In winter, outdoor concrete is subjected to a cycle of freezing and thawing that can have long-term consequences on its integrity. By understanding this in advance, you can mitigate the damage and keep your projects looking their best all year round.
How the Freeze-Thaw Cycle Damages Concrete
The main reason for winter concrete damage is what’s known as the freeze-thaw cycle. As snow falls and melts, it seeps into tiny pores and cracks that were already there due to normal wear and tear. Then, when the temperature dips again, the water refreezes.
Since water molecules expand when they freeze, the new ice pushes out against the surface. This exerts enough pressure to push sections of concrete apart. The process gets worse as time passes.
The freeze-thaw cycle can cause entire sections of the concrete surface to fall apart. This damage causes concrete to flake away and become weak on a structural level. Touching or stepping on the wrong area could potentially cause a large chunk to break off.
How To Protect Your Projects During Winter Months
What looks like a small crack now can cause a large amount of damage before you know it. Shoveling snow and ice off your driveway or other concrete surfaces before it melts is crucial during the winter months. The less snow that melts into the concrete, the less damage that will occur.
Your main priority for protecting concrete in the winter is to treat any small cracks with a sealant, available at most hardware stores. Sealants are designed to create a waterproof bond that locks out moisture and keeps the integrity of the concrete.
Other Things You Can Do To Protect Your Concrete
While it’s a commonly-held belief, pouring salt on concrete doesn’t help keep it dry, and it can actually make things worse. Salt attracts moisture, so if you need to make an icy concrete driveway less slippery, use gravel or sand.
Above all else, know your limits. If the damage is too extensive to fix on your own, it’s time to call in the experts. G-CAT Construction has helped protect hundreds of concrete surfaces from winter wear and tear. Contact us today for more information.
Phone: (630) 736-1070
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2500 W Higgins Road, Suite 365
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169