It was a rough weekend, the crew went to a mobile home park where we've done jobs over the years, fantastic people and unforgettable hosts while we were pouring concrete. We were over at Harbor Cove and there is still a mess there, although it's coming along. These are properties that folks worked very hard for. The residents there mean a lot to me. I used to love hanging out after a job and listening to great stories about adversity that was overcome, love stories from happily married couples of 50+ years, and of course all the antics of their pets. We were not ready for what we saw Saturday past. We got a lot of calls last winter, and we made several to check in on friends at the time of the storm, but I admit we didn't keep on top of how people are doing since. Many still need help with debris and cleanup, especially the seniors. If you are a Harbor Cove resident and you need concrete repair, call us or send a text to 941-200-1917. I saw a lot of driveways damaged by tree roots and a lot of wash out culverts to name a few of the damages lingering. I guess folks had to prioritize. Fences are down and not back up. I even saw some makeshift roofs in place. I think the insurance is taking their sweet time with claims. Let us help you with getting things cleaned up and doing excavations, and surface preparations so your property can be put back together again. In October it will be a year and there is no reason anyone should have to wait that long. North Port Concrete is here for you.
It's rare here in North Port, but there are areas in Florida where the temperatures overnight can cause problems for concrete curing. And a different problem entirely of course is when it's too hot and humid, something we all know too much about! Professionals have access to adjuvants also called an admixture. This is now common in concrete and getting more and more interesting as companies develop products we can add to concrete to allow for a wide range of weather and temperature situations. As concrete cures it goes through changes called stabilization and settting. Turns out you can modify that behaviour with additives. You see, concrete contractors need to stay up to date with a changing industry. In my experience, the low temps are a problem really only when there are 3 consecutive days of temperature drops below 40 F. It is a good idea to ask your concreter what kind of admixture he's using and why.
What happens to concrete when temperatures fall is interesting and unless you have experience, you wont understand how to overcome this problem. During stabilization concrete "gives off heat". This means as concrete cures it warms up and this keeps a very even amount of water in the mix. When it's cold, the reaction still happens but of course much slower because a lot of heat is lost to the colder air and ground. What does this mean? Most of the time if your concrete is taking a little longer to cure, its due to cold temps at night. Mind you, up north where I worked for 6 years in New Jersey, it gets cold enough in January that you cannot pour concrete at all because it literally doesn't cure at all and turns into a flaky mess. But here in North Port, this is not usually a concern.
I like to tell people how the weather can cause delays to their projects even when the project looks done. It's important not to get too impatient and try to use your new concrete surface before it's ready for weight and movement.
When it's too warm, that same nice warming reaction is happening with the mix, but now the water is leaving the mix too fast due to evaporation. I honestly usually only see this when its also very dry and windy. If the humidex is high this is manageable.
Concrete is durable, pouring in cold weather reduces the overall lifetime of the concrete. In order to keep your concrete safe from cold temp damage, you’ll want to add admixtures that will help speed up the curing process on any area that is exposed to cold weather. You can even sometimes spray this on a surface after leveling.
All admixtures I've even seen only come in liquid forms. Many come in small pre-measured containers that make completing your concrete project a snap.
I am familiar with 3 different types of admixes for cold weather concrete install:
Accelerators: speed up curing time by increasing its rate of hydration. Calcium chloride admixtures or sodium nitroprusside. An accelerant for your concrete will depend on many factors. Accelerators reduce the curing time which results in a very even set concrete. This is the strongest form of concrete you can get in any temperature.
Plasticizers reduce the amount of liquid that cement needs which makes the concrete easier to work with. The reduction in weight and increased working time allows a projcet to finish cleaner. Plasticizers effect only lasts about 65 minutes so careful planning is a must.
Air agents prevent cracking and damage from freeze expansion. Think of this like foam in the beer. These bubbles relieve the pressure created by cold temperatures, This additive is a must for any concrete project in areas that are prone to freezing. This concrete is not as strong due to the porous structure, but is almost necessary when setting concrete in areas prone to freeze/thaw cycles.
My favorite old school method needs to be said. Add heated water to mix your concrete. If you can get water at 70 degrees or higher it will result in the ideal conditions ensuring a durable material for its lifetime.
Well I just said it, bluntly too. There aren't many of us left. The new kids don't understand concrete and aren't interested. A lot of the guys I came up with are retiring. I haven't got a clue what people are going to do in 10 years when there is no one left who can work on concrete. I can't always find good help and when I do, they are older guys like me. Most people who work with concrete will tell you what a pleasure it is to work with. I think young guys are turned off cement flatwork because its messy and labor intensive. But we make a good living and we are in great shape. Working as a concrete contractor for 35 years has kept me fit like a young man, just ask my wife! I think another thing that turns off the new guys is the business side. Quoting jobs, maintaining tools and equipment, finding good concrete suppliers - that is all hard work and takes away from the tradecraft. Meeting homeowners in the city where I grew up is still fun to me. I get calls from old friends who need help, I get referrals and I meet lots of new people who need concrete work, who are now finding my on the internet. I am thinking out loud here, but maybe this is not a trade at all, maybe it's a craft, and you don't usually see training for craftsmanship, it is always passed down to an apprentice. No matter where you live, find a concrete contractor and strike up a conversation. You will learn something, you will make a new friend and you might even find a new job. I'd love to teach the business to a new guy and pass on the skills and techniques to the right crew.