As your Chicagoland concrete experts, we have a few tips on pouring concrete in the cold weather and winter months. It’s getting chillier every day here in Chicago and across the Great Lakes.
Here’s what you need to know.
Ice is never your friend.
Do not pour concrete when the ground is frozen. The concrete will crack as soon as the land thaws. More dangerously, the top of the pour might set while what’s below stays wet (for longer than you’d expect). You will get a “crust” on top, and might think the concrete has hardened, but that’s tricky to gauge without understanding the cold weather. Don’t risk this.
You can make that ice go away, however.
Thaw the ground! It sounds silly, but professionals use hydroponic heat pipes and other heating equipment in order to thaw the area that requires a concrete pour. They’ll remove ice and any standing water. They’ll pour the concrete, and then cover the area with electric blankets and/or other warming technology to get it to set. They might even use additional lighting.
This can all be risky too, however, and if you’re not a seasoned DIY-er, you should probably just hire one of those professionals. There is a lot of special equipment involved.
Cold weather means counteracting other elements, too.
Water temperature isn’t always a big concern. But as the seasons change, so too must your water for mixing that concrete. You need to use hot water for your mix. Your concrete’s manufacturer likely has the best instructions for this process. They might even suggest adding more of the concrete itself into the mix, as well.
Finally, what about accelerates?
Accelerates do exactly what they’re named for: they speed up the hydration process and, in turn, speed up the setting process. There are two kinds: calcium chloride and non-chloride accelerators. Calcium chloride is mostly popular because it is the cheaper option, but a non-chloride accelerator won’t corrode any steel in the concrete — a major factor to consider when planning your winter concrete project.