For construction workers, cooler weather might be a pleasant relief after long, sweltering summer days. But colder weather presents a special set of difficulties for construction sites.
The effects of winter weather on building necessitate innovative approaches and strong cooperation. To keep projects rolling, contractors must plan around low temperatures and snow, which can result in frozen subgrade, adhesives, and hazardous conditions.
Nevertheless, there’s no need to avoid building throughout the winter. Your crew should have years of expertise overcoming these typical winter obstacles in addition to tried-and-true remedies that lessen their negative effects on the project’s budget and schedule.
Foundations, Grading and Frozen Soil
It may be challenging for workers to adequately compact the ground due to this subterranean dampness. As the water pockets in the subgrade freeze, they expand and shift the surrounding ground. The ice will thaw when the ground warms, leaving behind pockets of void. The ground and structures above are disturbed and moved when the soil settles to fill in those pockets.
Although foundation grading and digging can still be done by contractors in the winter, you can expect it to take longer than in the summer. Make sure your timetable has enough leeway to account for delays caused by snow or other severe inclement weather. Finding a skilled team with the tools and expertise to compact the earth properly is also essential if you want to prevent shifting and other long-term issues.
The best defense against subgrade ice, aside from warmer weather, is dealing with a dependable and skilled site contractor or excavator.
The Cold Can Be Tough On Concrete
Because of its strength and durability, concrete is a common building material. But, low temperatures during its pour could prove to be problematic.
Cold weather delays the drying process, which affects how strong the concrete will be. According to the American Concrete Institute, freshly poured concrete exposed to temperatures of 40 degrees within the first 24 hours may lose nearly half its strength. Additionally, if it freezes before drying, the concrete may need to be ripped out and re-poured.
Contractors can use concrete blankets, which reduce heat loss and delay drying, to assist combat the effects of cold weather. Ground-thawing equipment and the addition of anti-freezing concrete additives to the concrete can also aid battle low temperatures.
Glues and Gap Sealers Are Not As Effective
Mortar, grout, and adhesives will all be affected by cooler temps. Small ice crystals can entirely alter the chemical makeup of these materials as the water in these components freezes. This could result in unsecured components and reduce their capacity to bond.
Before applying the bonding chemical, contractors in some situations will heat the brick, tile, or other building material. Additionally, they can cover the finished area as it dries, trapping the necessary heat to make a stronger connection. Some adhesives on the market have polymers added that lower their freezing points, and there are other adhesives made with quicker curing times. These can be options to assist you stay warm depending on your project.
Contractors can utilize temporary heaters to keep the installation area warm enough for the adhesives to set if work is being done inside of a closed building. In order for the construction materials to warm up before work starts, they should also be kept in a heated space. To allow for optimal setting, the implanted materials’ surfaces should stay above 50 degrees for a few days.
Cold Temperatures Affect Drywall Finishing
Warmer temperatures and the right humidity are needed to finish drywall so that materials like drywall joint compound/mud and paint may cure properly. Your crew runs the risk of problems including gaps, cracked drywall mud, improperly bonded boards, and uneven paint color if the work is done in a dry atmosphere and at temps below 50 to 55 degrees. These problems might reduce the longevity of the walls in addition to not appearing excellent.
Fortunately, drywall finishing takes place inside a structure, making it simple to regulate temperatures throughout the year.
Portable heaters will help improve the environment for the mud, paint, and the employees applying it, even if the building’s heating system isn’t working. Until the material is set and dry, the group must maintain these warmer conditions (about 50–55 degrees).
Winter Conditions Slow Progress
Fighting the cold is one thing, but dealing with snow and ice has its own difficulties. If not adequately managed, slippery surfaces might result in dangerous working situations.
The team can apply salt and other de-icing chemicals ahead of bad weather to keep the area safe for foot and car traffic. The crew will clean the area as soon as the snow starts to fall so that work may restart as soon as feasible. Other times, it can be necessary to put off some activities until the snow melts.
This is crucial for tasks performed on scaffolds and roofs, which are located high above the earth. It’s ideal for workers to undertake duties elsewhere until the snow and ice has gone, even with suitable fall protection.
In general, delaying high-risk tasks for a few hours or days until conditions are safer shouldn’t have a significant effect on the timeline of a well-planned project. Small weather-related delays might even be planned for right now.
Smart Scheduling Improves Winter Productivity
Construction doesn’t have to stop when the weather turns chilly. Your contractor may schedule your project’s milestones around the seasons with the correct strategy and experience in order to achieve a well-designed, on-time, and within-budget project. The result will be a more effective timetable, less delays, and better outcomes since they will be able to fill the colder months with other essential work that can be finished regardless of temperature.
Image Contracting is a local, family owned business that is trusted in the industry and known for providing unsurpassed levels of quality, value and satisfaction on every job we work on. We are a General Contractor and Construction company that takes pleasure in providing the highest quality service.