Eiffel 101: 5 Tips for Concrete Pours in the Summer
Summer concrete pours can be challenging because extreme heat and humidity can dramatically affect finished, dried concrete products. Oftentimes, concrete that’s poured when it’s too hot outside can dry too quickly or dry unevenly, both of which cause issues and impact quality. Some extra planning around the heat can save you a lot of trouble when it comes to concrete pours. Below are five tips to help your concrete project beat the heat:
1. Avoid afternoon pours.
It’s best to pour concrete in the morning, evening, or even at night, if possible. You should always forgo pouring concrete during the hottest part of the day. Excessive heat and humidity can negatively affect how quickly it sets and its overall strength when set. Oftentimes, in the blistering heat, the top layer of concrete will dry faster than the rest of the concrete. This increases the likelihood of both cracking and shrinking. It also may increase the likelihood of the formation of cold joints.
Formwork, particularly steel and aluminum formwork, can heat up to blistering temperatures rapidly during the hottest part of the day. And when formwork is too hot, it can absorb moisture from concrete and cause cracks and other issues as it sets. This is another reason that it’s your best bet to pour during times of day when temperatures are cooler.
2. Store formwork and other materials in the shade.
When formwork is not in use, it should be stored in covered/shaded areas. This will help you avoid any issues with warping or heat-related damage and help you ensure that they aren’t excessively hot when you do use them.
3. Don’t overlook aggregates.
Aggregates including gravel, sand, and stone help give concrete extra strength when they enter into the mix. If you’re concerned about concrete shrinking in the summer, adding in some extra aggregates can be a great way to help you avoid this. Make sure you store aggregates in a shaded area, if possible, while you aren’t using them. If aggregates are too hot when you mix them into concrete, they can affect the overall temperature of a pour. You can also cool them down with water right before you use them.
4. Avoid pouring when understaffed.
Vigilance during concrete pours is especially important during the summer. You want workers to be able to monitor concrete during every stage of the pouring process: from when it’s poured to the finishing stage. Avoid leaving concrete unattended, and make sure there are enough staff members dedicated to a pour to see it from start to finish.
5. Mix offsite.
If it’s feasible, you should try not to mix concrete on-site in the summer heat. Mixing it outside while it’s too hot can compromise the integrity of the mix and cause issues once you start pouring and setting. It’s ideal to mix cement at a plant in a mixer (or have it mixed by a third party) and then transport it to a site using a truck or trailer. Plan the arrival of the cement for right before you plan on beginning a pour, so outside temperatures don’t affect it in the truck or trailer.
As the saying goes, an inch of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you take the right preventative measures, such as those listed above, your summer concrete pours are likely to be a success.
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