How to protect your slab from the cold?

slab foundation

Slab leak foundation in the cold

The slab foundation of your home keeps it above the ground and so much more. It keeps your house warm, moisture out, and keeps your house from moving with the ground (well somewhat). 

A good foundation is made of steel-reinforced concrete that for most homes, is poured over the plumbing pipes. With slab foundation explained, this is where plumbing leak detection comes into our conversation today, along with winterizing your slab foundation or slab foundation with piers. 

If concrete is one of the strongest materials around, how does cold weather affect concrete? Yes, concrete is strong, but it can also be fooled with the temperature. Many contractors will tell you that you cannot pour concrete in cold weather, and that is at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. Why? 

Concrete transmutes from a semiliquid to the solid material you’re familiar with due to hydration, a chemical reaction.  This means that when water and cement power are mixed together, a chemical reaction creates a process of  crystallization. Depending on the concrete’s temperature, it could process fast or slow, and the hotter the concrete thing it is, the faster it processes. 

A cold temperature slows the process down and the crystals continue to grow after the concrete is pour for months. This is called “curing” and the more it cures, the strong the concrete will be.  If the temperature gets colder than 14 degrees during the early stage of new concrete, those crystals quit growing, but they will start u again when the temperature warms. 

So, if your concrete foundation is poured when the temperature is cold, it won’t be able to withstand the pressure of a house. Furthermore, the plumbing that is laid before the found is poured is in jeopardy of leaking, and before you know it, your slab foundation is cracked and you’ve got a plumber with plumbing leak detection equipment in your yard. 

Will concrete crack in cold weather?

Yes it will and unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about it. Concrete is porous and when there an abundance of ice, rain, or snow, is on the surface, the water from those leaks into the concrete. Then, in the winter especially, the temperatures drops and that moisture inside the concrete freezes, expands the concrete. As the temperature warms up, the ground warms and thaws, and the concrete contracts and that is what causes it to crack. 

How do you fix water seeping under foundation?

Groundwater that is seeping under your foundation is happening because of excessive water in the ground near or next to the foundation wall or the basement. As groundwater pressure builds, that is when it begins to seep through cracks in the foundation. Fortunately, there are some things you can do that can thwart that seepage:

  • Build the yard up near the foundation so that it slopes consistently away.
  • Make Certain that all downspouts and the sump pump flows away from your home toward the yard. 
  • Make sure the basement drains consistently toward the floor drain.
  • Have the foundation wall waterproofed. 

Can you pour concrete footings in cold weather?

Yes, but there are several precautions recommended that you’ll need to coordinate with the contractor pouring the concrete footings: 

  • Do not have the concrete poured when the ground is frozen or covered in ice or snow. 
  • Place insulated blankets over any freshly dug earth to preserve the subsoil with its natural warmth. The blankets can be removed just before the pour starts. 
  • Request the builder use an air-entrained concrete. This is the addition of chemicals to the freshly mixed concrete that will create millions of microscopic air bubbles which will help the concrete dry faster and cure as they act as shock absorbers if the water mixed with the concrete freezes. Instead of the water freezing in the concrete, it will freeze in the air bubbles created. 
  • Request the contractor use a heated mix or have  100 extra pounds of concrete for every cubic yard. Either of these will help the concrete to develop strength earlier in the process. 
  • Confirm the contractor is using a dry mix or a low slump of four inches to minimize bleed water. Because water is the lightest ingredient of this process, as the slab is poured, you’ll see a formation of water beads on the surface. Any trowel usage too soon will weaken the concrete. A low-slump type of concrete will finish quicker and can be covered with insulated blankets sooner. 
home with a slab foundation

Will concrete cure in the cold?

Yes, but there are some special factors that should be followed for a solid cure when the temperatures are at or below freezing. Remember when the air is below or will fall below 40°F, then use cold weather techniques.

  • Pouring concrete in cold weather must be cured. The surface will dry out faster if the concrete is warmer than the surrounding air.
  • Finishing concrete in cold weather still requires waiting for evaporation of the bleed water, allowing the concrete particles to settle and squeeze any extra water. If water is finished into the surface, there is an increase chance of having a weak concrete surface. 
  • Use less water for the concrete to cure in cold weather. More water keeps concrete soaked, making it susceptible to freezing and causing damage. 
  • Using a concrete additive can eliminate or reduce any need to use protection in cold weather. 

Call 817-281-5325 today for your slab foundation repair in Fort Worth, TX!