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Why is Salt Corroding My Concrete Floor?

 

If you live in Canada, dealing with snow and concrete de-icers in the winter can feel like a necessary and annoying evil. De-icers like rock salt can wreak havoc on your cars, your clothes, and even the concrete you walk on. While there’s not much you can do about the damage it does to your car and clothes, you can protect your concrete floors, sidewalks, and steps from the corrosive damage of de-icers.

 

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How Salt Causes Damage to Concrete

There are three main ways that salt ruins concrete:

  • Melts and Freezes the Ice
    • Salt only melts snow and ice, it does not get rid of them
    • As they melt, the snow/ice mixes with the de-icer forming salt water
    • This salt water has a lower freezing temperature and therefore seeps into the porous concrete
    • As temperatures drop the salt water eventually freezes in the concrete causing it to expand, creating:
      • Chips
      • Flaking
      • Spalling
      • Pitting
      • Cracking
  • Crystallization and Subflorescence
    • As the moisture evaporates from the concrete the salt remains in its cracks
      • Eventually the salt recrystallizes in the pores of the concrete causing:
        • Flaking
          • Spalling
          • This process is called subflorescence
      • Rebar Metal
        • Salt corrodes rebar metal
          • If rebar metal is present in concrete the salt will corrode and rust it
          • The rust will create pressure on the surrounding concrete causing:
            • Spalling
              • Cracking
              • Pitting
              • As the concrete gets more cracks it becomes more susceptible to salt, which makes it break down faster

            How To Protect Your Concrete From Salt Damage

            • When installing concrete make sure that it is high quality and installed using the best techniques and practices
            • Use de-icers properly: apply just enough to loosen ice and snow, then remove it with a shovel or plow
            • Get a concrete treatment (e.g. epoxy coatings)
              • The treatment will seep into the pores of your concrete and will harden into a glasslike seal
              • This will prevent saltwater from seeping into the concrete, where the real damage is done
              • It won't break down when its exposed to salts, cold temperatures, or spilled chemicals
              • Also makes shoveling snow and ice easier if your floor is exposed to the outdoor

             

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