What to Do When Your Industrial Concrete Floors Crack
Concrete floors are bound to crack over time. They cure, and then they settle, sometimes resulting in a cracked surface or slab.
Once a crack exists, it can be worsened by other routine activities and common events. Things like moisture seeping into the cracks, exposure to oils or chemicals that contaminate or corrode the floor, poor cleaning due to existing cracks, and vehicles driving over the cracked surfaces will all aggravate cracks in a concrete floor.
There are many reasons why concrete floors crack. The important thing is that when it happens, you know what you should and should not do. If you choose to ignore or neglect those guidelines, then your concrete will continue to worsen until it needs concrete repair or concrete replacement.
It should also be noted that concrete crumbles over time just like any other material but this is normal for concrete floors which are able to withstand heavy traffic, forklifts and other equipment without breaking up entirely.
If your concrete floor has already cracked, the best thing you can do is keep it dry, prevent concrete polishing and concrete resurfacing from further damaging the concrete.
Is that a crack in the floor or a joint?
Cracks in concrete floors are sometimes the result of poor concrete finishing techniques or ground settling. They can also be due to abuse and thermal movement. Cracks can be repaired, but it is best to investigate and understand their root cause so you don’t repeat the problem at a later date.
Do you know what your concrete floor’s joint system looks like? Knowing is part of understanding whether damage to the concrete floor is a crack or a joint.
Concrete produces cracks as it cures, as it dries out (called shrinkage), and as loads are applied to the concrete (called cracking). Cracks in concrete floors can appear during concrete finishing, or afterwards from thermal movement and/or abuse such as heavy loads or vehicle traffic on the concrete surface. Cracks typically appear first in new concrete and gradually disappear as concrete cures and stabilizes, but this process can take several months.
How do you NOT repair a cracked concrete floor?
Some concrete crack patterns are visible immediately. Concrete floor cracks can occur in concrete floors due to concrete shrinkage, which is often caused by the drying of curing concrete. For example, if concrete finishing occurs while the concrete is still wet or during cold weather, it can cause cracking because water inside concrete becomes ice when exposed to cold temperatures. This ice exerts great pressure on concrete, sometimes forcing concrete to crack. If concrete cracks due to drying and shrinkage, these cracks will usually be sparse and not follow any pattern.
Other concrete floor cracks patterns are more visible as the concrete gains strength over time. Cracks in concrete floors may also separate as a result of settlement from the weight of concrete or other structures on top of concrete. In these instances, concrete cracks will have a form of a pattern and be more visible.
The best way to repair concrete floor cracks is to first determine the cause of concrete cracking. If concrete cracks as a result of drying and shrinking, no method will completely resolve the issue. Only causes that result in concrete cracks such as settlement will resolve concrete floor cracks.If concrete shrinking and drying causes concrete floor cracks, the best way to repair concrete floor cracks is through concrete resurfacing or concrete polishing.
For any expensive renovation involving a concrete floor, the trick is to choose a smart type of epoxy coating finish that can be applied on concrete floor in a way that can give concrete the shine it deserves. Epoxy concrete coating is a cost-effective concrete solution that can be applied to concrete to form a smooth and even surface, which will help restore concrete floors to their original luster.
Causes of Cracks in Concrete Floors:
- A) Heating and Cooling Losses caused by poor insulation, lack of insulation or loss of thermal properties due to wear over time will allow the floor to crack. This can be seen when comparing new buildings with old buildings that have not had any maintenance on the floor heating or cooling systems.
HVAC Systems can also crack floors due to lack of proper support and most likely the age of the system itself. Most older HVAC systems do not have enough deflection (flexibility) in their structure allowing for precise expansion and contraction during heating and cooling changes causing excessive stress on the slab.
- B) Settlement can also cause cracks in floor slabs. When the building is taking its natural shape due to the raw ground below it, settling and stress on all amenities such as water lines, electrical conduits and plumbing systems will lead to cracking. If these utilities are not properly supported or encased within a grade beam there could be enough stress on the floor slabs to cause cracking due to settlement.
Methods for Concrete Floor Crack Repair:
- A) Control Joints are created at predetermined intervals during the initial pour of a slab. They are designed with saw cut grooves cemented with mortar or concrete sealants that can be pushed deeper into the joints when needed (i.e. during expansion or contraction). This allows the edges of the slab to expand and contract without cracking along the joints.
- B) Flexible Joint Fillers are used to fill minor cracks (1/8th in width or less). They will allow enough movement in certain areas for expansion and contraction while still providing a fluid-tight seal.
- C) Expansion Joints (if your floor is concrete slab on grade) are placed between concrete slabs where there is no chance of movement or settlement affecting the crack repair. If this is not possible due to proximity of walls or other portions of the building, you may need to replace damaged areas with epoxy injection. Flexible Floor Coating is an excellent option as well.
- D) Hot Oil Treatment for Cracked Concrete Floors can also be used to help reduce cracking that doesn’t need a full replacement. This technique adds oil which expands and contracts with the slab allowing it to move without creating new cracks or pinholes in the surface of the finish