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Cold Weather Concreting: How to Make it Work For You

(guest blog post by PowerBlanket)

Brace yourself, winter is coming. Among the many challenges associated with concrete construction, there is none more common than that of pouring and placing concrete in cold weather. While cold weather concreting has been addressed overtime with varying levels of effectiveness, there is really only one optimal approach to proper curing during cold weather. Additives and accelerators have unfavorable side effects, but insulated heat application doesn’t.

Bring the Heat

There may be instances where delaying or postponing a pour due to cold weather is an acceptable alternative. But in most cases, the project must go on. Fewer and fewer construction companies see winter as an off season. Construction continues through the coldest of months. In most cases, waiting for better weather is simply not an option. In situations where schedules and deadlines are critical, having a readily available curing solution for placing concrete in cold weather is your only option.

Cold weather concreting has longed been remedied by the inclusion of certain additives and accelerators within the concrete mixture. However, the primary downside to accelerators is their corrosive and dehydrating natures. Those who work with concrete know that proper hydration is vital to a strong and resilient cure, something that is counteracted by speeding the curing process through accelerators. However, accelerators aren’t the only method used for curing assistance. Here are some of the more common alternatives and practices used in addressing the need for cold weather concreting:

  • Standard Insulating Blankets
  • Chemical Additives such as concrete accelerators
  • Poly/Visqueen film cover
  • Poly/Visqueen film used in conjunction with forced air heaters
  • Straw / Burlap
  • Hydronic / Glycol systems
  • Electrically-Powered Heating Blankets

In unison with the use of the methods mentioned above, many concrete contractors also work with concrete manufacturers to get the proper type of concrete for cold weather application. Specialized concrete can include:

  • Specialized cold-weather mix design
  • Chemicals provided and added at the plant in the mix itself
  • Chemicals provided and added on-site

Of course, we’ve already mentioned that unfortunate effect of chemical additives, but regardless of this fact, many still use them. Thankfully, technology has come a long way, and there are methods of curing and obtaining the desired PSI rating that don’t run the risk of compromising the structural integrity of the concrete. The aforementioned electrically-heated concrete blankets are one of the methods growing in use and popularity. Documented studies have shown that full cures can be obtained up to 2.8 times faster with the use of insulated, electronic heating blankets. What’s more, not only do these blankets trump the effectiveness of chemical additives and other methods, they also have no compromising side effects.

Every curing solution should be measured on its own merits. Take into consideration the benefits that insulated heating blankets provide to concrete curing:

  • Prevents damage to concrete as a result of early-age freezing
  • Enables the development of concrete strength in a more timely fashion
  • Ensures long-term structural integrity of concrete
  • Does not hinder or counteract the hydration of concrete (in fact, they aid in hydration)
  • Keeps projects on schedule by reducing downtime and increasing curing speeds by as much as 2.8 times

Having the proper heating solution for pouring or placing concrete in cold weather is absolutely essential to strong concrete and to keeping projects on schedule. And of course, keeping projects on schedule is essential to every contractor’s profitability and reputation. So if you work with concrete during cold weather, you may want to very seriously consider investing in electronic curing blankets.

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Visit www.powerblanket.com for more details and contact your local A.H. Harris branch for pricing and availability.

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