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How The Freeze-Thaw Cycle Affects Your Concrete

How The Freeze-Thaw Cycle Affects Your Concrete - Image 1

Concrete, a fundamental building material, is renowned for its strength and durability. However, it is not invincible, and one of the factors that can significantly affect its structural integrity is the freeze-thaw cycle. This natural phenomenon, especially prevalent in colder climates, poses unique challenges to concrete structures. In this blog, we will delve into how the freeze-thaw cycle influences concrete and explore the potential consequences on construction projects.

Understanding The Freeze-Thaw Cycle

The freeze-thaw cycle is a repetitive process that occurs when water infiltrates concrete and subsequently freezes and thaws. In cold climates, moisture can seep into the porous structure of concrete during periods of precipitation. When temperatures drop, the water within the concrete freezes, causing it to expand. The expansion exerts pressure on the concrete, potentially leading to cracking and damage. As temperatures rise again, the ice melts, and the water contracts, further stressing the concrete.

What Causes Freeze-Thaw Damage

Several factors contribute to the extent of freeze-thaw damage on concrete:

  • Porosity: The level of porosity in concrete determines its susceptibility to water penetration. High porosity allows more water to infiltrate, increasing the potential for freeze-thaw damage.
  • Trapped Air: Concrete mixtures often incorporate what is known as air-entraining agents. Air entrainment is the intentional creation of tiny bubbles of air in a batch of concrete by adding these agents during the mixing process. This process helps enhance concrete's resistance to freeze-thaw cycles. The air-entraining agents create microscopic air bubbles that provide space for water to expand without causing significant internal pressure.
  • Quality of Construction Materials: The quality of the materials used in the construction of concrete structures plays a crucial role. Substandard materials may result in a concrete mix that is more vulnerable to freeze-thaw damage.

Effects of Freeze-Thaw Cycle on Concrete

There are several negative effects the freeze-thaw cycle has on your home's concrete:

  • Surface Scaling: Freeze-thaw cycles can lead to surface scaling, where the top layer of concrete begins to flake off. This exposes the underlying structure to further deterioration and can compromise the aesthetic appeal of the surface. 
  • Cracking: The expansion and contraction of water within the concrete can cause cracks to develop. These cracks not only compromise the structural integrity but also provide avenues for water to penetrate deeper, exacerbating the issue. 
  • Reduced Strength: Over time, the cumulative effects of freeze-thaw cycles can result in a reduction in the compressive strength of concrete. This compromises the overall stability and load-bearing capacity of the structure.

Frontier Can Help!

Applying sealants and waterproofing coatings to the surface of concrete structures can help minimize water infiltration, reducing the risk of freeze-thaw damage. At Frontier Foundation & Crawl Space Repair, we have these solutions to repair and protect your concrete from the harmful effects of the freeze-thaw cycle. To repair any cracked concrete caused by the freeze-thaw cycle, we utilize a solution known as NexusPro. This silicone-based sealant can be used to seal cracks, providing flexibility and making the crack capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions.

For protection against the ill effects of the freeze-thaw cycle, we offer two different sealants. Our first sealant is called SealantPro. This sealant blocks out moisture, protecting the concrete in rain, snow, and during those freeze-thaw cycles. This sealant will penetrate the concrete, permanently bonding with it. Our next solution is our DecoShield concrete sealer. This sealant has more of an aesthetically pleasing look than our SealantPro, as it comes in five different colors. DecoShield enhances the concrete's appearance and won't chip or flake over time. 

To protect your concrete against the negative effects of the freeze-thaw cycle, give us a call or fill out our online form! We offer free, no-obligation inspections and estimates. 


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