When we talk about the damage that water can do to your building, rust jacking is the most severe outcome in regard to steel reinforced structures. Rust jacking is what happens when a little water problem becomes an urgent structural problem that you cannot ignore.

In this post, we’re going to talk about what rust jacking is, how to tell that it’s happening, and how to prevent it.

What is rust jacking?

There are a couple of different names for this problem. You might also hear it called “oxide jacking” or “rust burst.” When steel meets water, oxidation happens. As steel oxidizes, it expands to several times its normal size.

When the steel is in a confined space, this is bad news. The steel expands and displaces whatever is around it. In our business, that “whatever” is the concrete structural member of your building. That leads to unattractive crumbling and structural weakness.

What does rust jacking look like?

There are a few signs that you have a corrosion problem. The first is rust staining. As water moves through exposed substrate, it meets corroded steel. When it leaks out onto the surface of the concrete, that water leaves a noticeable rust stain (ferrous oxide).

Once the corroded metal begins to expand, you may notice spalling or delamination on the surface. When the substrate begins crumbling, you will be able to see exposed, rusted rebar.

How can you prevent rust jacking?

Obviously, if you take water out of this equation, there is no rust. The best way to prevent rust jacking from destroying your structure is to prevent water from getting to steel. Over time, concrete structures are stressed by the elements. If you repair these problem areas on a regular basis, the chances of water making it to the steel beneath go way down. Regular maintenance will protect your building from the kind of water damage that causes rust jacking.

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