Concrete Cancer Detection

Concrete is an incredibly durable building material, especially when properly set and applied, but it’s not impervious to wear and tear over long periods of time when subject to certain conditions. There are many different ways that concrete can wear down over time, so it is extremely important to know what to keep an eye out for and who to call when concrete cancer detection is needed.


Concrete Cancer Detection Services:
Making Sure Your Buildings Are Solid & Safe


What Is “Concrete Cancer?”

The term concrete cancer refers to the chipping, eroding and damage or degradation that occurs when concrete is subject to certain condition. Concrete degradation can come from a variety of different causes, although concrete cancer generally refers to contamination based damage: things that eat away at the concrete over time. Vandalism is an entirely different issue and easy to see. However when there are hidden pockets of moisture that can erode away at the material, that causes issues. Add in situational contamination or even alkali-silica reactions and it isn’t hard to see how concrete cancer can just sneak in there and cause chaos.

Salt Based Contamination

One of the most common ways damage happens is through long exposure to salt (chloride). This is often referred to within the industry as chloride based concrete degradation, and it commonly occurs in buildings that are near the ocean, have basements that tend to flood, or a combination of both. Even if the flooding is just occasional, that still becomes an issue as there might be small pockets of moisture hidden in cracks and crevices that continue to eat away at the concrete.

In South east Queensland this type of contamination can absolutely come from the surrounding environment in many situations. The biggest problem with the chloride/salt contamination is not only that it eats away the concrete, but that the steel corrodes, as well. This is a terrible combination, and not one that you don’t want to see affecting any of your buildings.

What does damaged concrete and steel lead to? That means reinforcement bands expand and contract, creating a stress on the surrounding concrete and that just further speeds up the damage and degradation of the building. This can even lead to outright concrete and spalling failure. Once a few cracks appear, the entire process speeds up and that’s not good for you.

Alkali-Silica Reactions

These are common reactions that you may hear professional concrete specialists talk about, but what exactly is an alkali-silica reaction and what does that mean? In this situation, moisture is still a problem. This is the technical term that refers to when certain molecules and materials in the concrete react with alkali that is found in moisture and water in the pores. This creates an alkali-silica reaction. The chemistry gets technical here however, the long and short of it is, that the moisture creates this reaction, which causes miniature expansion and can create additional cracks, damage, and other issues that start causing damage and then continue to compound. We can tell when this type of damage is taking place based on the cracking patterns that appear in addition to a white gel that tends to ooze in small amounts from these cracks. It’s not a good situation.

Other Situations Where Concrete Cancer Degradation Can Occur

Many buildings in Brisbane and approximately 90 other towns, were subject to terrible flooding in late 2010 though to early 2011. Water inundated underground car parks and basements for several weeks before Brisbane River levels dropped.

Buildings that were subject to that water inundation are now showing concrete degradation. Older buildings often have a concrete water tank – which by definition is going to be exposed to moisture and thus have issues over time. Concrete degradation can take place easily and this is an issue that needs to have careful attention paid to it.

Corrosion Of Metal In Concrete


Corrosion of reinforcing steel and other embedded metals is the leading cause of deterioration inconcrete. When steel corrodes, the resulting rust occupies a greater volume than the steel. This expansion creates tensile stresses in the concrete, which can eventually cause cracking, delamination, and spalling.

The metals used to reinforce concrete are also subject to rusting and is in fact the leading cause of concrete degradation.

Concrete Cancer Detection: Tests Used

You can’t just call up any contractor to get this type of specialty work done right. Our professionals have the special tools, training, and experience to get the work done and to get it done right. We use special tests that help us get a clear x-ray view of the situation so we can spot damage, potential damage, weak spots, and even get a clear look at the overall workplace situation.

Half Cell Potential Test

The half cell potential test provides an indicator of the level of existing corrosion of the metals within the concrete or the corrosive potential of these metals.

Resistivity Test

The resistivity test is completely non-destructive and gives us an indication of the state of the concrete structure and the extent of chloride (salt) contamination. When we measure concrete resistivity we determine if the concrete structure is in fact corroding and at what rate. This can be a very useful test especially when combined with Half Cell potential test to locate potential areas for concrete corrosion.

Contact Us Today!

Don’t ignore obvious signs that your structure might be suffering concrete degradation. Whether it’s from concrete cancer or another cause that is chipping away at the stability of old concrete, our professionals can quickly test the extent of the problem.

Call 0427 827 692