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Failure Analysis and Forensic Investigations

Concrete is a widely used precast element and used in-situ in walls, floors, foundations and structural components. There are rules in Eurocode 2 for use of concrete with regards to strength, durability, fire resistance and movement tolerances. When installations fail, a forensic examination is required to understand the failure mechanism in order to: detail methods of repair, understand the consequences of the failure, or ultimately, to be able to define culpability.

Lucideon has a number of techniques available for forensic/failure analysis which can be split into two categories; site investigation followed by laboratory analysis.

Site Investigation

An initial desk study will be followed by a visual site inspection to assess the failure mode. Depending on the apparent failure, a programme of intrusive and non-intrusive sampling can be carried out:

Intrusive coring of samples to establish:

  • Depth of cover to rebar
  • Construction of slab/column/beam
  • Presence of honeycombing
  • Moisture content and density
  • Depth of foundation.

Non-intrusive investigation:

  • Mapping of rebars using Hilti Ferroscan
  • Presence of voids using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)
  • Estimated compressive strength using Schmidt Hammer or Windsor Pin
  • Presence of movement joints
  • Drop hammer testing of screeds to establish strength
  • Slip/skid testing of surface
  • Half cell potential.

Laboratory Analysis

  • Compressive strength*
  • Mix proportions including identification of additives*
  • Petrographic analysis*
  • Sulphate content*
  • Chloride content*
  • Depth of carbonation
  • Alkali silica reaction
  • Presence of High Alumina Cement (HAC)*

Lucideon is a UKAS accredited test laboratory for many tests to BS 1881 and BS EN 12390, including the ones marked with an *.

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