Spalling Concrete And Slab Foundations

Spalling Concrete And Slab Foundations
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Do you have spalling concrete? While concrete is a durable material, it will break down over time or need repair. Concrete slab foundations experience many problems, from cracks to settlement. But there are indicators other than cracks that can tell you that a problem may be around the corner. One of those indicators is spalling.

What is spalling concrete?

Spalling is when pieces of concrete crack and flake off. Spalling is also sometimes referred to as concrete scaling.

Causes of spalling concrete

Spalling is caused by water entering the concrete, causing the surface to flake or peel off. Spalling happens when there’s too much moisture in the concrete.

Spalling happens in concrete bricks – which are common in some – and in poured concrete. It happens more often in areas with a high level of salt in the water and a freeze/thaw cycle. De-icing agents also contribute to spalling. If you’ve seen the effect of salt on concrete during the winter, you’ve probably seen spalling.

Horizontal cracking and spalling occur independently of foundation settlement and is usually due to the way the house was built. We’ve seen homes with horizontal cracks on every wall but the whole house is flat. The only permanent solution in this case is to replace the concrete. However, in some cases epoxy injection or carbon fiber reinforcement are suitable.

What is concrete scaling?

Scaling is another term for spalling used by concrete contractors. This name refers to the scale-like pieces of concrete that flake off.

For more information, see Causes for Slab Upheaval.

Does Spalling Mean You Have Foundation Problems?

Not necessarily, but you shouldn’t ignore the problem. Spalling in foundation walls might mean there’s a high water level around your foundation.

If you see spalling, look around for other signs of foundation problems such as:

  • Foundation cracks
  • Sloping floors
  • Wet crawl spaces or basements
  • Windows and doors that don’t open or close properly
  • Drywall cracks
  • Ceiling cracks
  • Floor cracks
  • Countertops that are pulling away from the walls

If you notice any other signs of foundation problems, contact a foundation repair contractor for an inspection.

Never ignore changes to your home’s foundation and if you see any, contact a professional right away. Foundation repairs can be costly and will cost more if you wait.

Signs of Concrete Spalling in a Foundation Wall  

Signs of concrete spalling include concrete that’s flaking, crumbling, chipping, etc. When spalling happens the coarse, pebble aggregate may also be exposed.

How to Fix Spalling Concrete?  

Repairing spalling concrete involves cleaning the area to remove any loose concrete and then applying a chosen repair material. After the material has cured, the area can be coated with a waterproofing sealer or paint to prevent further spalling.


Is spalling concrete a structural problem?

Spalling in a concrete foundation wall is a sign there may be excess moisture in the ground around the foundation. Excess moisture in the soil around a home’s foundation is the number one cause of foundation issues. Therefore, if you see spalling concrete in a foundation wall, you should start looking for other signs of foundation problems.

Is foundation spalling serious?

It can be if the spalling is severe and widespread. This is why it’s essential to contact an experienced foundation repair contractor at the first sign of spalling. If the spalling is being caused by excess moisture in the ground around the foundation, this can be remedied.

Will spalling concrete get worse?

If the problem is being caused by soggy soil around the foundation, yes, spalling concrete can get worse. This is why it’s important to ask a foundation repair professional to look at the spalling right away.

Is it safe to live in a house with a crumbling foundation?

It’s impossible to say without inspecting the foundation. For more information, see Is It Safe To Live In A House With Foundation Problems?

If you’re concerned about spalling and in our service area in Northern California, contact us today for a free inspection and repair estimate.

Steve Egloff

Steve Egloff

Steve is the Founder of Bay Area Underpinning, a foundation repair company serving the San Fransisco Bay Area, California. Bay Area Underpinning was founded in 2005 with the goal of providing a cost-effective, engineered solution to foundation settlement problems with an emphasis on educating customers to make them feel comfortable with the various methods of foundation repair.

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