ASDSO Dam Safety Toolbox

Repairing Concrete

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“Many times, concrete is viewed as a maintenance-free material. Modern concrete is a very durable construction material. If properly proportioned and placed, concrete will have a very long service life, usually without the need for any maintenance, at least for some time”.[1]

“Unfortunately, there are times when concrete does need maintenance to extend or prolong its service life. Many Reclamation concrete structures were constructed using early concrete technology, and they have already provided well over 50 years of service under harsh conditions. Concrete in these circumstances should be inspected regularly to ensure that it is receiving the maintenance necessary to retain serviceability”.[1]

“In addition, new technology concrete can be placed in extremely aggressive environments. The life of that concrete can be extended by establishing and following a well planned maintenance program”.[1]

“Performing an effective maintenance program to prolong the life of a concrete structure is usually much more economical than taking no action. Failure to promptly provide the proper maintenance will usually result in expensive repairs or replacement”.[1]

“A basic understanding of underlying causes of concrete deficiencies is essential to performing meaningful evaluations and successful repairs. If the cause of a deficiency is understood, it is much more likely that the correct repair method will be selected and that, consequently, the repair will be successful. Symptoms or observations of a deficiency must be differentiated from the actual cause of the deficiency, and it is imperative that causes and not symptoms be addressed in repairs. For example, cracking is a symptom of distress that may have a variety of causes. Selection of the correct repair technique for cracking depends upon knowing whether the cracking is causes by repeated freezing and thawing of the concrete, accidental loading, or some other cause. Only after the cause or causes are known can rational decisions be made concerning the selection of a proper method of repair and in determining how to avoid a repetition of the circumstances that led to the problem”.[2]

Best Practices Resources

Evaluation and Repair of Concrete Structures (EM 1110-2-2002), USACE

Guide to Concrete Repair, Reclamation

Concrete Manual (Part 1), Reclamation

Concrete Manual (Part 2), Reclamation


On-Demand Webinar: Concrete Repair and Maintenance for Dams


Revision ID: 7097
Revision Date: 07/11/2023