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Testing of Concrete, Problems of Concrete

Week 5

Department of Quantity Surveying
Faculty of Built Environment
UTM Skudai

A number of laboratory tests should be conducted
to ensure the concrete that has been produced
is up to the international standard and specification.
Most of the testing procedure has been set out by the
American Society for Testing and Materials

All sampling, curing and testing of concrete,
fresh or hardened, shall be carried out in
accordance with MS 26 and the relevant Parts
of BS 1881.
All necessary tests shall be carried out in an
engineering laboratory

Two main concrete test carried out:

Slump test * to measure workability and

slump of fresh concrete.

Compressive strength test for hardened

concrete (To determine the compressive strength
of concrete)

*measurement of Workability
The workability of the fresh concrete shall be
judged by its suitability for the condition of
handling and placing so that after compaction,
it surrounds all reinforcement, tendons and
ducts and completely fills the formwork.

Slump test
It is used extensively in site work all over
the world.
This test does not measure the workability
of concrete directly but is very useful in
detecting variations in the uniformity of a
Details of this test is given in ASTM C 172
Workability of the concrete shall be within
one of the following limits:
25mm or one third of the designed
workability, whichever is greater.

Slump Test testing procedure

according to ASTM C 172

Slump test equipments


Measuring the slump height

Tamping rod
Measurement in mm

Slump mold



Compression strength test

The degree of compaction called the
compacting factor is measured by the density
ratio; the ratio of the density actually achieved
in the test to the density of the same concrete
fully compacted.
BS 1881: Part 2, ACI Standard 211.3

The compressive/compression strength of

concrete shall be measured by crushing tests on
nominal 150mm cubes as specified in MS 26.

Compression strength test procedure

according to ASTM C 172
Please see Laboratory Work 2 format report
(prepared by Dr Kherun & Mr Zuhaili, 2009) for
the compression strength test procedure
Please refer Section D-Concrete Works clause
4.0 - 4.11 (JKR Specification)

Concrete compressive strength test equipments


Reference: Standard Specification for Building Works JKR (2005)

In the US, the compressive strength of concrete

is established from compression tests on
cylindrical specimens of 6 diameter and 12
In Malaysia, cube samples of size 2, 4 and 6
(50mm, 100mm and 150mm) are used for
compression tests.

Vebe test
Vebe is a good laboratory test particularly
for very dry mixes.
It has additional advantage that the
treatment of concrete during the test is
comparatively closely related to the method
of placing in practice.
Workability of the concrete shall be within
3 seconds or one fifth of the designed
workability whichever is lesser.

Comparison of Tests

Each of the previous tests measure only a particular

aspect of workability.

There is no rigid correlation between the

workabilities of concrete as measured by different
test methods.
The tests are quite arbitrary and empirical because
each of the tests is a single-point test measuring a
single quantity.
The results are influenced by minor variations in
techniques of carrying out the test.
None of these tests is capable of dealing with
concrete of whole range of workabilities.

Other types of concrete tests

Air Content Test

To calculate the air content of fresh concrete

Ball Penetration Test

To find the depth of penetration of a metal weight into freshly
mixed concrete (workability)

Rebound Number of Concrete Test

To determine the rebound number of hardened concrete. This to
ensure the uniformity of in-situ concrete and identify areas of
Poor quality concrete

Static Modulus of Elasticity Test

To determine Youngs modulus of elasticity of concrete

Flexural Strength of Concrete

To determine the flexural strength of concrete

Splitting Tensile Strength of Concrete

To determine the tensile strength of concrete

Problems of Concrete

Segregation and bleeding


Tendency for separation

between large and fine
particles of fresh concrete
Rock pocket (honeycombing),
sand streaks, crazing, and
surface scaling are usually
related to segregation
Honeycomb is a void left in
concrete from failure of the
mortar to fill the space among
coarser particles

Segregation and bleeding


Very wet, high slump mixture has the

tendency to segregate
Too much vibration during consolidation
may also cause segregation
To prevent segregation, fresh concrete
much be drop vertically and not at an angle
during placing the concrete.

Segregation and bleeding


The process of
separation of water from
the mixture
Lack of consistency will
cause the mixture to
unable to hold the mix
The water will slowly
gets displaced and then
rises to the top of the

The water will

eventually lost either
through evaporation or
by leakage through the
joints and sides of

As concrete sets, it slowly decreases in volume or
simply, it shrinks
Shrinkage or volume reduction, also called contraction
is the result of displacement of water from within to
the surface, and the loss of water to the surroundings
Aided by conditions prevailing in the environment (such
as high temperature and humidity) the surface water is
lost through evaporation

The reduction in volume of plastic concrete (the
volume reduction while the concrete sets), typically
the first twelve hours after placement, is called plastic
The shrinkage due to drying of hardened concrete is
called drying shrinkage

Plastic shrinkage

Drying shrinkage

Or initial shrinkage
If it is force to dry rather
quickly, the plastic shrinkage
is aggravated, leading to
stresses and eventual cracks
(short irregular cracks
distributed throughout the

Is gradual and the rate of

shrinkage decreases with time
w/c ratio is high (too wet)
drying shrinkage increases
(and increase the crack

Expansion and shrinkage

Concrete has a very low coefficient of thermal
very large forces can be created, causing cracks in
parts of the structure not capable of withstanding the
force or the repeated cycles of expansion and
As concrete matures it continues to shrink, due to the
ongoing reaction taking place in the material, although
the rate of shrinkage falls relatively quickly and keeps
reducing over time*
*(concrete considered to not shrink any further after 30 years).

Types of concrete fracture



Split or columnar

Cone and split

Cone and shear

Durability is the capacity of concrete to resist
deterioration from weathering (environment)

An exposed concrete structure must be durable to

resist freezing and thawing, heating and cooling, and
action by chemicals such as fertilizers
A concrete structure will normally remain durable if:
The cement paste is dense and of low permeability
Under exposed conditions, it has entrained air to
resist freeze-thaw cycles
It is made with graded aggregates that are strong and
The ingredients in the mix contain minimum
impurities such as alkalis, chlorides, sulfates and silt

Low strength and high permeability decrease
Under exposed conditions, concrete structures
will eventually fail or crumble due to these

Sulfate attack
Freeze thaw cycles
Reinforcement corrosion

Alkali-aggregate reaction
Alkali of portland cement reacts chemically
with some natural aggregates

Followed by expansion and swelling of the

aggregate particles causing cracks and
promoting disintegration of concrete

Sulfate attack
Sulfate in soil or seawater (sodium sulfate,
magnesium sulfate or calcium sulfate) can reacts
with calcium hydroxide and aluminates in the
It causes expansion and cracking in concrete
Can be minimised by using a cement that is low in
tricalcium aluminate like Type V and Type II

Freeze-thaw cycles
Freeze thaw is the process by which water that is
stored in voids within concrete expands from freezing
Consequently, the concrete cracks and deteriorates
Repeated freezing and thawing of aggregate particles
may also produce cracks
Entrained air and low w/c ratio provide good
protection for concrete against expansion from freeze
thaw cycles
Entrained air guarantees empty spaces within which
the compressed water from capillary pores can move
and freeze

In concrete with reinforcing or prestressing steel,
deterioration can also due to corrosion of the
The risk is higher for structures exposed to
seawater or salts
Corrosion effects the reinforcing steel by reducing
its effective cross-sectional area and also affects
the concrete thereby generating enough pressure
to cause cracking and spalling of concrete

Example of corrosion in reinforced concrete

Additional Reading
Section D-Concrete Works (JKR Specification,
Neville, A. M. and Brooks J. J. (1990). Concrete
Technology. Longman, London.
Blackledge, G. F. (1992). Concrete Practice.
Cement and Concrete Association, Slough, UK.
Neville, A. M. (1981). Properties of Concrete.
Pitmen, London.

The End