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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pouring Concrete During Cold Weather for Log Cabins




Pouring Concrete During Cold Weather for Log Cabins

By: Log Home Builders Association

Sometimes, out of necessity or eagerness, you may start working on the foundation of
your log home in the middle of winter. Pouring concrete during cold weather can be a
little tricky, because pouring concrete in freezing temperatures can cause serious
problems. If you really want to pour concrete in winter there are some easy precautions
you can take in order to help ensure that you’ll end up with a rock solid foundation.

First off, let’s talk about what can happen if you pour concrete in cold weather without
taking any precautions. Concrete cures through a chemical process that both creates and
requires heat. If it cools too rapidly, due to cold weather, it can be seriously weakened
(not desirable). You can also end up with fractures in your foundation caused by water
freezing within the concrete, or can have spalling problems.

Generally the kind of cold weather that can negatively impact freshly poured concrete is
3 consecutive days of 40 F or below (average temp). Even if the temp is bouncing
between the 40’s and 50’s you might still have problems. Effective communication with
your concrete supplier, and checking your local weather report, should give you the
definitive answer as to whether or not you’ll need to take extra precautions against cold
weather at the time of your pour.

If you do end up needing to pour concrete in cold weather, then there are several different
precautions you may want to take:
1) There are ‘anti-freeze like’ admixtures that can be effective at stopping the water
within concrete from freezing. Such an admixture will extend the temperature range in
which concrete can effectively cure.
2) Air-entrainment admixtures also help concrete deal with low temperatures by trapping
tiny air bubbles within the mix, which in theory gives the freezing water someplace to
gather without damaging your foundation.
3) A load of concrete can also be heated prior to leaving the yard. Starting out at a
higher temp means it’ll stay warmer longer and can resist the cooling action of the cold
weather long enough to form a good, solid set.
4) You can also request a mix of concrete that has extra cement added to it. That can
help the mix quickly develop the strength needed to handle freezing temperatures.
5) Order a ‘drier’ mix of concrete. Since there will be less moisture within the mix that
can freeze, the freezing effects of the temperatures will have less of an effect.
6) Use insulating blankets or insulated boxes to cover your foundation or pier blocks.
This will help trap in the heat of the concrete preventing it from cooling too quickly. You
can also use a ‘heated box’ of some sort if the weather is really cold.

When pouring in cold weather your concrete supplier will likely recommend one or more
of the above precautions. Pay attention to what the supplier recommends, because after
all they are the one who will be most familiar with what works best in your area – at the
time of year your doing your pour.

While waiting for spring or summer may make the construction process easier, working
on your foundation in winter is sometimes possible provided you take appropriate steps.
Be sure to talk with your concrete supplier about what precautions to take.

For additional information you can check out the following resources:
http://www.askthebuilder.com/104_Cold_Weather_Concrete_Installation.shtml
http://www.pathnet.org/sp.asp?id=14138
http://www.bobvila.com/BVTV/HomeAgain/Video-0815-03-0.html
http://www.flboa.com/pdf/jan-06/Cold-Weather-Concrete.pdf
See this and more articles at http://www.avalonloghomes.com/log-homes-information-news-technology

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