8 Tips for Pouring Concrete in Cold Weather

Eastman Cooke Team

As winter winds down here in the Northeast, our team has worked hard to keep projects on track through some brutally cold weather. One aspect of the construction process that is complicated by lower temperatures is pouring concrete. Ideally, the air should be at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but when temperatures drop, there are a few different options for ensuring a successful concrete pour. Here are 8 tips from Project Superintendents Ray Ruggiano and Art Schumann:

  •  Monitor the weather with 10- or 15-day forecasts to help coordinate the subcontractors needed (and not needed) that day.
  •  Obtain all required submittals, including mix, design, any needed additives, etc.
  •  Plan a good location for washing out trucks, to avoid tracking mud out of the site.
  •  Make sure you have adequate light, as concrete takes longer to set in colder temperatures and daylight is usually gone by the time finishing is complete. Make arrangements for your laborers or electrician to assist with lighting.
  •  Once you have poured the concrete, cover slab with insulated blankets.  Because of the chemical reaction that takes place during curing, fresh concrete emits heat, and blankets will help retain this heat and aid in the process. Hot water can also be added to improve heat retention.
  •  Consider adding a chemical accelerator to speed the setting process before cold weather gets in the way.
  •  Use tarps to tent the area being poured, and place space heaters in the tented area increase temperatures and retain heat.
  •  Use a laser thermometer to monitor the temperature of the metal deck or sub-grade being poured.  Keep surface temperatures above freezing.

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