Corrosion of Steel in Concrete: Understanding, Investigation by John P. Broomfield

By John P. Broomfield

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A review carried out by the Cement and Concrete Association under a BRE Contract Publ. BRE Garston,Watford, UK: 1987, Jul. concrete can be due to: ● ● ● deliberate addition of chloride set accelerators (calcium chloride CaCl2 was widely used until the mid-1970s); use of seawater in the mix; contaminated aggregates. ). Much of our discussion will centre on the diffusion of chlorides into concrete as that is the major problem in most parts of the world either due to marine salt spray or use of deicing salts.

On a microscopic scale well cured concrete has small pores and lower connectivity of pores to the CO2 has a harder job moving through the concrete. Microsilica and other additives can block pores or reduce pores sizes. Carbonation is common on old structures, badly built structures (particularly buildings) and reconstituted stone elements containing reinforcement (often having a low cement content and being very porous). Carbonation is rare on modern highway bridges and other civil engineering structures where water cement ratios are low, cement contents are high with good compaction and curing and enough cover to prevent the carbonation front advancing into the concrete to any significant extent.

These may be detailed and extensive, for instance in the case of major highway bridges. Alternatively they may be non-existent or illegible in the case of older buildings and structures with multiple previous owners. The desk study may reveal areas at risk, and help plan the investigation. Access requirements can be evaluated from the desk study. 2 Preliminary survey This normally involves a visual inspection, probing of cracks and spalls to see their extent, reinforcement cover measurement, possibly a few carbonation measurements, reference electrode measurements and taking samples (sometimes taking broken pieces of concrete rather than coring) for laboratory testing.

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