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EARLY CORROSION DETECTION TO AVOID COSTLY REPAIRS OF CONCRETE STRUCTURES

The protection of assets from corrosion is a key commercial, safety and environmental issue.

Deterioration of concrete structures can become a challenge for the owners of structures such as bridges, walkways, high rise buildings, etc. It is important to identify these defects on time and plan appropriate repair strategies. Concrete deterioration can occur through scaling, disintegration, erosion, corrosion of reinforcement, delamination, spalling, alkali-aggregate reactions, and cracking of concrete. Moreover, corrosion of reinforced steel is the main cause in modern concretes.

Successful contractors understand the importance of adding value to their clients' assets/structures. One of the best ways to do this is to offer additional services that provide a cost-effective benefit to the client. Contractors can provide value added service to their clients through the application of cathodic protection. Cathodic protection system stops the corrosion cycle in concrete by utilizing an electrical current. It can be an add-on service for the concrete contractor and a cost-effective benefit to the client.

How does cathodic protection work?

In the simplest terms, a small DC electrical current is discharged off of an anode and flows through the concrete to the reinforcing steel. This protective current prevents corrosion from occurring. A small power supply unit converts AC power available at the site to DC power to provide the negative charge, which is used to arrest the natural corrosion process. Typically these systems use very little power -- not much more than a conventional 120 Watt electric light bulb. The contractor has a wide range of decorative top coats available to finish the process while meeting the aesthetic requirements of the project. For more than 20 years, this proven technology has been employed successfully on numerous installations in coastal environments.

Contractors should be encouraging their clients to consider cathodic protection when major repair projects are undertaken. The first reason is the most important -- quite simply, cathodic protection stops the repair cycle by preventing further corrosion. When the client/owner completes a major concrete repair only to find that more corrosion is occurring just a few years later, there is an unhappy client eager to blame the initial repair contractor. Cathodic protection stops future corrosion which in turn stops the vicious restoration cycle.

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