Hayder Seeks: Causes of Floor Covering Defects

07.02.18   Hayder H. Al-Hilal, PE, SMSI, CIP-1, CCI-2, Level 1 Thermographer, ICRI CSMT | More by this Author

Hayder Seeks: Causes of Floor Covering Defects

FAQ: Hayder, what is wrong with my floor covering? Why is it full of blisters and bumps?

Answer: These defects are related to excess vapor moisture escaping through the concrete slab. Even if a moisture-vapor reduction membrane system was installed prior to floor covering installation, vapor moisture can still sneak through, causing your new floor to be unsightly and unsafe.

The near-surface inorganic and organic contaminant materials can cause accelerated and concentrated moisture-vapor drive toward the uppermost region of the concrete by osmosis. These conditions can lead to the development of pressure-filled blisters within the applied moisture-vapor reduction membrane resulting in blistering of the floor covering system.

Similar conditions can also occur as a result of the near-surface alkali silica aggregate reaction diagenesis (ASR). Near-surface ASR can lead to cohesive weakness of the concrete substrate surface immediately beneath the moisture-vapor reduction membrane system, accelerated by water vapor diffusing upward through the concrete slab carrying alkalies with a high pH solution.

A definitive conclusion regarding the presence of the near-surface contaminants or ASR is not possible from a limited visual assessment alone. SME’s materials experts can perform petrographic and chemical analyses of core samples extracted from the slab for conclusive information on what is causing your flooring issues.

If your floor covering is exhibiting blisters and bumps, or if you are planning to install a new floor covering over an existing concrete slab and have a need to detect whether near-surface contaminants or ASR are present, SME can help. Contact Hayder Al-Hilal for more information.

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