Curing Concrete In The Cold
Placing concrete in cold weather is not impossible. Typically in the cold, the biggest concern is with excessive moisture, which can cause bleeding water to surface. Once this occurs, the finish of the concrete will have compromised strength and will likely suffer from freeze-thaw damage. If bleed water is evident, it should be skimmed off with a rope or hose prior to troweling.
Another thing to keep in mind is the temperature of the water used in the mix. Water should be added to the dry ingredients at a consistent temperature and only in sufficient quantity to ensure hydration and reasonable workability. Low slump concrete is not only stronger than concrete with a high water content, it’s less prone to bleeding. Heated water can be used during mixing to help raise initial temperatures until insulation can be applied.
Anything that the newly placed concrete will come into contact with should also be above 35 degrees, Fahrenheit and it should never be placed onto frozen ground. Curing concrete should be insulated, protected, and heated for anywhere from one to six days, depending on exposure to the weather. The internal temperature of the concrete should be kept at about 50 degrees, Fahrenheit. Insulating blankets or other thermal protection can be used to maintain appropriate temperature. Heated enclosures can be used to keep out snow and wind; however, they are often expensive. Heat should be slowly removed after the initial cure to gradually cool the concrete and help prevent thermal shock. Once all of that is done, the concrete is ready to face the cold!