When repairing and maintaining your concrete structure, it is important to remember to fill contraction and expansion joints. These joints help protect your concrete from cracking due to temperature changes. Furthermore, there are many activities many property owners are unaware of or neglect—case in point, contraction and expansion joints.
But what exactly are contraction and expansion joints? Why do you need to fill them? Do you even have contraction and expansion joints?
If you are asking any of these questions, chances are you will want to read on. This post will focus on contraction and expansion joints and some tips for filling them. So, let’s get started.
What are Contraction and Expansion Joints? Why do They Need to be Filled Periodically?
Concrete contraction joints are pre-planned grooves experts place in concrete during the finishing operations. Furthermore, the purpose of contraction joints is to allow concrete to shrink during the drying process. It is essential to have contraction joints in concrete so that cracks do not occur randomly throughout the slab. Moreover, without contraction joints, random cracking will likely happen.
Similarly, expansion joints are essential in concrete installation. However, they allow the concrete to expand rather than contract, hence the name expansion and contraction joints. So, these joints aid the concrete not to crack and need filling as well.
Experts fill joints with a sealant material that bonds well with concrete and remains flexible to allow for expansion and contraction of the concrete. The most common sealant materials are hot applied asphalt, cold applied rubberized asphalt, and non-shrink silicone joint sealants. Furthermore, these materials bond well to concrete, have good flexibility properties, and do not shrink upon curing.
How to Tell When and If You Need to Fill Your Joints
If you’re unsure whether your expansion joints needs filling, there are a few telltale signs to look for. First, check for cracks or gaps in the joint material. If the material is cracking or falling out, it’s time to replace it. Also, it would help if you looked for any deterioration of the surrounding concrete. If the concrete is flaking or crumbling near the joint, it’s a good indication that water is getting in, which can lead to further damage.
Lastly, pay attention to any changes in the way the concrete feels underfoot. If you suddenly feel a dip or depression when walking across the slab, it’s likely that the joint has failed and needs a repair job.
Paying attention to these signs can help prevent costly damage to your concrete surfaces.
How to Properly Fill Joints
Repairing an expansion or contraction joint is a relatively simple process. First, you must clean the joint of debris or loose material. Next, apply the sealant to the joint. Ensure you apply enough sealant and that it fills in the joints, but not too much that it overflows. Next, use a putty knife or trowel to smooth out the sealant and provide a level surface. Finally, cover the joint with tape or another type of protective barrier.
By following these steps, you can effectively repair an expansion or contraction joint and help extend the life of your concrete structure.
Precautions and Ways to Prevent Need for Filling
Joints are critical for the long-term performance of concrete. However, joints can also be a weak point in concrete. And, if not properly maintained, they can lead to severe damage. The most common type of joint damage is spalling, when the sealant erodes, allowing water and other contaminants to enter the joint. Spalling can cause the joint to expand and contract more than it should, eventually leading to cracking and structural failure.
To prevent joint damage, it is important to inspect joints for signs of wear and tear regularly. If you find any damage, repair it immediately. By taking these simple precautions, you can help ensure that your concrete will last for many years.
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We understand that not every job is the same, so we work with you to ensure complete satisfaction.
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