Winter Damaged Concrete? Now What?

by TRP Ready Mix on April 20, 2022

Home with a concrete driveway surrounded by snow pictured at night

Tips For Dealing With The Winter Menace

Did you know that Canadians experience some of the most diverse weather conditions, with winter seasons being extreme? Well, one thing to worry about in the winter is the potential damage freezing can have to your concrete surfaces.

As you try to protect your property from the winter, remember your outdoor structures. Winterizing maintenance on your concrete lawn decor, patios and sidewalks will keep them attractive and sturdy. You won’t have to worry about ice and snow thawing on your concrete surfaces.

Though concrete ranks among construction materials with high durability, concrete surfaces respond badly to freezing temperatures. Damaged concrete will take in moisture, making it susceptible in cold seasons.

Luckily, you still have time to stop winter damage on your concrete surfaces with the help of this guide.

Understanding Winter Damage: Dangers of Damaged Concrete

Winter damage on concrete surfaces takes the form of scaling, spalling and cracking. Understanding winter damage will help you decide on the best maintenance strategies.

You’re likely to spot scaling on your exterior concrete slabs. When it occurs, the top concrete layer fails and starts peeling off. Scaling can expose the surfaces underneath and cause further damage.

Spalling is a type of winter damage that targets the surface of the concrete and digs deep into the slab. It exposes the coarse aggregate of the concrete surface. Failing to fix damaged concrete and poor mixing ratios may cause this type of damage.

With cracking, you’ll see cuts in the slab caused by downpours or moisture penetration. Concrete is prone to cracking when it expands and contracts in freezing temperatures. If you fail to repair the cracks, they may lead to severe structural damage.

What to Consider When Preventing Winter Damage

Factors like the concrete mix design determine the durability of your concrete surfaces. You also have to consider the slump of the concrete when it’s being made and the subbase. If the concrete wasn’t worked properly in the finishing process, it’ll be more prone to damage.

The curing process and weight of concrete applied to the subbase will also determine whether the surface can develop cracks. Ensure the base can handle the job during construction. The concrete should also develop a pressure of over 500 psi when pouring in winter weather.

How to Protect Concrete from Winter Weather

With various maintenance steps, you can keep your concrete surfaces free of scales or cracks in the cold weather. These simple procedures help you save on costly repairs and modifications. Here’s a breakdown of the steps:

Clean the Concrete Slabs

Regular cleaning can help remove damaging elements on your concrete slabs. Use a power washer to remove any debris buildup on outdoor concrete surfaces. This is especially true for surfaces exposed to vehicle traffic and debris. Avoid holding the power washer spray in one area for a long since the pressure may dislodge pavement stones or break the cement.

You can also clean the surfaces by sweeping or soaking them with an asphalt cleaner. If you’re using a cleaner, let it sit for up to 15 minutes before rinsing it off with a garden hose. Put on safety gloves and glasses to protect yourself from debris and harsh chemicals.

Patch Up Any Cracks in the Surfaces

Check whether any concrete slabs around your property are showing signs of damage. Patch and repair any cracks you spot on concrete surfaces. This preventive measure will help stop the cracks from spreading to other surrounding surfaces.

Use a flexible sealant when patching up and repairing damaged concrete for a watertight bond. The sealant should visually blend in with the concrete surface to improve its resistance in flip-flopping weather.

As the sealant dries, it will add flexibility to the slab and make it difficult for the surrounding sides to develop cracks. Even when the weather gets warm and concrete expands, the sealant can respond to the movement and keep the surface in place.

Consult a concrete repair professional if your concrete slab has many large cracks. The expert will help stabilize the slab before carrying out any specialized repairs.

Consider Air Entrainment

Air entrainment is a winter damage prevention measure that protects concrete surfaces from winter damage. An air-entrained concrete slab contains sit pockets that give room to water when it expands in freezing temperatures. The air pockets relieve the internal pressure generated by the expansion to prevent damage.

You need specialized knowledge of air entrainment to carry out the procedure on your own. Consult a ready-mix expert to help air-entrain your concrete slabs to keep them sturdy and durable during winter.

Don’t Pour Salt on Concrete

Though salt doesn’t react with concrete chemically, it draws moisture to the concrete surface. The corrosion brought by the salt can put the concrete surface at risk of cracking or flaking.

Instead of stopping freezing and thawing, salt increases the level of pressure on the concrete pores. Sweep off any salt crystals lying on your concrete surfaces before the onset of the cold season.

Add Additives to the Concrete Surfaces

Placing additives on your concrete slabs can help reduce the effects of winter damage. However, you need the right knowledge and tools to properly use these additives.

If you have a decorative concrete structure, use additives with iron oxide pigments instead of carbon black pigments. That’s because carbon black pigments react with decorative elements on concrete surfaces.

You can also add a fibre reinforcement on the slabs to prevent them from developing cracks in freezing temperatures. The fibre reinforcement will hold together the slab even when it expands and contracts in the cold. It will also counter the pressure generated when concrete expands and contracts.

Water retarders, accelerators and water reducers can help improve the sturdiness of concrete surfaces. Count on expert help when you want to add these additives to your concrete surfaces.

Need More Help with Winter Damaged Concrete?

Concrete maintenance can help keep your slabs free of damaging elements as well as wear and tear. The practices discussed in this guide will also extend your concrete’s lifespan.

Count on TRP Ready Mix for durable solutions for winter-damaged concrete. We offer high-quality readily mixed concrete for your construction activities at competitive prices. Get your detailed quote from us today.