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November 10, 2009

Don’t Put Your Construction on Ice During Winter

Filed under: Tips — Tags: , , , , — Sunrooms by Brady @ 10:32 am

There is a common misconception that it is not safe or it is too expensive to dig and pour concrete foundations in the winter time. This belief, though probably true at one time, is no longer valid. Particularly when adding onto an existing heated structure.

During the winter in cold climates, the moisture in the ground freezes to depths that vary with average outdoor temperature, moisture content of the soil, ground cover and proximity to a heated structure. Well drained soils freeze less solidly than soils that don’t drain well such as clays. When the ground is covered with snow, the snow acts as an insulator, limiting the depth to which the ground freezes. If the soil is close to a heated structure, the heat loss from the building helps prevent or at least limit the depth of freezing in the surrounding soils. What does all of this mean? Even the deepest frosts are no match for modern excavating equipment. But even hand digging is often not difficult if digging is started next to the heated building. Working ones way away from the building and undermining the frozen surface usually makes excavation quite easy. If it is known that a certain area will need to be excavated after the frost has set, spreading hay over the area will help to reduce the depth of the frost. Though excavating in the winter can be slightly more trouble than doing so in summer, most contractors are very anxious to secure winter work, so the price is often no more than summer prices and frequently less.

The most frequently expressed concern about pouring foundations in the winter is that the “concrete will freeze”. This is possible, but is very easily avoided. The very nature of concrete helps. Many people think that concrete simply dries after it is poured into the form. In fact, when water is added it begins an exothermic curing process. Exothermic means the concrete actually creates heat while it cures. A chemical can be added to the concrete to help it release more heat and cure faster. This is called an ad-mixture. The most commonly used is a salt called calcium chloride. In particularly cold weather warm water is used in the mix to further assure that the concrete doesn’t freeze before it is cured. Once the concrete reaches it’s initial set (varies, but usually less than 24 hours), the risk of damage due to freezing is small. One added step that contractors will take in very cold weather is to protect the newly poured concrete with insulating blankets or hay. This insulating layer helps retain the warmth generated by the curing concrete.

So when you decide to build an addition, add on a sunroom or conservatory, don’t let cold weather delay your plans.

1 Comment »

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bingham Lumber, CJM Builders. CJM Builders said: Found this article on Winter Construction to be helpful: http://bit.ly/6oBUMs […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Sunrooms By Brady » Don’t Put Your Construction on Ice During Winter -- Topsy.com — December 14, 2009 @ 1:49 pm

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