Not many people think about the effects of temperature on concrete.
After all, humankind has depended on concrete for building roads, bridges, etc., throughout history. People choose concrete because it’s durable, weather-resistant, and non-combustible. So, is there a valid reason to worry about possible temperature damage on concrete?
The concrete temperature has a more significant impact than you think.
Modern construction can take place in environments with extreme temperatures. Concrete can be exposed to much higher temperatures (e.g., jet engine blasts, steel manufacturing plants) than usual. Also, offshore projects can take you to countries with brutal winters, such as Russia or Mongolia.
You know from physics that any material can expand or contract with the rise or fall of temperature. Concrete is no exception. Severe issues can crop up in concrete structures due to temperature changes.
Let’s look at how temperature can affect your next project.
Why Concrete Temperature During Installation Matters
The temperature affects all stages of concrete installation. Varying temperatures can influence the outcome of your next commercial or residential project. There’s a reason why folks in the construction industry have come up with the terms “hot- and cold-weather concreting.”
When temperatures are high, the water demand, slump loss, and setting rate are all increased. While the concrete will show high strength early, eventually, it will gain less strength in the later stages. There’s also a tendency for plastic shrinkage cracking and drying.
Ultimately, the strength of the concrete will be less than desirable.
On the other hand, if the ambient temperature is too low, you also have problems. This time, the rate of cement hydration slows down to a crawl. It can even completely stop if enough of the pore water freeze, typically at temperatures 25 to 27 degrees Fahrenheit.
Strength development is impaired, and the overall strength of the concrete will decrease. Furthermore, the concrete may crack due to the expansion of water when ice forms.
Effects of Temperature After the Concrete Has Set
After the concrete has set and achieved the sought-after strength, commonly accepted as 28 days, you’re not out of the woods yet. Again, the concrete is subject to thermal expansion or contraction depending on the temperatures in which it’s located.
After a scorching hot summer or a punishingly cold winter, your driveway or parking lot might require repairs.
While concrete has high resistance to heat and fire, it’s not a complete defense. The physical properties of concrete are weakened as the temperature increases. These include compressive and tensile strength, as well as the elastic modulus.
On the other end of the spectrum, low temperatures can lead to shrinkage of the concrete. If a section of the concrete is restrained, it can get stressed and crack as it shortens. If the temperature drops to freezing, cracks can also emerge due to ice formation.
Protect Your Concrete From the Ravages of Temperature
As you can see from this article, the concrete temperature and its effects are nothing to scoff at. You can mount an effective defense against temperature damage by doing two things.
First, make sure that concrete installation is done right the first time. Hire professionals who know how to counteract the effects of temperature during mixing and placing.
Second, perform regular inspection and maintenance. Doing this can add years of life to your concrete.
We can help you with those two things! Contact us today.