Effects of cold weather on concrete

The winter chill tends to set in from November to February in the northern parts of India. The capital, Delhi witnessed a plunge in temperature from the start of December and as you move further north, temperatures tend to nosedive – with cities like Srinagar, Shimla, and Manali being covered in layers of snow. In such extreme weather conditions, building a new house or undertaking a construction project, can prove to be a major challenge.

Concrete is undoubtedly the most important element for building, however, it cannot be used in freezing temperatures. So, if the temperatures average around 4°C for three consecutive days or if the temperature is lower than 10°C for less than half of any of the three days, then the concrete will have a tough time hardening.

When water is mixed with cement, the chemical reaction triggers a crystallization process. The rate at which this process progresses depends on the temperature of the concrete – if it’s hot outside the reaction proceeds quickly and if the ambient temperatures are cold, then the pace at which the reaction occurs is slow. Moreover, during crystallization, the more the crystals proliferate, the stronger the concrete becomes. If temperatures slide below 14-15°C, while the concrete is fresh, then the formation process of the crystals is slow. If the temperatures rise above 15°C then the formation quickens.

Apart from increasing the setting time for concrete, cold weather can also reduce up to 50% of the original strength of the concrete. As a result, the concrete will be less durable and easily susceptible to future weather disturbances.

The following measures can be incorporated to protect concrete against cold weathering:-

  • Use less water in the concrete mix.
  • Cover freshly dug up earth with insulated blankets to preserve the warmth in the ground.
  • Always use air-entrained concrete
  • Pour concrete as early as possible after mixing to avoid heat loss.

Besides incorporating these tips, it is also advisable to use brands like Emami Double Bull cement, the best cement brand in India. Our cement consists of high-performance concrete that can brave any storm.

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