TEXT 2. THE PROPERTIES OF CONCRETE
Concrete must be hard, strong, durable, dense, non-porous, fire-resisting and economical.
Concrete has proved to be durable when made of good materials, well mixed, and properly cured. Failures can be found in concrete work, but the trouble is usually caused by poor material, faulty foundations, and lack of knowledge of the properties or poor workmanship. For example some cements will give better results in sea water than others. This fact had to be established by experience and experiments.
It is more difficult to secure durable reinforced concrete than mass concrete. This is due to the reinforcing steel and the additional water required to make the concrete flow around the steel bars. When moisture reaches the steel, it will rustand expansion caused by the rust will crack the concrete, resulting in unsightly structure and necessary repairs. In all structures exposed to the weather the reinforcing steel must be carefully placed and well secured so that it cannot be displaced while concreting. Small wires will soon cause rust spots on the surface of the concrete if they are exposed.
Concrete, to be durable, must be made of good materials, uniform in quality, mixed with a minimum of water, and properly placedand protected while curing. Concrete exposed to sea water and the rise and fall of water levels, especially in cold climates where ice forms on the structures, requires special attention in the selection of the cement, aggregates, mixing, placing and curing.
With the use of dense aggregates the proportions which will produce the densest products are generally those which contain the maximum amount of coarse aggregateand still contain enough fine aggregate to produce a smooth surface. With porous aggregates used in the production of light weight units, the amount of material in the mix passing a 50-mesh sieve is generally limited and in addition more of the coarse aggregate is used to produce a unit of less density and lower weight. This is generally desirable for light weight units except where fire resistance or watertightness are important.
The strength of plain concrete depends upon the quality of the cement, the strength and character of the aggregate, the quantity of cement in a unit of volume, and the density of the concrete. Other things being equal the strongest concrete is that containing the largest amount of cement in a given volume of concrete, the strength of the concrete varying directly as the amount of cement. The strength of concrete also depends upon the methods used in mixing, upon the care taken in measuring the ingredients, and in the mixing and placing the concrete. Concrete exposed to the air hardens more rapidly than protected concrete. The setting of cement is a chemical change brought about by the addition of water to the cement, the strength increasing very rapidly the first few days, after which the mixture slowly hardens and increases in strength.
Concrete has poor elastic and tensional properties, but it strong in compression.Its tensile strength is only one-tenth of its compressive strength. The compressive strength of plain concrete varies between wide limits, depending upon the cement, the proportions of cement and aggregates, and the methods of mixing, and placing and the age.