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Troubleshooting

Publication #C00L090
Copyright © 2000 Hanley-Wood, LLC
All rights reserved

Problem Honeycomb and Voids


Honeycomb: Area containing primarily coarse aggregate
Voids: Areas containing no concrete

Causes high ambient and concrete Concrete placement:


temperatures can cause ■ Vibrate properly.

H oneycomb forms when


mortar fails to fill voids
between coarse-aggregate
concrete to stiffen, reducing
its flowability. Adding a
retarder may help, but
Workers must be trained to
vibrate concrete correctly to
ensure that it flows around
particles. The defect may be retarders don’t necessarily reinforcing steel, embed-
purely cosmetic or, depend- prevent slump loss. ments, and blockouts.
ing on the location and ■ Ensure flow under
extent of honeycombing, Forming and rebar blockouts. Build up a head
may be structural and re- placement: of concrete on one side of
Honeycomb
quire repair. For instance, ■ Review reinforce- small blockouts, and vibrate
honeycombing behind post- ing enough cementitious ment details. Closely spaced the concrete until it appears
tensioning anchors may material and fine sand will rebar, insufficient clearance on the other side. Large
require repair so the post- be prone to segregation and between the rebar and blockouts require concrete
tensioning forces don’t won’t flow well. Consider forms, and closely spaced to flow many feet laterally,
cause compressive failure of adding a blend sand or lap splices all interfere with so you may need to use
concrete in the bearing area. additional portland cement concrete flow and vibration. pour pockets beneath these
Voids form when con- or fly ash to increase the Work with the steel detailer blockouts. Drill holes in
crete fails to fill areas in a amount of fines. Increasing to minimize these problems. the bottom of a blockout
form, typically those under the ratio of fine-to-coarse ■ Provide access to to allow displaced air to
large blockouts, in very aggregate will increase work- forms. Narrow or tall escape.
deep placements, or that are ability only if 5% to 10% forms prevent observation ■ Avoid delays. If the
heavily reinforced. Voids of the sand passes the No. and access during concrete placement is not going as
are almost always structural 100 sieve. placement. Consider reduc- fast as planned, ready-mix
defects requiring repair. ■ Increase slump. Even ing lift heights or using trucks may have to wait
Causes of honeycomb with the correct amount of flexible tremie hose. You before discharging material
and voids include stiff or paste, a mix can lack work- may have to cut placing and the concrete will start
unworkable concrete, seg- ability and won’t flow into ports into forms containing to stiffen. You can reduce
regation, congested rebar, place. To improve flow, in- heavily reinforced sections. stiffening by using retarding
insufficient consolidation, crease slump to 6 to 8 inches ■ Build tight form admixtures, but a better
and improper placing prac- by adding a water reducer joints. Mortar loss through approach is to alert the
tices. or superplasticizer. form joints may cause honey- concrete producer when
■ Reduce aggregate comb, particularly with wet- unavoidable placing delays
P re v e n t i o n size. If closely spaced re- ter mixes. Tighten or tape occur.
inforcement or other obsta- form joints as necessary.

P reventing honeycomb and


voids starts with attention
to concrete mix proportions.
cles hinder concrete flow,
consider reducing coarse-
aggregate size below the
Voids References
“Guide to Consolidation of
Concrete in Congested Areas,”
Proper techniques for form- maximum allowed by ACI ACI 309.R-92, American
ing, rebar placement, and 318-99, “Building Code Concrete Institute, Farmington
concrete placement also are Requirements for Structural Hills, Mich., 1992.
important. Concrete.” Such a change
Bruce Suprenant and Kim
requires an overall review Basham, “Placing and Vibra-
Concrete proportions: of mix proportions. ting Poured Concrete Walls,”
■ Provide enough ■ Control setting rate. CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION,
paste. Concrete not contain- Slow placement rates and February 1993, pp. 131–134.