Repairing cracked or spalled concrete in commercial buildings seems like an obvious solution to keep ownership costs down. But if the underlying damage is severe, it may be cheaper over the long term to tear everything down and rebuild.
ChemCo Systems suggests considering the lifecycle costs of a building when deciding whether to repair or replace and offers the six following tips:
- The missing element in deciding whether to repair or replaced damaged structural concrete is the impact of the overall cost of running the building over its lifetime. It might cost less to repair today, but spending more on replacement for a permanent remedy may considerably reduce the total cost of the structure over its lifespan. When deciding on alternatives, consider the long-term cost of ownership.
- Identifying unseen conditions and the extent of damage is a key element in any lifecycle-cost analysis. Non Destructive Testing is often used by engineers to obtain detailed structural information. This testing includes sounding, galvanic pulse testing, ground penetrating radar and load tests. With such details on a building’s condition available, engineers can prepare a more accurate projection of remedial cost estimates, making it far less likely that owners will face costly change order surprises when choosing to make repairs.
- In some instances, replacement may prove to be the better option for older structures with a few years left before their pre-determined lifecycle ends. In other cases, if damage is not disruptive to the entire structure, the best option, often, is to repair. In all cases, it is prudent to hire an engineer for a structural lifecycle evaluation and condition survey.
- Know the severity and cause of damaged structural concrete before deciding on a repair solution. Some cracks might not need attention while others could have serious consequences. Again, call in a structural engineer to assess any threats to the building.
- Although non-structural cracks are not detrimental to building integrity, they may need to be addressed due to cosmetic reasons or to take proactive steps to prevent those cracks from growing over time and eventually reaching the structural stage. Tiny fractures can also lead to other challenges. Simply put, there are too many engineering and chemical factors in play to leave it to a do-it-yourself approach.