Phillips Contracting

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Notice any issues with the concrete in the image above? That’s correct—it’s showing signs of cracking. While concrete is renowned for its strength and durability in commercial driveways, it remains vulnerable to the elements, especially during winter when temperatures drop. Damaged concrete not only affects the aesthetic appeal but also poses risks to both vehicles and pedestrians. For commercial property owners, any incidents on the damaged concrete can lead to a series of liability claims.

Cold Weather Impact: The Freeze-Thaw Cycle It’s not the cold temperatures themselves that harm the concrete; rather, it’s moisture that proves to be the real culprit. Any form of moisture, be it rain, snow, sleet, or water vapor, infiltrates the pores and cracks of the concrete. When temperatures dip below freezing, the trapped moisture freezes and expands, potentially causing discoloration, cracks, and structural issues.

3 Ways Cold Weather May Harm Your Concrete Snow and ice, if left on the surface, can cause significant damage to your concrete.

  1. Scaling
    Scaling occurs when concrete is exposed to extremely cold temperatures, substantial moisture from snow, and consecutive freeze-thaw cycles for extended periods. It essentially peels off the top layer of concrete in small flakes. Severe scaling can extend to deeper layers, compromising the structural integrity.
  2. Spalling
    Low temperatures and snow, contributing to repetitive freeze-thaw cycles, lead to corrosion and expansion of steel components placed within the concrete during installation. This expansion pressure causes delamination, increasing the risk of spalling and deterioration.
  3. Cracking
    Cracking results from freezing temperatures and inadequate concrete mixtures. Snow accumulation on the concrete surface, if not removed, melts into water, penetrating the pores. Upon refreezing in the freeze-thaw cycle, the water expands as ice within the concrete, exerting pressure and causing extensive cracking without a reliable concrete mixture.
  4. Preventing Cold Weather Concrete Damage
    To guard against concrete damage, proper surface preparation before winter is crucial. Phillips Contracting recommends our high-quality concrete sealing service. Professionally applied sealants act as a barrier against moisture and freezing temperatures, mitigating the effects of the freeze-thaw cycle. Sealants typically require reapplication every 2 to 3 years, though annual resealing is an option for added precaution.
  5. Preventing Snowfall Damage
    In addition to professional sealing, prompt snow removal is essential. Shoveling or using a snowplow is recommended, but avoid using metal tools to chip away at frozen patches, as this could lead to concrete cracking. Keeping snow and slush off the concrete surface reduces the risk of damage. Refrain from using rock salt, as it reacts unfavorably with the calcium hydroxide in concrete, causing premature cracking. Opt for alternative de-icing materials such as magnesium chloride, kitty litter, coffee grounds, or alfalfa meal.

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