Visual inspection should be the first step during evaluation of an existing concrete structure. Typical construction faults that may be found during a visual inspection include bug holes, exposed reinforcing steel, honeycombing and irregular surfaces caused by improperly aligned forms. These irregularities are usually the result of poor workmanship.

A few common defects found in existing concrete construction, as well as the most common reason for the defect to occur, are given below.

Scaling is the localized flaking or peeling away of the near-surface portion of the hardened concrete. Scaling is usually a result of freeze/thaw cycles.

Dusting is the development of a powdered material at the surface of hardened concrete. Typically a result of poor workmanship.

Spalling is the development of fragments, detached from a larger mass. The material being dislodged from the mass is concrete, and not individual aggregate particles that are separated as the binding matrix disintegrates. Spalling is commonly caused by corrosion of steel reinforcement embedded in the concrete.

Popouts are shallow, typically conical depressions in a concrete surface. Popouts are generally the result of the freeze/thaw cycle of the concrete and porous aggregate.

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