If you own or monitor steel poles and lattice towers, you know concrete damage can leave critical steel reinforcments vulnerable. Most often, our technicians find cracking or spalling in concrete foundations. Spalling happens when a chunk of concrete separating from the main body of the structure and falling out. Concrete damage can be caused by a variety of factors, and can leave poles and towers exposed at various stages in the lifecycle of the asset. Damage to the concrete can expose poles’ and towers’ steel reinforcement to the elements, making it vulnerable to corrosion. When the concrete is compromised, it’s no longer just pole and tower exteriors that are at risk for damage, but their vital structural elements.
Common Causes of Concrete Damage
We observe concrete damage in the following situations:
Manufacturing Issues: Some foundations have fabrication defects, including improper mixing and curing, that can happen during the pole and tower manufacturing process.
Weather Damage: Concrete is durable, but lightning from severe storms can damage it.
Inadequate Grounding Systems: Grounding systems issues can lead to premature concrete foundation damage.
Exo technicians can identify the cause of concrete foundation damage and make a plan for prompt and effective remediation. We seal minor cracks to prevent moisture intrusion, patching spalls with fresh concrete or epoxy material. Steel rebar can corrode if moisture gets into those cracks. If that damage is left unchecked, the rebar will deteriorate and fail. If that water freezes, it expands, worsening cracks, which cause spalls or total foundation failure.
If we see a spall with exposed reinforcement in the mid span or near the base, the concrete foundation problem could be much more severe and will receive immediate attention, such as coring in new reinforcement and pouring new concrete. Along with finding and repairing concrete damage, Exo will make a plan to regularly monitor and inspect steel structures and their concrete foundations for greater structural integrity.