Concrete structures are often considered permanent structures with a life span of over 50 or more years. All the same, they require periodic maintenance that can be put in place after a proper inspection of the structure. A concrete inspection system then allows you to know the portions of the structure that need maintenance or other action.
Inspection of a concrete structure will assure you that it is structurally sound and fit for the use for which it was designed. It helps to identify any part of it that has the potential to cause trouble or is actually distressed and can do so well in advance. Any inspection system must have a protocol of recording periodically and structurally the state of the structure on the dates when it has been inspected. This can help in knowing when any defects like deformation or loss of shape or size have occurred. Once this information is noted and evaluated, then decisions can be taken to on the need for carrying out any repairs, the mode of carrying them out. for strengthening the structure or opting for replacement of parts or the entire structure.
A concrete inspection system can be routine, detailed or special. Routine inspections need a periodic inspection of the structure by competent engineers, and will be largely visual, and can take the help of simple instruments. Any indications of damage or deterioration, the color of the concrete, cracks, spalling, rust streaks, leaching, exudation, deformations, etc. must be noted with photographs denoting the location of these defects.
If the routine inspection does suggest problems, immediate or anticipated, it is then necessary to carry out a more detailed, thorough, and intensive inspection. This may require the use of special or more sophisticated equipment and the services of engineers trained to carry out such inspections. This detailed inspection must then be evaluated by experts after taking the help of the engineers who have prepared this report. This evaluation can then point to unusual occurrences that will then need a special inspection.
Special inspection of concrete structures is indicated when during detailed or routine inspections signs of any weakening of the structure are noted. You can also carry out such inspection, if, in the immediate future, a change in the usage of the structure that can lead to increased loads or other conditions is anticipated. A special inspection may also be needed if any parts of the structure are showing signs of distress. Settlement of foundations, subsidence, or seismic activity of worrying intensities, can also make it sensible to carry out special inspections. Fires, accidents, floods, and storms can also point to the need for a special investigation.
Special investigations are need-based and may require testing and analysis that must involve structural engineers. Every inspection must be properly recorded, and if any rehabilitation or repairs are required they be suggested and implemented before the next round of inspections becomes due. These repairs can be cosmetic, need repairs to structures, or replacement of elements or the structure itself.