When you’re thinking about waterproofing materials, such as we sell at ProCoat SLC, you’re thinking about safeguarding your project from cracking and spalling. The classical attack on concrete by water in colder climes is from the freeze/thaw cycle, and using waterproofing materials mitigates this damage. However, the Great Salt Lake basin has been booming of late, which is why we set out to help contractors with the best product selection and technical advice in the market, but that boom has had a very visible affect on the local atmosphere.
What’s In That Water?
As you well know, concrete is an aggregate material and can be no better that the sum of its constituents. If salt laden water is used, rebar will be attacked. If beach sand is used, again structural corrosion is a problem and organic bits, like seashell fragments, will eventually dissolve, disrupting the concrete matrix.
Done right, concrete is extremely durable, after all, the Roman Coliseum is made from the stuff, but with the “wrong” chemistry, gentle rainfalls can dissolve even the best concrete over time.
It’s no secret that the air quality in our region has been very poor at times, filled with particles of combustion, volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, and one compound we will focus upon, sulphur dioxide. The air pollution around the basin can form rain droplets that are literally breaking down uncoated or poorly protected concrete.
The sulphur dioxide pumped into our shared sky by both vehicular and industrial hydrocarbon combustion easily dissolves into solution when it comes into contact with water droplets. When this polluted water falls as rain, and is not shed by old waterproofing materials, or falls on untreated concrete and penetrates it, the rain droplets begin working an irreversible chemical attack on the aggregate and its binders, weakening the concrete over time.
The water involved is really now a sulfate solution that attacks the bound calcium-based bonds of the concrete, accentuating cracks, promoting expansion, and altering chemical bonds by forming gypsum, which certainly doesn’t promote the strength of the concrete matrix.
Coat That Concrete
Until we arrive at a cleaner air future around the Great Salt Lake, concrete everywhere, in every application, is under attack. To prevent against premature degradation you should convince your clients that waterproofing materials are not just for decking. Wind blown rain, falling as a sulfate solution, will certainly corrupt the bonds of vertically oriented concrete if it is left unchecked.
If you ever have a technical question about waterproofing materials, feel free to contact our Salt Lake City contractor desk today at 801-410-4345 to discuss your project specs.