Crack Repair in Concrete (4)

concrete repair

Methods of Crack Repair in Concrete (4)

Following the evaluation of the cracked structure, a suitable repair procedure can be selected. Successful repair procedures take into account the cause(s) of the cracking. For example, if the cracking was primarily due to drying shrinkage, then it is likely that after a period of time the cracks will stabilize. On the other hand, if the cracks are due to a continuing foundation settlement, repair will be of no use until the settlement problem is corrected. In this series of articles under the title of “Methods of Crack Repair in Concrete“, the different techniques applied to repair cracks are discussed. This article includes Crack Arrest, Polymer Impregnation, and Overlay and Surface Treatment.

⇒ Crack Arrest

During construction of massive concrete structures, cracks due to surface cooling or other causes may develop and propagate into new concrete as construction progresses. Such cracks may be arrested by blocking the crack and spreading the tensile stress over a larger area.

A piece of bond-breaking membrane or a grid of steel mat may be placed over the crack as concreting continues. A semicircular pipe placed over the crack may also be used (Figure 1). A description of installation procedures for semicircular pipes used during the construction of a massive concrete structure follows: (1) The semicircular pipe is made by splitting an 200-mm, 16- gage pipe and bending it to a semicircular section with about a 75-mm flange on each side; (2) the area in the vicinity of the crack is cleaned; (3) the pipe is placed in sections so as to remain centered on the crack; (4) the sections are then welded together; (5) holes are cut in the top of the pipe to receive grout pipes; and (6) after setting the grout pipes, the installation is covered with concrete placed concentrically over the pipe by hand. The installed grout pipes are used for grouting the crack at a later date, thereby restoring all or a portion of the structural continuity.

Crack arrest method of crack repair
Figure 1: Crack arrest method of crack repair

⇒ Polymer Impregnation

Monomer systems can be used for effective repair of some cracks. A monomer system is a liquid consisting of monomers which will polymerize into a solid. Suitable monomers have varying degrees of volatility, toxicity and flammability, and they do not mix with water. They are very low in viscosity and will soak into dry concrete, filling the cracks, much as water does. The most common monomer used for this purpose is methyl methacrylate.

Monomer systems used for impregnation contain a catalyst or initiator plus the basic monomer (or combination of monomers). They may also contain a crosslinking agent. When heated, the monomers join together, or polymerize, creating a tough, strong, durable plastic that greatly enhances a number of concrete properties.

If a cracked concrete surface is dried, flooded with the monomer, and polymerized in place, some of the cracks will be filled and structurally repaired. However, if the cracks contain moisture, the monomer will not soak into the concrete at each crack face, and consequently, the repair will be unsatisfactory. If a volatile monomer evaporates before polymerization, it will be ineffective. Polymer impregnation has not been used successfully to repair fme cracks. Polymer impregnation has primarily been used to provide more durable, impermeable surfaces.

Badly fractured beams have been repaired using polymer impregnation. The procedure consists of drying the fracture, temporarily encasing it in a watertight (monomer proof) band of sheet metal, soaking the fractures with monomer, and polymerizing the monomer. Large voids or broken areas in compression zones can be filled with fine and coarse aggregate before being flooded with monomer, providing a polymer concrete repair.

⇒  Overlay and Surface Treatments

Fine surface cracks in structural slabs and pavements may be repaired using either a bonded overlay or surface treatment if there will not be further significant movement across the cracks. Unbonded overlays may be used to cover, but not necessarily repair a slab. Overlays and surface treatments can be appropriate for cracks caused by one-time occurrences and which do not completely
penetrate the slab. These techniques are not appropriate for repair of progressive cracking, such as that induced by reactive aggregates, and D-cracking.

Slabs-on-grade in freezing climates should not be repaired by an overlay or surface treatment that is a vapor barrier. An impervious barrier will cause condensation of moisture passing from the subgrade, leading to critical saturation of the concrete and rapid disintegration during cycles of freezing and thawing

Surface Treatments

Low solids and and low-viscosity resin-based systems have been used to seal the concrete surfaces, including treatment of very fine cracks. They are most suited for surfaces not subject to significant wear.

Bridge decks and parking structure slabs, as well as other interior slabs may be coated effectively after cracks are treated by injecting with epoxy or by routing and sealing. Materials such as urethanes, epoxies, polyesters, and acrylics have been applied in thickness of 1 to 50 mm, depending on the material and purpose of the treatment. Skid-resistant aggregates are often mixed into the material or broadcast onto the surface to improve traction


Slabs containing find dormant cracks can be repaired by applying an overlay, such as polymer modified portland cement mortar or concrete, or by silica fume concrete. Slabs with working cracks can be overlaid if joints are placed in the overlay directly over the working cracks. In highway bridge applications, an overlay thickness as low as 30 mm has been used successfully. Suitable polymers include styrene butadiene or acrylic latexes. The resin solids should be at least 15 percent by weight of the portland cement, with 20 percent usually being optimum.

The surface to be overlaid should be cleaned to remove laitance, carbonated or otherwise weak material, or contaminants, such as grease or oil. A bond coat consisting of the mortar fraction broom-applied, or an epoxy adhesive should be applied immediately before placing the overlay. Since polymer-modified concretes normally solidify rapidly, continuous batching and mixing equipment should be used. Polymer-modified overlays should be mixed, placed and finished rapidly (within 15 min in warm weather). A 24-hr moist curing is typical for these overlays.

Methods of Crack Repair (1)

Methods of Crack Repair (2)

Methods of Crack Repair (3)

Source:  ACI 224.1R-93: Causes, Evaluation and Repair of Cracks in Concrete Structures


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