Why Maintaining Concrete Floor Joints Is Crucial for Your Facility
As a facility manager or owner, you surely know that floor maintenance is vital for safety, productivity, and legal reasons (i.e., compliance). For facilities with concrete floors, taking care of all the joints, including control joints, is an essential step in preventing costly repairs and ensuring the overall health of the flooring.
In this article, you’ll learn what concrete floor joints mean, their importance, and common issues with these parts of your concrete floor. We’ll also cover maintenance tips, the consequences of neglecting joint maintenance, and how Kaloutas can help your facility.
Concrete Floor Joints and Their Importance
Many industrial facilities, commercial buildings, and warehouses choose concrete flooring because of its durability. However, as durable as concrete may be, it is not indestructible. It can still succumb to pressure and other factors, resulting in cracks.
Contractors usually suggest adding joints when installing concrete flooring. These joints come in different types, such as expansion and control joints. The control joints in concrete are the most common type of joint. For those asking, “What is the purpose of control joints in concrete?” they are designed to control random cracking due to regular wear and tear, temperature changes, and shifts in the earth, to name a few. On the other hand, an expansion joint enables the concrete to expand and contract without affecting the flooring.
By creating deliberate spaces between concrete slabs, contractors can help ensure the longevity and durability of the flooring. Hence, the floor is guaranteed safe to use in commercial, industrial, and residential settings. Without these joints, concrete flooring would be prone to structural failure and could require costly repairs or even replacement.
How to Maintain Concrete Floor Joints
Concrete joints serve as a buffer that absorbs the movement of the concrete and prevents the formation of cracks that may compromise the integrity of the entire structure. Proper maintenance of concrete joints is essential to ensure your concrete floors’ long-term use and durability.
Here are some essential tips on how to maintain your concrete joints:
Dirt and debris can accumulate in the joints and cause them to clog, possibly leading to water seepage and mold growth. Use a stiff-bristled brush or a pressure washer to remove debris or dirt from the joints. Additionally, make sure that the joints are completely dry before sealing them.
Caulk the Joints
Caulking concrete floor joints is an essential part of concrete flooring maintenance. It helps eliminate or at least reduce any gaps in the concrete while retaining flexibility. Caulking the floor control joint may also help prevent water penetration, which can make the floor sink and become unlevel. It can help extend the life of the concrete floor. Several sealants are available, including silicone, polymer, and butyl caulk. Choose one that is appropriate for your concrete flooring system.
Inspect for Damage
Checking your expansion and control joint regularly for any signs of wear and tear helps prevent further damage to your flooring. Look for spalling or other signs of damage at least once a month for heavily trafficked floors with joints in unregulated temperature areas. For joints in temperature-regulated areas, a visual inspection can be done quarterly. If you notice any damage, call Kaloutas to repair it immediately to prevent further damage to the concrete floor. Repairing concrete joints typically involves filling in the cracks or replacing the damaged joint entirely.
Repair Damaged Joints Promptly
It is crucial to fix joint damage as soon as possible to prevent it from causing more problems. Small cracks can be repaired with a joint filler, while more extensive damage may require a more significant repair. Consult a flooring professional to determine the best repair method for your flooring system.
Maintain Proper Drainage
Ensure that your facility’s drainage systems are functioning correctly and that water drains away from the concrete floor. If water is allowed to pool around the concrete joints, it can cause damage to the joint and the surrounding concrete floor.
Floor maintenance is not something you can just skip over. If you do, your facility is likely to face not just operational but also legal issues.
What Happens When You Neglect Joint Maintenance?
Every facility manager and owner should pay attention to their concrete flooring joints, especially when the floor starts cracking. When the concrete floor starts to break, it indicates something is wrong with the joints.
Even the smallest crack should be taken seriously because it is likely to grow into significant problems in your facility, affecting your operations. For example, these superficial cracks can lead to uneven concrete settlement. If the joints are not properly sealed, water can seep in, causing the soil underneath the concrete to be unstable. This instability can cause the concrete to settle unevenly, leading to structural issues.
Another possible problem is joint spalling. This happens when the edges of the joints begin to chip or peel away, exposing the underlying concrete to the elements. To prevent this issue, ensure that the joints are adequately sealed and protected from the elements.
The cracks can be costly to fix. But the damage caused by neglected joint maintenance can go way beyond the repairs required in a facility’s physical infrastructure. It can extend to the assets within the facility. For example, if heavy machinery and vehicles like forklifts use the concrete floor, the crack could damage the vehicle’s tires, compromising their speed and efficiency. They will have to swerve to avoid these cracks, which can also put them in danger. The forklift may topple or collide with other forklifts or infrastructure in the area.
In addition, bad concrete is known to damage tires. Data from forklift dealers shows that 50% of tire replacements or repairs happen because of driving over damaged expansion joints in warehouse floors. Tire replacements and repairs aren’t cheap, and they often become ineligible for a warranty when damaged because of the above-mentioned reasons. The total amount will undoubtedly be bigger than you would pay for facility maintenance.
Since cracked concrete floors aren’t safe for workers, your facility may also face legal consequences. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires businesses to maintain clean and safe surfaces. So, maintaining the joints of concrete floors is not something you can choose to ignore.
Call the Pros
Simply put, concrete floor joint maintenance is something facility owners and managers should never neglect. It should always be a part of your facility maintenance.
When it comes to maintaining your facility, businesses should not take any chances. It is always beneficial to leave the job to the experts. Hiring experts in concrete floor joint maintenance can help ensure that your concrete floors are properly maintained and free from issues, such as cracks and uneven surfaces.
Experts have the knowledge and experience to identify potential problems and provide effective solutions to prevent further damage. They can also recommend the best products and techniques for maintaining your concrete floors to extend their lifespan and prevent costly repairs in the future. By hiring experts in concrete floor joint maintenance, you can have peace of mind knowing that your floors are in good hands and will remain safe and durable for years to come.
If you are searching for experts to fix your cracked concrete floor and prevent the problem in the future, you can count on Kaloutas. Let our experts at Kaloutas inspect, repair, and maintain your facility’s concrete control joints for sturdier, safer floors. Call the team today.