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Working With Concrete In Hot Weather

As if working with concrete didn't have enough potential pitfalls already, one must always be sure to factor for the weather conditions during installation. This is especially true when temperatures are running high in the summertime. If you have an upcoming concrete installation project and would like to learn more about dealing with elevated temperatures, read on. This article will outline three helpful pieces of advice for working with concrete in the heat.

Be prepared to account for evaporation.

Perhaps the single most important thing when mixing up a batch of fresh concrete is getting the ratio of cement to water just right. This becomes much more difficult during periods of hot, sunny weather, thanks to the complicating influence of unintended evaporation. This tends to result in concrete that is much stiffer than meant to be—a problem officially known by the name of slump loss.

In order to keep slump loss from having adverse effects on the workability and long-term strength of your concrete, you will need to add extra water. But simply adding water alone can lead to problems, since it upsets the ratio of water to cement. For that reason, when it comes to diluting stiffened concrete, it is important to add both more water and other additives to prevent issues, thus maintaining the original proportions.

Store aggregate in the shade.

Water and cement are the ingredients that act together to help give concrete its stiffness and strength, yet it is aggregate that makes up the bulk of the concrete's weight. This aggregate—usually crushed gravel—is added just prior to mixing up the concrete. In other words, it is generally stored at the construction site. This fact can lead to unintended consequences when temperatures are high.

You see, if the aggregate is directly exposed to sunlight, it will become super heated. This will only exacerbate slump loss issues when it is added to the water and cement. To avoid this problem, it is a good idea to store the aggregate out of direct sunlight to help keeps its temperature down. Likewise, it can help to spray down the aggregate periodically to help cool it off. Just be sure that the aggregate you're adding to your concrete mixture is completely dry.

Keep the concrete covered while it cures.

Evaporation continues to pose problems for concrete even after it has been poured, spread, and screeded. In fact, arguably, concrete is at its most vulnerable while it cures. That's because too much surface evaporation will lead to the development of unwanted cracks. Fortunately, you can keep this from happening by covering the curing concrete. Straw, burlap, and sand are three economical ways to protect the concrete from direct exposure to the sun. 

For more information, contact local professionals like Mershon Concrete.