Concrete Care for Winter
We are well into fall and the weather is getting colder for most of the country. So it’s a good time to start thinking about what outdoor DIY projects to emark on before you start to hibernate for the winter. A few hours of work now could save homeowners hundreds of dollars — or more — in costly concrete repairs come spring.
Freezing rain, ice, snow and deicers, as well as freeze/thaw temperature cycles have the potential to wreak havoc on concrete surfaces if left unchecked. Not only does the saturation and freezing of concrete surfaces accelerate crack expansion and surface deterioration, but the spreading of deicing salts also causes severe damage to the aesthetic and structural integrity of unprotected concrete.
Precautionary measures such as repairing and sealing cracks and damaged concrete surfaces are cost-effective solutions homeowners can do themselves to prevent expensive replacement projects in the future.
Waterproofing sealers offer a reliable, durable finish for a variety of surfaces, including concrete, masonry, stucco and brick. Sealers, such as Quikrete Acrylic Concrete Cure & Seal — Satin Finish, offer a highly water resistant coating that protects the surface from cold weather freeze and thaw cycles.
If properly maintained, concrete can last generations. The repair and maintenance is easy if you know what to look for and use the right products.
What To Look For
Homeowners can use the following check list and do a walk around their homes — if any of these trouble spots are found, it’s time to make repairs.
Cracks And Missing Concrete
Typically found in driveways, car ports and exterior walk ways. Cracks that appear small can grow in size with continued exposure to water and temperature changes over time.
Occurs when the freeze/thaw cycles cause the water that has saturated the concrete to freeze and expand — eventually eroding away the surface layer of the concrete. Deicing agents create more freeze/thaw cycles for unprotected concrete to endure, causing further erosion. Damage to the concrete’s aesthetic and structural integrity is more likely to appear the longer spalling is neglected, increasing the likelihood of a more expensive repair.
Visible water leaks on masonry or concrete walls are an indication water is likely seeping from the outside. If left unchecked, leaking water can also cause extensive — and costly — damage to interior surfaces.
Depending on the size of a repair, companies such as Quikrete offer products that are specially designed to fix particular structural and cosmetic issues with concrete.
How It’s Done
Careful preparation of the concrete surface is essential for positive end results. Use a broom and sweep the entire area to remove all dust and debris. The surface and cracks must be clean, dry and free of grease, dust or loose concrete prior to any repairs.
Clean the surface with a concrete and asphalt cleaner and then rinse with clean water. Do not leave any standing water on the surface to be repaired.
For minor horizontal cracks or fractures (1/8 inch to 1/2 inch in width), use a flexible concrete crack sealant. Cut the tip of the bottle so the opening matches the width of the crack. If the crack is deep, fill to within 1/4 inch of the surface with a fine sand.
Squeeze the repair material into the crack in 1/4-inch layers, over-filling slightly to allow for shrinkage. Additional layers can be applied after 24 hours as needed.
A polymer-modified concrete patching product is best for thin repairs to cracking and spalling concrete areas up to a few square feet in size and 1/2 inch in depth. The special vinyl resins improve bonding characteristics that help the repair bond to the damaged concrete and creates a dense water-resistant surface that helps counteract the freezing and expansion of water in the concrete.
Prior to applying the patching product, dampen the repair area with water — enough water should be used to saturate the surface, but any standing water should be removed (applying repair materials to a dry surface will weaken the bond and can cause shrinkage cracking). The product should be built up in layers using a margin trowel — the first layer should be pressed into the repair area using firm trowel pressure. Feather edge the mix out onto the surrounding concrete to create a smooth repair. Apply the patching material in 1/4-inch layers. If the hole is deeper than 1/4 inch, apply in stages and allow each layer to cure for several days before starting the next.
If water is seeping through small cracks in basement walls, begin by clearing any loose debris from around the crack. The active leak can then be plugged with a fast-setting hydraulic cement material.
To protect concrete surfaces from cold weather freeze and thaw cycles — a common cause of surface cracking and spalling over time — use a water resistant concrete sealer to protect the surface. First, clean the surface to be coated with a concrete and asphalt cleaner, then use a roller or garden sprayer to apply the sealer. One gallon should coat 150 to 250 square feet.
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