Seawalls protect your valuable waterfront property from the relentless forces of oceans, lakes, and rivers. Most seawalls are primarily made of concrete and are designed to withstand the harsh marine environment. But even the strongest seawalls are not invincible. Let’s take a closer look at concrete spalling, an issue that can compromise the integrity of waterfront barriers.
Hidden Threat: Spalling in Concrete Seawalls
Spalling occurs when the surface of a concrete structure starts to crack, flake, or peel away. This damage can be caused by corrosion and swelling of steel reinforcement, repeated freeze-thaw cycles, or other forms of structural stress. Cracks, pits, and other types of surface and internal concrete damage weaken your seawall’s structure and make it more susceptible to further harm.
The Vulnerable Point: Seawall Caps
The seawall cap is a critical component that is particularly vulnerable to spalling. Typically made of steel-reinforced concrete, these caps form the top layer of a seawall. They play a crucial role in protecting the rest of your seawall from the elements and providing a safe and stable surface. Movement of your seawall can be triggered by factors like soil migration and will cause instability and shifting. The steel reinforcement in the seawall cap can become stressed, leading to spalling that causes the concrete to break apart and crumble.
The Need for Timely Intervention
Spalling of your seawall cap can worsen over time if left unattended, potentially resulting in more severe problems such as structural failure. It is crucial to enlist a qualified marine contractor to repair spalling as soon as it appears. The repair process typically involves removing the damaged sections of concrete and repairing them with cementitious patching material.
Spalling is a very common issue. Understanding what it is and how it can be repaired is essential. For more information on spotting potential issues with your waterfront barrier, see the article Four Critical Warning Signs of Seawall Failure.