Concrete spalling sounds like a complicated term but if you live in an ocean front or near the ocean condominium, it’s a word you need to be familiar with. The definition of spalling is flakes of material that are broken off a larger solid body. How does that correlate to your ocean front condominium? When pieces of the concrete supports holding up your building start falling away, this is called spalling.
Another cause and effect incident regarding spalling is the deterioration of the rebar (steel) supports that serve as reinforcement in concrete structures. Imagine the rebar at the initial construction is the size of your thumb, because of the salt penetrating the concrete that encases the rebar it will begin to rust and slough off. When you begin to see signs of spalling on the exterior, that rebar that was once the size of your thumb is now the size of your pinky. For buildings using post-tension slab construction, these rebar supports rupture and have been know to blow holes out of the edge of the balcony.
The signs of spalling start as cracks and heaves/displacements of concrete surfaces. This can be on horizontal or vertical surfaces. Early signs of steel support spalling is the rust colored staining that occurs on a concrete surface. While your association manager can identify signs of spalling in common areas, they cannot always see the spalling that could possibly be occurring on your balcony. If you see any of these signs, contact your association manager to check it out and document it. For managers, if you begin to see evidence of spalling contact a trusted building engineering or construction management firm for an evaluation and repair.