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Concrete Alkalinity-pH Introduction

Unlike the anhydrous calcium chloride and in-situ relative humidity testing which focus on the dampness properties of a concrete substrate, alkalinity-pH testing is used to detect the alkaline value of the concrete surface.  High alkalinity-pH has been recognized for years as the destructive resource for damaging adhesives, primers, coating adhesion and peal-n-stick flooring products.    

Alkalinity-pH testing is recommended in all installation guidelines BEFORE the application of a wide variety of floor products.  It is also a requirement BEFORE you install a moisture treatment technology! However most installers overlook the requirement and focus solely on the relative humidity and anhydrous calcium chloride result for determining the acceptance of the concretes condition.  The next sign of a concrete moisture issue is typically accompanied by higher concentrations of alkalinity-pH at the bond layer, which had never been mentioned during the concrete testing process.  This will void nearly all flooring adhesive, peal-n-stick, cement patching and moisture treatment products warranties.    

The ideal condition for most flooring adhesives is an alkalinity-pH level of less than 9.0pH at the surface of the concrete BEFORE you install the floor.  Most technical personnel understand that the concretes internal alkalinity-pH levels typically ranges from 12.5 to 13.8pH and when you cover high moisture readings with a product, the potential for dampness to collect under the floor product is increased.  The increased dampness under the flooring allows the natural internal alkalinity-pH source to be suspended in the dampness to cause a number of flooring damage.  So you could say that concrete is always a source of dampness and alkalinity-pH after the floor products are installed.  

Testing is required at a rate of three (3) tests for the first 1,000 square feet of flooring and one (1) additional test for each 1,000 square feet of flooring space thereafter.  This will account for approximately each batch truck mix of concrete that was originally delivered to the site.  To perform alkalinity-pH testing properly you must clean the concrete surface of curing, sealing compounds and all other potential surface residues.  Apply a 1 inch puddle of clean water and allow to absorb into the concrete for approximate 60 seconds.  Insert the digital alkalinity-pH meter and wait 10 seconds for meter to calculate.  The meter is the only method to distinguish a reading of 9.5 and 10.8pH to maintain the warranty requirements of the flooring manufacturer.  Most installers perform this test during their concrete process with the HVAC balanced and operating. This will allow moisture movement in the concrete and proper testing conditions.  

Check List:

1) Use a calibrated digital alkalinity-pH meter www.DomeTest.com

2) Clean the concrete surface of curing and sealing compounds

3) Perform three (3) tests for the first 1,000 square feet and one (1) additional test for each 1,000 square feet of flooring thereafter.   Example: 10,000 square feet of flooring = 13 test results

4) Highlight results over 9.0pH for review with your floor adhesives, coatings, primers and patching compounds 

5) Remember the alkalinity-pH will increase after the floor is installed