Brief 

Brett Smith examines how expert analysis solved three case studies which involved issues in placing concrete. “When there is a serious and unexpected problem with concrete, forensic experts with backgrounds in engineering and construction materials can use microscopy, chemical analysis and other methods to describe the mechanisms behind the damage,” Smith writes.

 

Insight

While every concrete structure demands maintenance every so often, sometimes this go-to construction material abruptly cracks, chips off, becomes discolored, corrodes or even fails to support crucial structures.

When there is a serious and unexpected problem with concrete, forensic experts with backgrounds in engineering and construction materials can use microscopy, chemical analysis and other methods to describe the mechanisms behind the damage.

Find Out More About Chemical Analysis

Their analyses may identify bad elements in the concrete mix, mistakes from contractors, contaminants or various other factors that have negatively impacted integrity and/or appearance. The findings of these investigations can be used to address the problem, prevent it later on, or identify a liable party.

How Concrete is Made
To understand the work of a concrete forensic investigator, it helps to know how concrete is made.

First, cement powder is mixed with small rocks and sand, which is known as aggregate. Next, the dry materials are mixed with water, which turns the cement powder into a glue-like substance that binds the aggregate. Eventually, the entire mix hardens into the familiar rocklike material we know as concrete.

 

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