A Hard Assignment: Getting a Good Read on Moisture in Concrete

From D+D Online, December 2011

by Kenneth A. Trimber

Water is good for taking a swim, floating a boat, boiling an egg, or washing the car....
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Tagged categories: Concrete coatings and treatments; Good Technical Practice; Humidity and moisture; Kenneth A. Trimber; KTA-Tator; Masonry waterproofing; Paint application

Comment from homer hart, (12/20/2011, 9:19 AM)

Another great knowledgeable set of coating values portrayed here by Kenneth Trimber. I am in the business of stopping moisture from being where it hurts, if it is not stopped before Coatings are applied it will certainly cause much trouble, however, I still learned much from this well written Article. We are involved here at Environmental Protective Coatings, with an Item called[Chemtec One] Concrete hardener, that has been applied to Yankee Stadium, Greater Cincinnati Airport runways, Wall Marts and Highway Bridges in many regions, with great success of stopping water from entering Concrete. Respectively Submitted, Homer O. Hart, Pres. EPC.

Comment from Glenn Summers, (12/20/2011, 10:28 AM)

Excellent article that brings forward the need for testing and the different types of testing available. I take the approach of Stabilizing a concrete by waterproofing it as soon as practical. After waterproofing we commonly test for vapor emisssions to insure we have sealed the matrix and will no longer see a migration of internal chemistry outward to collect under a coating, causing a failure as mentioned here. The real test comes after a recently coated wall has been through a series of cyclic temperature changes to a wall surface facing the sun. We refer to this as the "Loaf of Bread" effect on a wall surface. Hot during the daytime with the Cool down at night will demonstrate in short order, if a concrete has been Stabilized to waterproof it and control the chemistry!

Comment from Pierre Hebert, (4/9/2012, 9:39 AM)

A very interesting article indeed. Interestingly enough, a group of installer & manufacturers which I am part of (in CANADA) have identified key problems and challenges when conducting moisture testing on floors. These concerns are probably also echoed in the coating business. They are: 1) Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are rarely in operation prior to testing moisture (ASTM F2170 or ASTM F1869) and obtaining the GC to even provide “in service” conditions for testing is beyond challenging. 2) The flooring/coating installer is left testing repeatedly while being pressured to deliver his work or otherwise faces potential penalties. Yet he/she’s has no control on the mix design of the concrete and how it was place and finished. 3) Testing should be conducted by certified moisture testing technicians. 4) Concrete slabs in our day are formulated with water reducing agents and/or supplementary cementitious materials providing almost twice the compressive strength has the old 25 MPa slabs. We are left thinking this might explain why the results of measurement of RH is rarely below 90% during the first year following the casting. This has become a major issue in “fast-track” jobs in the recent years. We believe the situation could be dramatically improved and delays avoided if the design professional would require that predetermined MVER and RH levels be achieved after a specific time period (for example: concrete slab should provide 5lbs of MVER and RH levels of 85 % after 60 days from casting) as part of the project specifications. Furthermore, jobs specs should require that moisture testing be under the responsibility of the GC. We certainly hope floor covering/coating associations throughout the Americas channel these ideas through their members and that these two ideas find their way to the AIA and RCAI. Looking forward to you folks at D+D to post this comment.

Comment from Kenneth Trimber, (4/9/2012, 5:15 PM)

Mr. Hebert, you raise a very good question and I’ve discussed it with Fred Goodwin of BASF who is chairing the Flooring Group of the SSPC Commercial Committee. The SSPC Flooring Group will be tackling your issues once they have their current task well in hand (they are currently working on a guidance document to address concrete floor maintenance and slip resistance). If you or any of the readers are interested in participating in the new SSPC Commercial Committee, feel free to contact me at ktrimber@kta.com and I will arrange to get you onboard. Note also that Fred and Frank Apicella, also of BASF, plan to give a paper on the concerns you have raised during the commercial track of SSPC 2013, which will be held in San Antonio the week of January 13, 2013. Ken

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