What Should You Know About Pouring Concrete in Cold Weather?

December 29, 2021

Most concrete work is done between April and October, and there’s a reason for this—concrete doesn’t exactly enjoy cold weather.

Cold weather for the purposes of concrete installation is any time the air temperature falls below 40°F. Low temperatures can result in challenges with concrete curing, as well as lead to potential cracking or strength issues.

If you’re set on pouring concrete in cold weather, the good news is there are still ways you can complete the job with reliable, high-quality results—it just takes some additional precautions.

Here are a few examples of some of the steps you must take to successfully install concrete in cold weather:

  • Dealing with frozen ground: Never attempt to pour concrete on frozen ground or on areas covered with ice or snow. Frozen ground will settle when it thaws, which will result in cracks in the concrete. In addition, ground that is cold will cause the concrete to set more slowly, as the concrete will get cold when poured. If the ground has already frozen in your area, you’re going to have to wait for it to thaw until you can consider moving forward with a concrete installation or other mitigation tasks.
  • Heaters: One such mitigation technique is to use a construction heater or electric blanket to thaw the ground in the area you need to pour the concrete. The more ground you have to heat up, though, the more difficult this process will be—and also more time-consuming and expensive.
  • Remove snow: Be sure to remove all snow and ice in any areas where you will be placing concrete. If there is any standing water due to melt in areas that will be near the concrete, that water could get mixed into the concrete, so you should do what you can to remove and divert it.
  • Warm up items: If you have anything else that will be coming into contact with the concrete (such as forms or embedments), make sure they are warmed to at least 32°F before you begin the process. Try to cover up everything (including all equipment being used) with tarps the day before the pour to attempt to keep it as dry and warm as possible. Smaller tools should be kept in a truck, trailer or heated facility.
  • Bring tarps and blankets: Tarps and blankets can be used to cover areas to provide some additional insulation if the weather is going to be cold.
  • Lights: Remember that during the winter, the days are shorter, so you may need to bring work lights if you’re going to get started early or work late.
  • Be prepared for heat loss: There will be some heat loss from the time you mix the concrete to the time you pour it. Be ready for this, and try to get the mix into the installation area as quickly as possible.

When is it too cold to pour concrete, and what do you need to know about pouring concrete in cold weather? Contact us today at Langenfeld Masonry & Concrete for more information.

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