Cold Weather Concrete Pours: Preparation and Proper Curing Procedures

Cold Weather Concrete Pours: Preparation and Proper Curing Procedures

November 16, 2020

Pouring concrete is particularly difficult in cold weather, but it’s not impossible. The key is to prevent the concrete from freezing before it cures. In cold temperatures, the water content in the concrete will freeze and damage its structural integrity.

You can pour concrete at temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but once the temperature starts dropping below 20 degrees, it’s best to wait until the weather warms back up. Temperatures of 20 degrees and below are too cold to keep the concrete warm enough to cure properly, even with insulation and other techniques.

Here’s what you need to know about laying concrete in cold weather in Hudson, CO.

How to prepare for cold weather concrete pours

  • Preheat the materials: Preheating the water and/or the sand and aggregate can help it stay at the appropriate temperature as it cures. The components may be preheated before the mixing truck leaves for the work site, or it can be mixed with hot water on-site. Alternatively, it can be stored on-site in heated containers.
  • Adjust the mixture: Another way to prepare for cold weather is to adjust the mixture ratio. For example, your weather may require you to add more cement or chemical admixtures.
  • Use Portland cement: Portland cement type III is great for setting cold weather concrete. However, you should avoid slag cement and fly ash, as they set slowly and don’t generate enough internal heat.

How to get great curing results

  • Use live steam: Cold weather slows the curing process, and the dry, cold air often makes the process harder. Pumping hot live steam into an enclosure, around where the cement is curing, can help mitigate the dry, cold air.
  • Keep forms in place as long as possible: If you’re pouring concrete with forms, try to leave them in place as long as you can. They help keep the heat in, and prevent the concrete from drying too quickly.
  • Wait until the bleed water has evaporated: Bleeding happens slower than pouring concrete in warm weather, but when it starts, you may find that it seems excessive. Prepare for more bleed water than normal and wait for it to evaporate before you finish.
  • Keep an eye on the temperature: Use an infrared heat thermometer to keep an eye on the concrete temperature as it dries and cures. It needs to maintain a temperature of at least 40 degrees during the curing process.
  • Use enclosures or insulation: Finally, make sure that you use insulation or an enclosure to keep the concrete warm while it cures. This helps ensure that your concrete cures at the right rate, which keeps it strong and durable.

Although most places don’t recommend pouring concrete in cold weather, it’s possible to do—and if done properly, it can actually increase the concrete’s strength.

To learn more about our approach to getting the right cold weather concrete mix in Hudson, CO for your type of project, talk to the team at High Plains Engineering & Design, LLC today. We look forward to assisting you!

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