If you’ve ever stepped in a puddle and wondered why the sidewalk is so saturated, it’s likely because of cracks and other imperfections in the concrete itself. Concrete is one of the most versatile building materials on Earth. It can be molded into any shape imaginable and serves as the foundation for many buildings that contribute to our everyday life, including homes, schools, malls, hotels, and more. However, do not mistake concrete for a single product: it is made up of several components: water, cement powder, and aggregates such as rock or sand. All three of these components work together during mixing to create a chemical reaction. Once the concrete cures, it is incredibly durable and hardy.

What happens when we do not repair concrete?

Over time, however, many different elements can cause the strength of your concrete to degrade: exposure to water (and chemicals in that water) can cause an alkali-silica reaction (ASR), removing calcium hydroxide from cementing materials and creating a gel that grows and results in cracks. Freeze/thaw cycles or chemical deicers used when snow melts can also contribute to ASRs by increasing porosity in the structure. Furthermore, even though additives such as plasticizers are added to reduce cracking during freezing weather, these chemicals can become too diluted over time because of erosion caused by traffic, etc., so you still might see cracks forming.

Another issue that can affect your concrete is corrosion. Concrete has a lot of rebar or metal rods used as reinforcement for strength that is set into the surface to prevent cracking from settling and traffic. Over time, these corrode from exposure to water and appear as rust stains on the outside of the concrete form.

How Does It Happen?

ASR isn’t a problem you can see immediately: it happens over several years as a slow process so often goes unnoticed until much later when cracks have already formed in the concrete itself. However, once you realize there’s a problem with your concrete, it will cost significant amounts of money to fix. In addition to being expensive, ASR repair can be challenging to do well.

Fixing Concrete Problems

The first thing you should do when you realize your concrete is suffering from ASR or corrosion is to monitor the problem areas. Keep an eye out for any new cracks forming in the future. You can try cleaning up rust stains with a wire brush to hide the problem, at least temporarily. Still, if they’re very severe, it could draw attention to them and lead people to believe that there’s already damage when in reality, you need to clean it up because it looks terrible. With ASRs, sometimes pressure washing will reduce the effects of alkali-aggregate reactions by removing loose granules that are causing problems, but this is time-consuming and costly, especially if water is the culprit.

When you’re ready to have your concrete repaired, it’s crucial to find a contractor specializing in working with these kinds of materials because otherwise, they’ll try to use products other than what is best for your specific situation, which can do more harm than good.

Meet Lance Davis


Lance Davis is a third generation Concrete Contractor with over 10+ years experience in concrete repair and slabjacking. His company Davis & Sons Concrete has proudly served all of North Central Illinois, Rockford and the outer suburbs - and he would love to hear from you!

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