How to Prevent Moisture Problems with Concrete

Over time, the presence of moisture in concrete floor slabs, parking decks, underground tanks, retaining walls, bridge decks, dams, etc. can degrade or weaken the integrity of the structure, necessitating costly repairs or future material replacements. Applying adequate moisture mitigation products can help prevent expensive moisture problems and ensure the longevity of concrete structures.

Prevent Moisture Problems with Concrete

IMC Distributors provides high-quality cement admixtures, concrete sealers, moisture mitigating primers, and protective coatings that are guaranteed to prevent common concrete moisture problems.

What Is a Moisture Mitigation System?

A moisture mitigation system consists of a series of products and application techniques that are designed to prevent high moisture levels from warping building materials.

Concrete is a highly porous material that’s commonly used as a foundational element for many residential, commercial, and industrial structures. It has a long curing and drying time. Since the surface dries a lot faster than the subgrade, it’s easy to assume that the entire slab is fully dried and ready for a coating or covering to be installed even when it’s not.

Concrete structures that are exposed to the elements are subject to erosion from environmental factors and water is one of the largest villains in concrete deterioration.

The best way to prevent moisture problems is by employing proper moisture controls and integrating them into the design of the structure. Dependant on the structure, common and effective moisture mitigation systems include proper drainage systems, gutter systems, weatherproofing, condensation drainage, humidity controls, admixtures, sealers, moisture mitigating primers, and protective coatings. 

What Causes Moisture Problems in Structures?

There are a number of reasons that moisture problems can occur in industrial and commercial concrete structures. Given the current uncertain and fast-paced state of the construction industry, many projects are often rushed in order to meet incredibly tight deadlines.

Slab on-grade construction, or tanks that are located underground, can be subject to significant hydrostatic pressure by the nature of where they are located. With parking decks water is most often the cause of deterioration. These decks are exposed to hydrostatic pressure from below ground and water coming in as ice, snow, and rain from above ground.

Concrete structures like bridge decks are constantly exposed to the elements and similar to parking decks have to deal with snow, ice, rain, and high humidity levels that can lead to damage of the concrete and the rebar that it encapsulates.

Moisture facilitates reactions between certain alkali hydroxides and aggregates in the concrete, creating a cycle of expansion, cracking, and further moisture intrusion. Other minerals migrate via penetrating moisture and can crystallize and lead to spalling, cracking, delamination, and sometimes loss of integrity of the concrete.

Selecting the Right Moisture Mitigation Product, or Combination of Products, for Your Structure

Extensive exposure to moisture, whether it’s environmental, or due to another factor, can reduce the lifespan of concrete. Selecting the appropriate moisture mitigation, waterproofing, and protective products is critical to ensuring the longevity of your structure. The following products have been designed and developed with this goal in mind.

Special Cement Admixtures

Admixtures are added to the concrete batch before or during the mixing process to speed up drying and curing times to prevent excess moisture from being trapped in the concrete. Certain concrete admixtures can provide ongoing waterproofing benefits.

High-Quality Concrete Sealers

Concrete sealers penetrate deep into the pores and capillaries of concrete and can act as a durable waterproof barrier. 

Moisture Mitigation Primers

There are a variety of moisture mitigating primers that can be used on concrete where moisture levels, hydrostatic pressure, or timing that will not allow for a full 28-day cure of the concrete, are concerns. Dependant on the specific situation the appropriate primer can be recommended.

Waterproof and Protective Coatings

Depending on the type of concrete structure, and the different elements it would be exposed to, i.e. water, chemicals, salt, etc., there will be a specific coating recommended to ensure the concrete is protected and its lifespan prolonged. Polyurea, polyaspartic, polyurethane and epoxy coatings all play a role in the protection of concrete dependant on the specific situation.

Test Moisture Levels Prior to Installing a Protective Waterproof Coating

There are various methods to analyze the moisture levels of concrete before installing a  protective and waterproof coating. Make sure to test the moisture levels in the concrete prior to installing a coating over the concrete to determine if a moisture mitigating primer will be required. By not mitigating the moisture issues prior to coating application may cause the coating to delaminate, bubble, and peel off of the structure.

Building Material Distributors in Canada

IMC Distributors offers a broad range of moisture mitigation systems such as admixtures, concrete sealers, primers, and protective coatings. As the exclusive partner of Isomat S.A. and Nukote Coating Systems in Canada our main goal is to provide our customers with the latest industry product advancements and the most efficient installation methods. Contact us today to learn more.

Karli Logan is the Owner and President of IMC Distributors which is the exclusive partner of Nukote Coating Systems in Canada. With a B.Sc and M.Sc, as well as a demonstrated history of working across a number of industries, she has a passion to drive significant gains and benefits for IMC’s clients.