Salt can do a lot of damage to concrete, but not in the way most people think. Once winter ends and spring comes around, your concrete may look like a broken mess. Here's what deicer salt and moisture can do to your concrete.
It's Not Technically the Salt
Technically, the salt isn't what's causing the damage to your concrete. In fact, properly sealed concrete does a good job of keeping the effects of salt from doing anything to your concrete. It's more about how salt behaves when it encounters moisture.
The purpose of deicing salt is to melt snow and ice. That will leave your concrete to deal with the product of that melt, which is a lot of water. Even some of the toughest concrete sealers will have a hard time dealing with an overabundance of water. This is especially true of water that just sits there on the surface.
Once the moisture seeps in, it can weaken your concrete. Once the concrete weakens, cracks will start to develop, and then expand. If the water refreezes and then thaws while saturating your concrete, the concrete will break fairly quickly.
What makes matters even worse is that salt attracts water. In addition, salt causes water to freeze at a lower temperature. So, while it's not technically the salt damaging your concrete, the salt still serves as a catalyst.
What You Can Do About the Effects of Salt
If you're the one putting down the rock salt, try to use sand instead when winter comes back around. Sand doesn't melt anything, but it does give you traction.
If it's the town leaving rock salt on, or near your property, there's not much you can do to stop it. There's a few things you can do to make your concrete more resistant to the effects of salt and moisture.
Look for professional concrete services – One of the best defenses is to start with concrete that's mixed by professionals, and installed by professionals. Some concrete mixes work better to ward off the effects of salt and moisture than others.
Look for proper concrete finishing services – There's ways to seal concrete to give it a finish designed specifically to combat the effects of salt and water saturation. For example, it's possible to use penetrating sealers that fill in the pores of the concrete.
This will keep the moisture out. On top of that, the contractor can apply another seal that acts as a membrane. The two together can keep virtually all the moisture out, and prevent the moisture that does make it to the actual concrete from doing too much damage.
You don't have to wait until winter to make use of these solutions. Speak to concrete services contractor about what you can do to make your concrete stronger in general, as well as more resistant to deicing salt in the winter.