What is Foundation Spalling?

foundation spalling brick wallSpalling is the deterioration of the concrete or masonry around your home as a result of water entering into brick, concrete or natural stone and cause the foundation to push outward, flake and peel. It is not a cosmetic problem as it can cause severe structural damage or even bring down the entire building so it should be taken seriously.

Spalling can occur after an extended period of heavy rains where the floods take a long time to dry up or in basements where moisture and salt are not controlled. Poor installation, structural overloading and failure to mix the ingredients well can also cause spalling.

Concrete spalling, on the other hand, occurs when there is corrosion of the steel reinforcements used to provide strength to the foundation. Too much salt in the soil is the main culprit in concrete spalling so you should cover the steel reinforcements with alkaline dense concrete.

Signs of Foundation Spalling

Though you cannot see the foundation damage from outside, the concrete around your house will be affected if something is happening in the structure. If there is damage to the foundation, the soil beneath the concrete will start moving, and this will begin to affect many aspects of your house. A house going through this form of deterioration is likely to have these signs;

  • Cracking walls and floors
  • Breaking ceiling
  • Sloping floor
  • Leaning walls
  • Leaning chimney
  • Sticking windows and doors
  • Efflorescence in concrete walls

How does a foundation spalling form?

Spalling forms when efflorescence causes the internal salt and minerals to rise to the surface of brick or concrete for an extended period.

As established earlier, water is the primary cause of spalling. The spalling can be caused by water hitting the wall directly during heavy rains, water spilling from the gutters or roof surface, water picked up from damp soil, or when moisture enters the foundation in the form of vapor escaping from the building.

Whether the water is coming from up or from beneath the surface, if it is trapped near the surface of the foundation, the water will freeze or thaw inside the concrete and start to damage the foundation.

Thawing happens mostly in places where the weather is cold. Any trapped water in colder climates evaporates slower, causing the water to freeze and expand, which also creates spalling. The extent of deterioration will depend on how often thawing happens, how well the bricks are sealed, and how much wetness is there.

How can you fix a foundation spalling?

Fixing the damage depends on how extensive the damage is. If minor spalling is evident, you can have it fixed in the following ways;

  • Remove the spalled concrete to remove all dirt and loose surface
  • Treat any reinforced steel to prevent it from rusting
  • Saturate the concrete with bonding agent before applying mortar and brush finish to match existing concrete
  • Cover the concrete with a damp cloth or keep a sprinkler on for a few days, so it doesn’t dry out too fast

If the damage is severe, a structural engineer will have to replace the affected wall. Contact Done Right Foundation Repair to get a professional inspection of your foundation and viable solution.