Unit 4: Science and Materials in Construction and the Built Environment. Chapter 26

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1 Chapter 26 Understand Construction Materials and the Techniques used to prevent their Deterioration Deterioration and Failure The following are just some of the common types of failure of construction materials. Many materials have a certain life span and simply wear out and have to be replaced or maintained Corrosion Corrosion occurs mainly with ferrous metals that contain iron and results when iron, water and air comes into contact. When these three are present, rust form on untreated metals turning it an orange colour which stains and runs down surfaces. Corrosion on bolts has to be avoided as this is how structural steelwork is mainly held together. For this reason, bolts are generally manufactured from stainless steel. Chapter 26 Page 1

2 26.2 Electrolytic Action As we have seen earlier, certain metals in the presence of water and other dissimilar metals have an electrolytic action in which one metal corrodes. Care has to be taken when choosing metal roof coverings, such as lead, copper and zinc, and the type of fixings used to hold the materials down onto the roof structure, otherwise you might inadvertently cause long-term corrosion. Many steel-cable suspension bridges contain thousands of steel wires that must be regularly inspected for corrosion to avoid the possibility of a catastrophic failure Fungal Attack Fungi attack timber-based materials in the form of wet rot or dry rot. Dry rot is caused by fungal attack; wet rot is the natural decay of the timber through excessive high moisture content which could be caused by a roof leak. Both lead to structural failure of load bearing timber. Dry rot can travel across concrete and brick walls and is very destructive. The only remedy in both cases is to remove the infected timber and the fungus. Damp, dark, unventilated conditions will encourage the growth of mould on surfaces that are cold spots and surfaces frequently wetted, for example the base of old single-glazed window frames. Chapter 26 Page 2

3 26.4 Insect Attack Insect attacks mainly come from wood - boring beetles, such as death watch beetle or house longhorn beetle. They bore into timber and eat away at the substructure causing severe structural damage, the timber loses its strength internally and eventually crumbles to powder. In 2004 termites were accidentally released into Devon, a warmer area. These are tenacious timber eaters and can easily wreck a timber building Frost Attack Frost occurs when temperatures falls below freezing which causes the freezing of water vapour onto a surface leading to ice crystals to build up. Frost can attack external brickwork at low levels where the brickwork often stays wet, especially below the damp-proof course. Older, more porous brickwork absorbs water into the surface which then freezes when the temperature drops. The freezing of water causes expansion as ice crystals form. This expansion leads to the face of the brickwork shelling off and spalling the brick. Chapter 26 Page 3

4 26.6 Chemical and Sulphate Attacks Chemical attacks occur on stones in the form of acid rain, which gradually wears away the surface of the stone and removing any carved features. Chemical attacks can also occur as traffic fumes contain high emissions from the burning of fuel. In city centres they gradually build up a layer on buildings which can cause discoloration and damage to certain building materials. Sulphate attack is a type of chemical attack, occurring primarily on areas where sulphates can react with the cement in concrete. Sulphate attack can occur on concrete foundations where water collects sulphates from the soil or hardcore fill and attacks and weakens the foundations of the building. Sulphates can also be found in coal-fire chimneys where the combustion of coal leach through the mortar joints of the exposed chimney and weaken the brickwork structure. Chapter 26 Page 4

5 Using Silica Fume to Improve Concrete Sulfate Prior to develop the advantages of using silica fume to improve the concrete sulfate resistance, it may be interesting to highlight the basics form of sulfate attacks and the properties of sulfate resisting cement. The use and deterioration of concrete in environments containing sulfates has led to the development of special sulfate resisting cements. It has also spawned significant research into the use of supplementary cementitious materials to improve sulfate resistance. Sulfate resisting cements (type V) have a low C3A content to minimize the risk off sulfate attack. However, this does not necessarily provide immunity: As certain sulfate react with hydrated lime and the calcium silicate hydrate the sulfate resisting cement provide less protection than expected. Low C3A cements are more susceptible to reinforcement corrosion attack. The basic forms of sulfate attack are the following: The reactive aluminates in the cement will react with the gypsum in cement during hydratation. This process is harmless as the ettringite does not produce expansive forces and is stable in sulfate solutions. If the quantity of reactive aluminates in the cement is too high, then their hydrate form will be available to react with sulfates after the cement has hardened. This will produce expansive ettringite and cracking of the concrete. This article was taken from the following site: Chapter 26 Page 5

6 26.7 Efflorescence Efflorescence is caused by the effect of water moving through a material. For example brick and concrete. As the water migrates through the material, it dissolves soluble salts within the material. As the water evaporates, its salt crystals are left on the surface of the material. Over time, these gradually build up causing a white area of salt on the outside of the material which is obvious to the eye. This type of cosmetic damage generally appears on new buildings and will eventually clear once all the salt is washed out and the building face treated Ultraviolet (UV) Attack Ultraviolet (UV) radiation contained in the sun s rays affects the colours of materials by eventually bleaching out and fading the original colour with time. Timber can especially be affected by UV attacks and will turn into a grey, grainless, aged state if not treated Stress Fatigue Continual stress on structures will eventually lead to the permanent deformation of a structural member. This is very rare in building structures but with ever-taller skyscrapers planned, the stress effects from metal fatigue must now be considered from the force of the wind. Maintenance of the building envelope is essential; if one fixing breaks and is not repaired, then the wind can take hold and complete roofs and wall panels may peel away. Therefore, roof sheeting fixing are a weak point that must be designed by manufacturers to resist upload forces from negative air pressures on leeward sides of buildings. Chapter 26 Page 6

7 26.10 Role of Water in Failure Mechanisms As we have seen, water has a role in failure from its expansion or freezing which causes damage to brickwork. Water, in the form of excessive rain can overflow guttering systems and enter a building causing internal damage. Water also acts under capillary action and can seep through the smallest of cracks. Design of buildings must take into account the force of gravity on water. As water washes down the faces of buildings, it causes staining from the dirt contained within our inner - city environments Preventative Techniques Preventative techniques to control the types of deterioration are listed in Table 1. You should undertake some further research on these in order to satisfy the requirements of the distinction criteria. Chapter 26 Page 7

8 DETERIORATION DAMAGE Corrosion Electrolytic action Fungal attack Insect attack Frost attack Chemical attack Sulphate attack Efflorescence Ultraviolet (UV) attack Stress fatigue Role of water in failure mechanisms Rust Metal breakdown and loss Wet and dry rot Structure of timber eaten away Shelling of outer surface Of brickwork Breakdown of limestone Breakdown of chemical bonds of cement Formation of salt crystals Colour fading Metal fracture and failure Water staining Frost attack Efflorescence Dirt build-up PREVENTION The use of stainless steel Sacrificial anodes Full painting programme Use metals which are similar and will not react with each other Isolation Treated timber Ventilation Removal and replacement of infected timber Prevent moisture entering timber Woodworm chemical treatment Timber treatment using pressure impregnated chemicals Use class B or A engineering bricks below damp-proof course Good design High specification facing brickwork Mortar joint maintenance Replacement of stone with harder material Treatment of surface of stone Use of sulphate-resistance cement Repointing using sulphate-resistant cement mortar Wash down and remove salt Surface treatment with chemicals Quality specification on bricks Known source of sands UV fixed colours resistance to UV light Over design on fixings Factors of safety High strength stainless steel fixings Good design Use of weather drips Overhangs to direct water Regular maintenance of guttering overflows and downpipes Table 1: Techniques to prevent deterioration of construction materials Chapter 26 Page 8

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