It’s true that concrete chipping can be either cosmetic or structural. If it’s cosmetic, you can probably fix it easily; if it’s structural, the fix could be much more difficult. The ability to tell the two apart is crucial for your concrete.
These are the questions you should ask to determine significance when it comes to concrete chipping and foundation spalling.
What Type of Foundation Do You Have?
If you’re looking at a chipping foundation, it’s extremely important to note what type of foundation you have. The process of foundation spalling repair can differ based on your specific foundation type.
The two types of concrete foundations are typically a poured foundation or a concrete block. While a poured foundation can handle much more spalling before it becomes a serious issue, a concrete block can’t really handle that problem.
Anyone who has a concrete block foundation that’s experiencing spalling should contact a JES expert as soon as possible. If left unattended, this can easily develop into a structural problem even if it didn’t start as one.
How Long Have You Been Dealing with a Chipping Foundation?
You should contact an expert early if you’re experiencing serious chipping problems. Unfortunately, some people don’t tackle it early and instead just wait until the damage gets too severe to ignore.
This is especially important if you were first handling a small amount of chipping, but it’s since expanded. Just like any problem that is ignored, a problem that started out small and manageable may have developed into a serious structural problem.
Especially if this is something that’s been happening for a long time, it’s a good idea to pay attention to concrete chipping and its significance. Don’t wait until the concrete is completely destroyed. Instead, talk to a JES expert.
Are There Cracks Around the Foundation Spalling?
The foundation spalling itself may simply be a cosmetic issue, but it can also provide a hold for other structural problems to start. If you’re starting to see cracks around the spalling, that showcases a serious problem.
The freeze-thaw cycling doesn’t just cause spalling and minor issues. If it takes hold deep inside the concrete, that freezing and thawing can start to create and increase actual cracks inside your foundation, which you’ll see reflected around the spalling.
In general, regardless of the reason for the cracks, you should get in contact with a concrete foundation repair expert from JES as soon as you start to see cracks more than about an eighth of an inch in width. Foundation cracks may need attention as soon as they’re wider than a sixteenth of an inch.
Where Is the Concrete Chipping?
As previously mentioned, chipping outside is much more common than chipping inside. It’s more likely that you have structural problems if you’re experiencing internal chipping rather than external chipping because the problems are more likely to run deeper and be in your foundation.
However, even inside, the area of your foundation in which you’re experiencing spalling matters. Is it at ground level? Is it near the middle of the wall or toward a gutter? Poor drainage can cause excess water, which can cause more foundation spalling.
In these cases, especially if there are no serious cracks, you may simply need to extend the downspouts and pay attention to the drainage. Of course, if you do start noting serious cracks, or if this doesn’t fix the problem, talk to an expert.
How Deep Is the Spalling in the Foundation?
This is one of the most important questions to ask. Shallow patches of foundation chipping are more likely to be just cosmetic. That’s because these patches don’t reach deep enough into the foundation to affect the actual foundation. Spalling can be compared to getting a skinned knee or scratch. If only the top skin layer is affected, it is mostly cosmetic. However, if the scratch is deeper, it bleeds more and can be dangerous or even fatal.
How deep does it need to be before you should contact an expert? That can vary depending on the actual concrete. However, surface issues typically only impact a very shallow and short-reaching area of the concrete, which means you won’t usually see cosmetic problems all the way across the foundation.
A good rule of thumb is to talk to an expert when you start seeing cracks or chips in the foundation that are an eighth of an inch or larger. For foundations at higher risk, get in contact if the area is one-sixteenth of an inch or larger.
Can You See Stains Surrounding the Foundation Chipping?
This is most typical for foundation spalling that happens inside. When you start seeing the spalling, look around it. Do you see any white chalky powder or brown stains inside or on the edges of the foundation chipping?
The white chalky powder is efflorescence, and the brown staining is acid damage. If you see either of these, it means the area is letting in water from the outside due to hydrostatic pressure. That means it’s time to talk to a waterproofing expert.