing concrete.
The concrete installed is not the proper strength.
Concrete comes at different strengths. Cracks can occur when you use the wrong strength concrete for your project.
Solution: Consult with your ready-mix concrete supplier to ensure that you choose the strength concrete that is appropriate for your specific use.
Another factor that can lead to cement cracks includes fluctuations in temperature. In a concrete driveway, for instance, the sudden changes in temperature could make the interior concrete expand with heat while the concrete surface cools and contracts. Such temperature differences when they become significant result to cement cracks. The settling of soil underneath the concrete also leads to cracking as the concrete foundation is no longer evenly supported. Corrosion of metal reinforcements eventually leads to cement cracks, too.
For all of these reasons, the best preventive action for customers is to make sure that the concrete installation is performed by an experienced concrete professional. It is also a great idea to educate yourselves about the facts of cement cracking so you would know if a crack should be a cause for concern.