Avoid Unnecessary Costs and Delays During Cold Weather Concreting

7 Things to Avoid When Working With Concrete in Cold Weather

Although contractors might wish they didn’t have to work in cold weather, construction doesn’t stop when temperatures drops. To help you be better prepared, take a look at these 7 common mistakes to avoid during cold weather concreting.

1. Pouring Concrete on Frozen Ground

One of the biggest mistakes in concrete placement is placing concrete on frozen ground. Frozen ground can settle when thawed, causing the concrete to crack. Second, the fresh concrete closest to the ground will cure slower than the surface, resulting in the top setting and the bottom staying soft.

2. Using Cold Tools

It is just as important to keep your tools and buildings materials warm as it is the concrete. If forms or tools are cold, it could alter the concrete that comes into contact with them.

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3. Not Using Heaters

As you probably know, the warmer the concrete, the faster it cures. When allowing fresh concrete to cure in the cold, the curing can stop altogether. Portable heaters deliver heat into the ground or into a concrete pour, so you can work through winter. Be careful when using heat; improperly heating the concrete can result in a weak structure.

4. Sealing Concrete When it’s Too Cold

If you are placing concrete in cold weather, it is advised to get a proper recommendation from the producer/manufacturer before sealing. Sealing typically should not be done if the temperature is below 10°C.
problems with placing concrete in cold weather

5. Misjudging Daylight

During cold weather months, the amount of daylight lessens. It is essential to use your time wisely, as running behind schedule could lead to more problems. Daylight will not only give you an abundance of light, it will also give warmer temperatures. If the concrete must be poured before or after the sun has passed, be sure to follow #3 on this list.

6. Allowing your Concrete to Freeze

Concrete should be kept warm (around 10°C), in order to cure properly. Fresh concrete can freeze at -4°C, so it is important to warm fresh concrete until it has the proper compressive strength measurement. This can be done more efficiently using a concrete temperature and maturity meter, such as SmartRock.

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7. Not Using Real-time Temperature Sensors

Temperature monitoring in cold weather is important to ensure the production of high-quality concrete that meets temperature specifications and avoids the above problems. Among these problems are the freezing of concrete in early stages, lack of required strength, rapid temperature changes, inadequate protection of the structure and its serviceability, and improper curing procedures. These problems can be avoided by taking special precautions to ensure optimal temperature of concrete is maintained during the curing stages and observing a few principles such as protecting concrete from freezing and ensuring little or no external moisture is added unless located in a heated enclosure. It is up to the manager’s discretion to decide whether operating during cold weather will be possible without any issues or if it is wiser to wait for warmer temperatures, and to guarantee the quality of the work being produced.

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*” Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.” 

Unlike time-consuming and error-prone cylinder break tests, or cumbersome wired sensors, SmartRock™ is simple to install and gives construction companies the most accurate information to make critical decisions in real-time. Used in over 4,000 projects worldwide, across 80 countries, this sensor is trusted by project managers and superintendents to help accelerate project timelines and optimize construction schedules more efficiently. Learn More!