Can A House Or Apartment Fire, Damage A Foundation?

Concrete is used  in many parts of a home or building. This includes the foundation, barriers, support beams and other structures. Concrete is also used as a fireproofing, due to its low thermal conductivity. In a substantial fire, concrete can weaken and sometimes must be replaced. This is the reason why insurance companies account for a foundation, when insuring a building or dwelling.

Facts of Concrete Being Exposed To Fire

Up to 300 °C(572F),  the concrete undergoes regular thermal expansion. Above that temperature, shrinkage occurs due to loss of water. Aggregate continues expanding, which causes internal stress. Up to about 500 °C, the major structural changes are carbonation and coarsening of pores. At 573 °C(1063F), quartz undergoes rapid expansion due to Phase transition, and at 900 °C(1652F) calcite starts to shrink due to decomposition. At 450-550 °C(842 to 1022F) the cement hydrate decomposes, producing calcium oxide. Calcium carbonate decomposes at about 600 °C(1112F). Rehydration of  calcium oxide on the dropping temperture of the concrete causes expansion. This can cause damage to the concrete which sustained the fire without falling apart. Concrete that has experienced a fire and left standing for several years shows extensive degree of carbonation and deteriation.

The Temperture of a house or apartment fire.

  • A House or Apartment Fire can exceed 1100F is 3 1/2 minutes.
  • The Heat from a fire can spread to any room. These temperatures can reach over 300F without an active fire in that room.

Overall if concrete of any sort is exposed long enough to fire, it could cause little or even a lot of damage. This can be a concern, due to the fact that the foundation supports the dwelling or building and supports a lot of wait. A Structural  or Civil engineer can determine if a foundation is safe or not.

Sources:

http://www.fairviewok.org/id71.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete#Leaching

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About Karen W. Schneider
I am a Licensed Property and Casualty Insurance Agent in Colorado, license #376411. I am the Customer Service Rep and Office Manager for Denvers Insurance Agency.

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