CONCRETE CRACKING WHO IS TO BLAME?

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1 CONCRETE CRACKING WHO IS TO BLAME? By Christopher Stanley TECHNICAL DIRECTOR UNIBETON READY MIX

2 CRACKING FACTS (Concrete Society Technical Report Number 22, non-structural cracks in concrete) If a concrete is either cooled or dried, then provided it is free from restraint, it will reduce in length and no cracks will develop Cracks will not form unless there is some form of restraint Because it acts as a form of internal restraint, reinforcement governs the spacing and width of cracks in hardened concrete but reinforcement does not have the same effect in plastic concrete

3 CRACK ASSESSMENT Usually based on: Critical viewing distance and personal viewpoint Type of structure, often using an arbitrary or prestige scale (e.g monumental or public buildings, commercial buildings and car parks, public paving, driveways, private housing) Cracks can be classified thus Fine cracks - up to 1mm wide Wide cracks - from 1mm to 6mm wide Fractures - over 6mm wide It is sometimes specified or implied that crack widths of up to 0.3mm are aesthetically acceptable

4 All concrete cracks but some can be prevented

5 CRACK CLASSIFICATION CRACKS OCCURING BEFORE HARDENING CRACKS OCCURING AFTER HARDENING PLASTIC CRACKS PLASTIC SHRINKAGE PLASTIC SETTLEMENT CONSTRUCTION MOVEMENT FORMWORK MOVEMENT STRUCTURAL CRACKS DESIGN LOADS CREEP ACCIDENTAL OVERLOAD CHEMICAL THERMAL CRACKS EARLY AGE THERMAL CONTRACTION EXTERNAL RESTRAINT INTERNAL TEMPERATURE GRADIENTS PHYSICAL CRACKS DRYING SHRINKAGE CRAZING SHRINKABLE AGGREGATE SUB-GRADE MOVEMENT CEMENT CARBONATION ALKALI-AGGREGATE REACTIONS CORROSION OF REINFORCEMENT EXTERNAL SEASONAL TEMPERATURE VARIATIONS FREEZE/THAW CYCLES

6 TYPE OF CRACK - time of appearance REF * FORM, LOCATION, etc. PRIMARY/SECONDARY CAUSES REMEDY * * PLASTIC SETTLEMENT TYPE A Cracks over reinforcement in deep sections Excess bleeding (PC) Reduce bleeding 10 minutes to three hours TYPE B Arching cracks in columns Re-vibrate TYPE C Cracks at change of depth in slab/beam sections Rapid early drying conditions Add Air entrainment PLASTIC SHRINKAGE TYPE D Diagonal cracks in roads and slabs Rapid early drying (PC) 30 minutes to six hours TYPE E Random cracks in reinforced slabs Low rate of bleeding Improve early curing TYPE F Cracks over reinforcement in slabs Ditto and steel near surface EARLY THERMAL CONTRACTION TYPE G External restraint cracks in thick walls or columns Excess heat generation (PC) rapid cooling Reduce heat and/or insulate One day to three weeks TYPE H Internal restraint cracks in thick slabs Excess temperature gradients, rapid cooling LONG TERM DRYING SHRINKAGE weeks - months TYPE I Cracking in thin slabs and walls Inefficient joints (PC) Excess shrinkage and inefficient curing Reduce water content Improve curing CRAZING TYPE J Cracks off the form in fair-faced concrete Impermeable formwork, rich mixes, poor curing Improve curing and finishing 1-7 days sometimes much later TYPE K Cracks in power- floated slabs over-trowelling.

7 restraint restraint restraint SIMPLE CRACK MODEL Initial state after pouring If dried out or cooled with partial or no restraint Restraint - short term effects no restraint Contraction without stress Free to shrink Crack relieves tension Restraint Medium/long term effects Tension!

8 Common crack types Plastic shrinkage cracking (Type A) Caused by BLEEDING ( A special case of sedimentation - T.C.Powers, 1939) The phenomenon of water rising to the surface of plastic concrete, caused by gravity pulling heavier particles downward, the latter being known as sedimentation bleed water evaporates - volume change - shrinkage - tension - restraint - crack? Sedimentation Bleeding is not a result of poor compaction, and it cannot be eliminated by improved compaction

9 PLASTIC SETTLEMENT CRACKS Type A cracks Water void formed under steel desiccation - water evaporates leaving dry void

10 PLASTIC SETTLEMENT CRACKS Type C cracks Settlement cracks occurring at changes in slab depth

11 PLASTIC SHRINKAGE CRACKS Tension Item cast into slab acts as crack inducement - crack follows line of least resistance Uneven sub base acts as crack inducement - crack follows line of least resistance Type E - random

12 PLASTIC SHRINKAGE CRACKS Type F over reinforcement Tension Insufficient reinforcement cover? (cracks induced by steel proximity to surface which is in tension due to rapid drying) Differentiated from plastic settlement cracks because plastic shrinkage cracks tend to pass through slab depth

13 Plastic Shrinkage Cracking

14 Plastic Shrinkage Cracking

15 Plastic Shrinkage Cracking

16 Plastic Shrinkage Cracking

17 Plastic Shrinkage Cracking

18 Thermal cracking - specification Question - Why 70 C max. temperature? Past experience with mass concrete and accelerated curing e.g. in precasting suggests that the quality of the cement hydrate at elevated temperatures >70 C is inferior to that in a normally cured concrete so mechanical strength tends to be lower - in addition a phenomenon known as Delayed Ettringite Formation (DEF) may affect durability Question - why require a maximum temperature differential of 20 C? Raw materials for concrete expand at different rates when heated up - this may lead to micro-cracking when the respective coefficients of expansion of cement paste and aggregates are significantly different in some cases Most aggregates can absorb a degree of strain from temperature movements ( tensile strain capacity ) therefore it does not automatically follow that aggregates with significantly different E. coef.are going to cause or influence cracking. 20 C taken as a conservative limit on differentials due to lack of knowledge of local aggregate expansion coefficients

19 EARLY THERMAL CONTRACTION CRACKS Core temperature Temperature C Temperature differential 20 C? Surface temperature 20 C >20 C? Higher Temperature differential - Possibility of cracks? Time after casting - hours

20 EARLY THERMAL CHANGES - 24 HOURS Ambient temperature say 35 C? Insulation provided by formwork? Formwork temperature say 55 C Cover to Insulate? Heat and Expansion 75 C? Insulation provided by formwork? No edge restraint Free to shrink? Sections > 0.5m thick considered Self-Insulating Maybe base restraint from mature concrete or sub base material

21 EARLY REMOVAL OF FORMWORK - THERMAL SHOCK Tension - Plastic shrinkage Core Heat say 75 C Remove forms early? Rapid cooling to ambient temperature say 35 C? Tension! Expansion Tension! Rapid cooling to ambient temperature say 35 C? Remove forms early? BASE RESTRAINT

22 METHODS EMPLOYED TO REDUCE EARLY AGE THERMAL CRACKING METHOD CONTRIBUTION DISADVANTAGE Pour concrete continuously Pour concrete at night Delay removal of formwork Improves uniformity of pouring temperatures Negligible.Depends on speed and volume placed and nature of hydration of cement Significant contribution Prevents thermal shock Allows uniform controlled cooling to take place Places additional demands on production and handling Extra logistical considerations for night working Formwork re-use delayed Use insulated curing methods Significant reduction in temperature differentials. Enables more uniform temperature rise and fall Large scale use of insulation materials may be expensive

23 METHODS EMPLOYED TO REDUCE EARLY AGE THERMAL CRACKING METHOD CONTRIBUTION DISADVANTAGE Install sacrificial cooling system in the concrete in the concrete mass Reduce design strength margin or observe 60 or 90 day compliance Use superplastisizing admixtures Use admixtures formulated for hydration control and/or significantly increase dosage Depends on efficiency of cooling system Significance based on amount of cement reduced Can significantly reduce cement content. Significance dependant on amount of reduction achieved Can significantly reduce cement content,delay hydration and reduce peak temperatures Very wasteful. Durability problems from embedded pipes 28 day requirements? Durability may be compromised Extra cost of superplasticizer over normal admixture cost Extra cost of admixture over normal admixture Setting times extended Formwork removal may be delayed

24 METHODS EMPLOYED TO REDUCE EARLY AGE THERMAL CRACKING METHOD CONTRIBUTION DISADVANTAGE Use chilled water to partly or wholly replace mixing water Significant -4 o C water temperature = Approx - 1 o C concrete temperature Plant equipment expensive. Consumption usually exceeds supply capacity. Storage tanks usually required Use ice to partly or wholly replace mixing water Nitrogen gas injection Significant 50% ice = approximately -10 o C concrete temperature 100% ice = approximately - 17 o C Depends on quantity of Nitrogen gas injected Usually expensive. Handling difficult, must be weighed. May not be available in remote areas. Expensive Handling difficult in remote areas. Difficult to control. Efficiency lost due to gas leakage to atmosphere during injection

25 METHODS EMPLOYED TO REDUCE EARLY AGE THERMAL CRACKING METHOD CONTRIBUTION DISADVANTAGE Shade stockpiles Water spraying of stockpiles Significant Exposed stockpile temperatures can reach >50 C in mid day direct sunlight Depends on requirements of pour and aggregate demand Extensive shading required - combination of shading and fresh deliveries of aggregates to manage temperatures effectively Some difficulty in maintaining uniform, effective, large scale spraying for mass pours - moisture uniformity can be compromised Control temperature of fresh cement Influence of cement temperature not significant as volume of cement is only about 12% of concrete mass Logistical difficulties as large pour cement demand maximizes available silage

26 STOCKPILE TEMPERATURE MEASUREMENT

27 EARLY THERMAL CONTRACTION CRACKS No edge restraint Free to shrink? Less Self-insulation from lower section thickness Thermal contraction of concrete after hardening Sections > 0.5m thick considered Self-Insulating Type H cracks Base restraint from mature concrete Internal restraint

28 LONG TERM DRYING SHRINKAGE CRACKS Type I cracks

29 CRAZING Primary causes - Impermeable form-face materials - Over-trowelling Secondary causes - Rich, pasty mixes - Poor curing - Thermal shock (application of cool water on hot surfaces) Time of appearance days, sometimes much later Remedial measures Improve curing Avoid over-trowelling

30 CRAZING Type J cracks (crazing)

31 Plastic cling film wrap Heat of hydration Plastic cling film wrap creates cells Heat of hydration Cell heats up to higher temperature SIMPLE INSULATION OF FORMWORK for CONCRETE BREAKWATERS GUAM 1998

32 CRACK FIELD REPORT Site Location Date concrete placed Grade/type of concrete/slump Weather/site conditions at time of pouring Temperature range ºC, (check met.reports?) Wind conditions/speed (check met.reports?) Relative humidity (check met.reports?) Curing system used Type of structure Approximate dimensions Immediate sub-base Details of reinforcement especially top steel When was cracking first noted hours/days e.g dry, wet, sunny,changeable,cloudy, sunlight, shaded, exposed Cement type Coarse aggregate Fine aggregate Admixture kg/m³ 20mm kg/m³ (1) kg/m³ (1) mls/100kg Fly Ash kg/m³ 10mm kg/m³ (2) kg/m³ (2) mls/100kg

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