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Repair of Reinforcement in Concrete

The reinforcement repair techniques are different for mild steel and prestressing steel.

1. Mild reinforcing steel

The damaged bars may either be replaced or supplemented by additional reinforcement based on engineering judgment, the purpose of the reinforcement and the required structural strength of the member.

a) Replacement: In case it is decided to replace the bars, splicing of reinforcement with the remaining steel must be done. The lap length must be according to the provision of ACI 318 and the welding (if used) must satisfy ACI 318 and American Welding Society (AWS) D1.4 (or the codal provisions of the respective country). Butt welding is usually avoided due to the high degree of skill required to perform a full penetration weld because the back side of a bar is not usually accessible. Welding of bars larger than 25 mm may cause problems because the embedded bars may get hot enough to expand and crack the surrounding concrete. Mechanical connectors may also be used according to the code requirements.

b) Supplemental reinforcement: This alternative is selected when the reinforcement has lost cross section, the original reinforcement was inadequate, or the existing member needs to be strengthened. The allowable loss of cross-sectional area of the existing reinforcing steel and the decision to add supplemental reinforcement must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and is the responsibility of the engineer. The damaged reinforcing bar must be cleaned and extra space is to be created by removing concrete to allow placement of the supplemental bar beside the old bar. The length of the supplemental bar must be equal to the length of the deteriorated segment of the existing bar plus a lap-splice length for smaller diameter bar on each end.

Reinforcing bars, having corrosion of their original deformations, give less bond and this factor must be considered while designing the repair of the reinforcement.

c) Coating of reinforcement: New and existing bars that have been cleaned may be coated with epoxy, polymer cement slurry, or a zinc-rich coating for protection against corrosion. The coating must have a thickness less than 0.3 mm to minimize loss of bond development at the deformations.


2. Prestressing steel

Deterioration or damage to the strands or bars can result from impact, design error, overload, corrosion, or fire. Fire may anneal cold-worked, high-strength prestressing steel. The unbonded high-strength strands may need to be detensioned before repair and retensioned after repair to restore the initial structural integrity of the member.

a) Bonded strands: Because the prestressed strand is bonded, only the exposed and damaged section is restressed following repairs. The repair procedure requires replacing the damaged section with the new section of strand connected to the existing ends of the undamaged strands. The new strand section and the exposed lengths of the existing strand must be post-tensioned to match the stress level of the bonded strand.

b) Unbonded tendons: The strands are protected against corrosion by the sheathing, corrosion-inhibiting material (commonly grease), or both. Corrosion of the end connections and the strand has been the primary cause of failure of unbonded tendons. A deteriorated portion of a strand can be exposed by excavating the concrete and cutting the sheathing. Unbonded tendons can be tested to verify their ability to carry the design load. This can be done by attaching a chuck and coupler to the exposed end of the strand and performing a lift-off test. This usually requires at least 20 mm of free strand beyond the bulkhead. If there is excessive corrosion in the strand, failure occurs and the strand must be replaced or spliced. Shoring of the span being repaired and adjacent spans up to several bays away may be required before removing or retensioning unbonded prestressed strands.

The strand is cut on both sides of the deterioration and the removed portion of the strand is replaced with a new section. The new strand is spliced to the existing strand at the location of the cuts. The repaired strand is then prestressed. Carbon fiber or equivalent systems are available to supplement the reinforcement in prestressed, post-tensioned, and mild steel reinforced structures. This system is normally glued onto the exterior surface. Unless the component being reinforced is unloaded, the strengthening system only provides reinforcement for future loadings. Fiber wrapping is commonly used for reinforcing columns, especially in earthquake zones. There are systems available that recover the dried and damaged protective barrier within the sheathing.