Common Mistakes to Avoid During Cold Concrete Installation
Concrete installation jobs are important projects that have to progress no matter what. Even though concrete installers wish that they could stop working during the cold weather, construction won’t stop even when the temperature plummets as this affects the progress and timeline of the entire project. Little do people know that temperatures actually play a big part in the progress of the project. The way you would approach a project changes depending on the weather conditions and other factors, such as humidity and pollution.
As the temperature changes, the curing process for the concrete changes, which results in erratic strength gain. This is the reason why skilled concrete installers plan months ahead and prepare for the weather changes to protect the fresh concrete. Also, it helps to have the proper equipment at the project area, such as blankets and tarpaulins, which help reduce unnecessary delays and encourage safe concrete development. To put this into greater detail, according to the American Concrete Institute, cold weather is described as three continuous days of low outdoor temperatures of around four degrees.
Here are common mistakes many people make when installing concrete during cold weather.
Placing Concrete on Frozen Ground
An untrained individual wouldn’t think that the placement of the concrete slab affects the success of the concrete curing conditions. If you happen to place a slab on frozen ground, it can cause the concrete to crack when it thaws due to the melted water coming in contact with the concrete. Also, it’s worth noting that the concrete won’t cure evenly since the concrete that is closest to the ground will cure slowly while the section on top remains soft and fragile.
This could be disastrous since concrete slabs with varying temperature gradients won’t develop strength evenly, leading to cracking or structural failure that requires the services of a concrete repair expert. During the time that the ground is frozen, you can use this opportunity to plan out the other steps of the project or inspect other facets of the job to ensure everything is going as planned.
Allowing Concrete to Freeze
One of the most critical mistakes anyone involved in a concrete installation project must avoid is to let the concrete slabs freeze. During an installation project, you should ensure that your concrete is consistently warm at around 50 degrees so that it can cure properly and maintain its strength and integrity. Fresh concrete can freeze at around 25 degrees or sub-zero temperatures so it’s important to keep the slabs constantly warm until it gets to the optimal compressive strength measurement.
This can be done accurately and efficiently using specialized equipment like a concrete temperature and maturity meter. This device acts as a data logger that records the temperature history of the concrete using sensors inside the concrete, and this gives concrete maintenance contractors an accurate breakdown of how the concrete is doing.
Using Cold Tools During Installation
Even if you keep your concrete warm all throughout the project, it will be all for naught if you’re using cold installation and building tools. Keep in mind that your tools are just as important as the concrete that you’re going to install. Since the tools come into direct contact with the concrete, they will alter the temperature of the concrete, which will make it more difficult for it to cure. In the long run, this will negatively impact the strength development of your concrete slab, and this can lead to cracking or premature deterioration.
We advise keeping them stored in a sealed box to prevent external temperature from affecting their temperature. Also, avoid leaving your tools outside lying around, not only to prevent them from getting cold, but also for safety purposes as they could be dropped accidentally and injure other contractors or damage the concrete. You wouldn’t want to have an additional concrete repair just because of simple mistakes like this.
Not Utilizing Heaters
As stated earlier, both your tools and concrete slabs need to stay warm so that the concrete will cure properly and develop integrity and strength. Your concrete won’t cure at all once the temperature drops below the recommended levels. This is why it’s important to keep the slabs warm at all times, and this can be achieved through the use of portable heaters. These tools can deliver extra heat into the ground and on the concrete surface. This ensures that the slabs keep curing even during cold weather so that they can build their strength. However, you need to be careful not to go overboard because applying too much heat can also weaken the concrete structure as well. Find the right balance of temperature so that the curing process will remain consistent all throughout.
Sealing Concrete During Cold Weather
Concrete sealers are used to make your concrete structure more robust and resistant against exterior elements and the weather. If you’re installing concrete in an area with strong blizzards, we advise you to get sealers that work well in these conditions based on the advice of your concrete supplier. Also, concrete sealing should be avoided if the temperature drops below 50 degrees.
Not Tracking Daylight
During the winter months, the amount of daylight lessens. As such, every second that goes by during this period counts since any delays in the concrete project can lead to more problems. Aside from providing visibility, daylight also provides natural warmth, and this helps your concrete cure effectively. During the project, make sure that the work for the day is done before sunset. It’s also difficult to work once the sun sets because temperatures will drop even further, and you’ll have to rely on artificial light, which consumes energy and makes it difficult to see your surroundings.
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