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Why Expansion Joints Fail

Posted by Kevin Hughes on Dec 21, 2018 10:59:00 AM

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If you have a business that has concrete floors, you might have areas that have expansion joints that can fail over time.  Expansion joints are used to help take the pressure off of building materials, such as large concrete areas.  It provides flexibility to the surface to allow for movement when temperatures change, or from surface load use.  

It can either compress or expand with the material that it is joining. An excellent example of where you could find expansion joints is in a warehouse store.  Since there is such a large area of coverage of concrete to cover, these extraordinary spacers help to keep the floor even with no gaps in between. Another reason for this kind of joint system is to direct any potential cracks in a specific direction, so that it will not branch out.

Why Do Expansion Joints Fail?

There are several different reasons why Expansion Joints fail, which include:

  • Inadequate Application - If the joint placement is not done correctly, it can lead to joint failure or displacement.  The joint will most likely have to be reinstalled or replaced.
  • Deficient Shielding – Such as when a floor has been resurfaced with something such as an epoxy coating, which does not allow for flexing, and the expansion joints were also covered with the same epoxy.  By doing this it can lead to a breakdown of the joints. Since the joints will not be able to do its job correctly, cracks will start to show.  If this is the case, the area that the joint(s) are in will have to be cleaned out and the correct type of expansion material and coating will need to be applied.
  • Too Much Pressure - This can happen if the area where the expansion joints are is overloaded with excess weight or have been pushed to close. It can also be from settling under the concrete. With this form a failure, the concrete can start to become unequal, that can cause more damage than to the floor.  The substrate will have to be inspected to understand the reason for the failure, then fixed.
  • Incorrect Handling - This can happen from the time that it leaves the manufactures up until the time of being placed.
  • Erosion – With constant cleaning of the floor with elements that can be abrasive to expansion joints, they will get worn down over time.  This can lead to things getting wedged around the joint, thus preventing it from doing its job. Bacteria can also invade an eroded joint, and this can cause health problems and possible code violations if not taken care of right away.  When this happens, depending on the severity level it can be repaired.

Joint Fillers

For fillers and sealers for Expansion Joints there are a few different types that can be used, and they are:

  • Epoxy
  • Polyurea
  • Polyurethane

Applications

There are also different ways in which to apply Joint Fillers and Sealers, which include:

  • Cold Application
  • Hot Application

In some cases the area where the Expansion Joint has failed, Backer Rods might have to be placed into the hollowed space so that a filler can be placed on top.  The reason for this is so that the coating filler will not sink after application.

Once applied there will more than likely be an overcoated look, which can be quickly taken care of by scraping off the top of the surface.  This will give the joint a nice and even plane on the floor.

Depending on the extent of repairs in most cases, they can be taken care of quickly so that you will have little to no downtime for your Business.

Types of Expansion Joints

Even though you can use the above applications in place of regular ones, there are three kinds of Joints, which are:

  • Fabric
  • Metal
  • Rubber

From the above kinds of Expansion Joints, there are multiple chooses of sizes, lengths and shapes.

Areas Where Expansion Joints are Used

Expansion Joints can also be used in many other places, not just on floors.

They are used in or on:

  • Bridges
  • Buildings (exterior & interior)
  • Parking Garages
  • Piping
  • Roads
  • Roofing
  • Runways
  • Ships
  • Sidewalks

If you are in need of any Expansion Joint repairs, it is advised to seek a professional service to take care of it, so that it can be done correctly.  They will have the knowledge needed to make sure that the job gets completed to the right specifications.

Topics: Industrial Projects, Commercial Painting

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