Concrete homes have been built since ancient times by both advanced and primitive civilisations. Problems can occur over time with improper preparation of both the material and the area around it. The most common sign of problems with concrete homes are cracks and surface scaling where layers of concrete begin to break off.
Uneven surfaces are a problem found in concrete flooring. Uneven concrete floors cause problems later with installation of linoleum or hardwood flooring over the concrete. Look for unstable foundations or improper levelling as the main cause of the uneven floor. Using either grinding or a patching compound can fix the unevenness if the problem is from poor levelling. Grinding removes bumps while patching raises low spots; these two methods are often combined to level the floor. Unstable foundations must be raised and repaired or rebuilt at the failure site.
Cracking and Scaling
Concrete ages and settles over time. Because of this process cracks and scaling can occur in both floors and walls. Look for this problem most often in colder climates where there is a freeze and thaw cycle. Use of patch compounds can eliminate minor scaling and cracks. More serious failures such as deep cracks or separated surfaces require rebuilding. Replacement of the reinforcing steel may be required for more serious cracking.
Mold and Moisture
Concrete absorbs moisture. Because of this fact any porous materials permanently installed over the concrete can serve as an environment for mould and pathogens. This includes carpeting, untreated wood floors and walls, sheetrock and panelling. Use plastic sheeting to create a vapour barrier between the concrete and the covering material to prevent moisture build-up.
Various environmental problems can occur with concrete homes. Settlement of the ground underneath the foundation can cause both floors and walls to crack; these cracks will increase in severity when not repaired quickly. Poured concrete will fail if frozen within the first 48 hours causing scaling and severe fractures. Sinkholes in the ground around foundations will cause uneven weight distribution; this will cause fracturing along seams and joints. Roots from large brush or trees can push against walls, foundations or floors; this force against the concrete will cause fractures and eventual failure.
Concrete expands and contracts. Evidence of this is found in basements as the top surface of flooring dries faster than the underlying surface causing warped edges; keep surfaces wet for several days to avoid this. Improper joint spacing can also cause cracks and fractures because there is no room for expansion of the connecting surfaces. Keep abutting surfaces 1/2 inch apart to avoid this.