A Root Cause Of Damage To Concrete Floor Joints

October 31, 2018

Repair to damaged concrete floor jointConcrete is the ideal choice of flooring for industrial buildings, particularly warehouse and large manufacturing facilities as it provides a tough and durable surface to operate on. Unfortunately, it’s not perfect nor is it indestructible when man and machine are let loose on it. Anyone who has worked in a busy warehouse or production facility will have come across damaged floor joints, you may have experienced a bumpy ride over them in your forklift truck.

The poor old forklift and other hard wheeled materials handling equipment (MHE) are seen as the main cause of damage to concrete joints after all it’s the impact from the hard wheels that damage the concrete arris edges. There are reasons why the joint edges become exposed to impact from the forklift trucks and one of these causes is outlined below and what you can do to repair them.

1. Load Transfer – What Does It Mean?

This is the technical term used by industrial flooring specialists to describe the mechanism that allows a moving load, such as a forklift truck, to travel from one slab to another without significant deflection of the individual floor slabs. In its simplest form load transfer can be achieved by aggregate interlock or by using mechanical methods such as dowel bars.

Joints with poor load transfer capability are more prone to edge arris damage, because the arrisses get exposed to impact as the slab deflects or rocks under the moving load. To help explain; where there is poor load transfer the loaded slab is likely to move downwards under load and where this is present at a joint, the loaded slab will be lower than the slab opposite, exposing the joint edge to impact from the approaching MHE. After a period of continual impact, the joint arris edge will become damaged and it is also possible that the impact from the continual vertical deflection of the slab edges from the moving load, will create a void below the joint. Other than feedback from the MHE operators, the first warning sign is typically when the arris edge starts to round off or spall and this should be your trigger to get the damage repaired.

What To Do About It?

This is when care should be taken to make sure you do not rush out and spend money to repair the joints, without fixing the actual problem. We have come across it many times where the customer has explained they have had someone in to repair the joints but the repairs didn’t last. This is generally because the repair has only addressed the visible surface damage and not the issue with the load transfer. Therefore, it is really important to correct any load transfer problems before repairing the joints. There are a few methods to return positive load transfer at joints such as the CoGri Joint Stabiliser, under slab injection method using foam or grout and cutting out the damaged slab and reinstating the joint by stitching dowel bars. Each has their pros and cons and some are more suitable for certain environments than others.

Understanding the problem and getting the right fix in the first instance will help save you time and money on maintenance.

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Maintaining your concrete floor is an important part of warehouse or facilities management. Our Concrete Floor Maintenance Guide is a free resource that explains the common problems that affect concrete flooring, how to prevent them, and the most cost-effective ways to address them. Click here to claim your copy.

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