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9/12/2017 Concrete corrosion




The corrosion of a reinforcement mainly depends on the geometrical (cover thickness) and physical
(porosity) of the covering concrete. It also depends on the aggressiveness of its environment,
particularly when those geometrical or physical properties do not meet the requirements.

A reinforced concrete structures is designed and built for a given service life, which is defined by the
designer and is controlled by the manufacturer. For this period of time, the structure should not be so
deteriorated that it does not fulfill any more its functions.

The deterioration of reinforced concrete is mainly due to reinforcement corrosion The mechanism of
this deterioration is to be reminded. Reinforcements corrode when they are in contact with a high
amount of aggressive agents. This is the reason why, the prevention of reinforcement corrosion, in
structures to be built, is obtained mainly by controlling the thickness and the quality of the concrete

The most important parameters, which induce reinforcement corrosion, are the cover thickness and
the quality of concrete, as well as the aggressiveness of the environment.

Concrete properties

Cover thickness

Cover thickness is the distance between concrete surface and the reinforcement, which is the nearest
to this surface. It is determined after taking into account the required mechanical properties. According
to some regulations, its minimum value depends on the exposure class and on the type of structure
(structure class)..

Most often, steel corrosion occurs when the cover thickness is too thin.

Corrosion of reinforcement under a too thin concrete cover

Design and placing of concrete

Concrete is characterized first by the cement (or equivalent binder) content, then by the wter-to-cement
ratio, which strongly influences concrete porosity.

Concrete placing is important, as it can be the origin of local defects.

In every case, the quality of covering concrete, and particularly its physico-chemical properties (mainly
compactness), is of a first importance for yielding protection. The techniques applied must continuously
lead to a good quality, from concrete production to its placing.

Aggressiveness of the environment

This aggressiveness is of course an important parameter, which accelerates corrosion, when covering
concrete is not satisfactory.

The European standards EN 206 EN1992-1.1 and EN1992-1.2 give the requirements concerning the 1/4
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environment classes, which must be taken into account for determining concrete thickness and quality.


Carbonation Chlorides in seaw ater. Tidal Chlorides not due to marine
Exposure class
Alternate wetting zones, splash areas environment. Alternate w etting
and drying and drying.
Faades exposed to rains, Bridges and buildings on Car parks under deicing salts or
Examples superstructures of bridges seashore, marine structures. w ith frequent w ater leakagess.

Some applications of the here above standards are shown in the following table, concerning structures
with a predicted lifetime of 50 years.


Exposure class Carbonation Chlorides in seaw ater Chlorides from non marine

C. thickness Cmin, dur 30 mm 45 mm 45 mm

water eff / cement ratio 0,60 0,50 0,50

Minimum of strength class C25/30 C35/45 C35/45

Minimum dosage of binder

280 350 350
(binder equivalent kg/m

- watereff is the mass per unit volume of water available for cement hardening.
- The mass (binder equivalent) of equivalent binder, for a unit volume is that of ordinary Portland
cement, For other cements it is calculated according to special formulas.
- The minimum strength class is in MPa.

A new concrete can be coated either for cosmetic reasons or for a protection against corrosion. It also
can be impregnated.

Special metallic reinforcements

Reinforcements in concrete can be in plain carbon steel and have either an organic coatings or a
metallic coating,for example by hot-dip galvanizing.These coatings must be adherent to steel even
when it is bent, and yield a good bonding between reinforcement and concrete.

Reinforcements made of stainless steel are available. Their grades are chosen depending on the
environment of the reinforced concrete.


Repair, rehabilitation

A reinforced concrete structure is repaired when its material is apparently damaged. The European 2/4
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standards EN 1504 describe the repair methods for concrete. Rehabilitation concerns a material, which
seems sound, but in which steel is corroding.

Diffrentes mthodes de rparations et de rhabilitations peuvent tre associes sur le mme ouvrage
traiter. Dune faon gnrale, les phases dune rparation darmatures dgrades par la corrosion,
dpendent de la forme de dgradation observe.

Various methods of repair and rehabilitation, can be applied on the same structure to be treated. For
example, after a chloride extraction treatment, the concrete surface can be coated.

Highly cracked, delaminated concrete cover

When reinforcements are strongly corroded, their corrosion products can expand, and deteriorate the
concrete cover, by cracking, delamination and spalling.

Then, the first action to be undertaken is to eliminate these geometrical defects, by replacing concrete
cover, or sometimes by injecting cracks.

As this first action relates to only the zones under high corrosion, the close zones, where corrosion can
appear in a short term, must be treated by other methods.

Concrete cover physically sound, but polluted


In some cases, concrete reinforcement. are already corroding or will corrode shortly. Its concrete cover
seems physically satisfactory and has neither crack or delamination. But, it is then convenient to slow
down this corrosion rate, even to stop it.

The methods which can be proposed are either concrete impregnation with water-proof products
(sealants) or corrosion inhibitors, or an electrochemical treatment : cathodic protection, re-
alkalization or chloride extraction.

Sound concrete cover

When reinforcement is embedded in a sound cover and if its corrosion is likely initiated only in short or
long term, it can be useful to protect them either by coating or by impregnation concrete cover.


A general guide line on the rehabilitation of reinforced concrete damaged by steel corrosion, has been
published by CEFRACOR and AFGC.
Download 1906 Ko 3/4
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On corrosion prevention
Some technical information on materials usable to prevent steel corrosion is given on
line for , :

- Epoxy-coated reinforcement :

- Galvanized steel reinforcement :
- Stainless steel ,

On repair
Some guidelines on repair works have been published, in various countries, by :

- Syndicat des travaux de rparation et de renforcement de structure (France) :
- Concrete Repair Association (Royaume-Uni) :
- International Concrete Repair Institute (USA, Canada) :
- Australian Concrete Repair Association (Australie)

For more information, contact

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