Whether you’re a new homeowner or working in the construction industry, you will have a vested interest in the maintenance of your structural foundations. Home design changes over the years which is why new rules and regulations are dictated for how builders and developers can meet structural requirements to match the best safety standards of today. concrete structures are expected to last quite a while, but only with the set and adequate guidelines.
But when all this is said and done, does this guarantee the future stability of your home? Staying informed with the latest materials, and technology, being implemented in concrete maintenance is all part of your due diligence.
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The History of Concrete
While many ancient cultures used concrete sporadically, it was the Romans that popularised the use of the material in the ancient world with their widespread use of it as a core material in their construction of aqueducts, bathhouses, and roads.
The Roman’s special mixture of concrete included ingredients like slaked lime, volcanic rock, and alkaline seawater. Such is the success of their incredible mixture that many of their buildings are still standing today after more than 2000 years.
How Long Does Modern Concrete Last?
While the Roman structures have stood the test of time, theirs is an exception to the regulations of the building industry. Most concrete is expected to last on average 30 years, and upwards of 100 years.
Extending the Life of Concrete
There are numerous products that can strengthen, repair and protect concrete. Whether your concrete was recently poured, or if it is beginning to show signs of weathering and age these concrete repair products in Australia can be affordable and accessible, and with good fortune, your structure may become a monument to rival the longevity of the Romans.
Factors That Influence the Lifespan of Concrete
The variable lifespan of concrete is affected by several key factors, which you may want to consider before building or buying. These factors, while not insignificant, may have massive implications on the lifespan of a building.
Concrete expands and contracts with the changing of temperatures by about 10 millionths per degree Celsius. Expansion joints are used in bridges and buildings to compensate for the changing state of the material.
However, under extreme temperatures for extended periods of time, especially during those summer months, concrete can develop micro-cracks similar to hairline fractures in bones. These micro-cracks can worsen over time with moisture.
Moisture Build Up
The most common form of moisture buildup in concrete comes from water rising from below the slab. Excess water in the slab reduces the relative compressive strength of concrete, affecting its durability.
This can lead to cracking and crumbling. Furthermore, water attracts microbial growth which produces bacteria, mildew, and toxic black mold. In addition to weakening the durability of concrete, this can pose an immediate health hazard and it is recommended that this is treated immediately.
Over time erosion can cause structural instability in concrete. This can be further disturbed by excess water flow, especially on inclined foundations such as hills.
According to the International Journal of Concrete Structures and Materials “Mass loss by erosion is more affected by the inclination than by the height. In 40 years of exposure, erosion can remove up to 70% of the concrete coverage.”
Old Properties with Hidden Wear and Tear
One of the hidden risks of purchasing older property is the unknown condition of the structural materials. Roofing and exterior damage may be obvious to the naked eye, however, foundation deterioration such as hidden fractures or support weakening may leave you with some hidden aftermarket expenses.
When it comes to the condition of your property’s foundations, you may want to consult a concrete surveyor to get an expert assessment.
Concrete manufacturers follow strict guidelines for making and mixing concrete, so much so that the mix is adjusted regionally to meet the demands of drier and wetter conditions.
Concrete is expected to last a very long time, which is why it is used in the foundations and load-bearing supports of almost all modern structures and homes. With the right care and maintenance concrete will reach its expected lifetime.