Everything You Should Know About Moisture and Bacteria in Concrete
Although moisture and bacteria can damage a slab, they also provide benefits under certain circumstances.
- Moisture and bacteria can damage concrete
- Water is essential to forming a durable slab
- Bacteria can also benefit concrete in some ways
- Having an expert maintain and repair your concrete floors is essential
Concrete has a love-hate relationship with moisture and bacteria. After all, it’s impossible to pour concrete without water, making it a necessary component. However, moisture can also damage a slab and lead to significant repairs.
Bacteria can live pretty much anywhere. Traces of bacteria have been found outside the International Space Station, in the soil of Antarctica, and at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, so its presence inside a concrete slab should be no surprise. Bacteria can damage concrete, but certain types are actually beneficial and can assist the slab as it repairs itself.
Learning about the pros and cons of water and bacteria in these settings can help you as you maintain your floors. Here’s some additional information on moisture and bacteria in concrete.
The negatives of moisture and bacteria in concrete
Concrete needs moisture, but water can also significantly damage a slab. If you end up with water sitting on a concrete floor or running over it, problems are sure to follow.
For starters, water wears away at the inner channels of a concrete floor, eroding it in the process. Much like a river erodes its banks over time, water running inside the pores of a concrete slab or coming up from under it will erode its interior, creating large holes and weakening the structure.
Additionally, too much moisture in concrete can damage the slab through the freeze-thaw process. As the water gets into the pores of a concrete floor and freezes, it will expand. This expansion leads to deterioration and weakens the slab as a whole.
You could experience issues with bacteria in your concrete slabs, too. Although the interior of a concrete floor is an inhospitable place that shouldn’t support any life forms, bacteria can grow there and cause significant damage. These bacteria are often present in the concrete’s main ingredients, but it’s also possible for them to enter the slab through its pores after formation.
As the bacteria grows, it can create an issue called concrete cancer. The gist of concrete cancer is that moisture and bacteria cause the steel reinforcement inside a concrete slab to oxidize and rust. From there, the entire slab will begin to deteriorate.
The main issue with this is that since concrete cancer begins inside the slab, you might not see physical evidence of damage occurring until it’s too late and the entire slab is ruined. The result is significant damage and a costly repair to your concrete floors or structures.
Moisture and bacteria in concrete can be dangerous, but this potential damage is only part of the story. Learning more about these elements gives you a better understanding of your concrete floors.
Why concrete needs moisture
You know that moisture can damage your concrete floors, so it’s best to keep them dry, right? Not so fast! Water is essential when mixing your slab, and you’ll need an ideal amount of moisture present during the curing process to maximize the floor’s durability.
Every batch of concrete has water in it. This moisture is necessary for setting and curing the slab. As the concrete dries, it releases any excess moisture it contains. This extra moisture heads to the slab’s surface, evaporating and leaving behind a more durable slab.
However, not all the moisture evaporates. While some moisture heads to the surface and evaporates from the concrete, some remains inside your floors. It moves through it and forms a gradient effect. This moisture will continue progressing within the slab until it reaches a balanced state called equilibration.
As a result, there will always be some moisture in your concrete floor. The key is to end up with the ideal amount so that the water doesn’t damage the slab or cause it to dry out too much and crack.
The unbelievable benefit bacteria can bring
Although concrete is one of the world’s most common construction materials, very little is actually known about it. Researchers haven’t spent much time digging into its composition and how it reacts to certain environmental factors, but some interesting discoveries could change that.
Findings published in a journal called Materials Today: Proceedings suggest that a bacterium called Bacillus can deposit calcite into a concrete slab when favorable conditions are met. Calcite can bind cracks that form within a concrete slab, offering a noninvasive repair method.
While this research is in its infancy, using bacteria to help concrete heal itself could be an incredible breakthrough that changes how the industry handles repairs.
Bacteria could have another benefit, too, as its presence could warn building owners about the potential for concrete cancer and other structural damage before it’s visible. Different bacteria are present in healthy and deteriorating concrete slabs, so testing the bacteria provides invaluable information on the floor’s health. This helps your contractor make the right decision on the future of your slab.
Having an early warning system in place could help extend the life of your concrete floors, so this information is worth monitoring moving forward.
Have your concrete repaired the right way
You don’t want to take any chances when it comes to your concrete floors. Protecting and maintaining them is an essential part of investing in the material. You’ll also want to begin any repairs that become necessary early on to ensure you get the most from these surfaces. Staying proactive with the maintenance of your floors can provide your business with years of functionality.
Concreate can protect, maintain, and repair your concrete floors, helping you get the most from your investment. We do everything but pour the slab, so we can assist with your surfaces at any point in their lifecycle. Contact us or visit thisisconcrete.com for more information on moisture and bacteria in concrete or to speak with a concrete expert about your next project.