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Northeast Seasonal Pouring Tips

States Included: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey

Climate Overview:
This region has four very distinct seasons. There are considerable temperature variations between the moderate coastal areas and the higher inland areas, but the limiting factor in all areas are cold temperatures. Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the seasons, with snow falling in the winter and rain in the other seasons. Average annual precipitation ranges from 30 to 50 inches. Spring is typically cool and short, and summers are hot and humid. Summers are cooler in the higher inland mountain regions. Fall can have warm days and cool nights, but freezing temperatures are not an issue in most areas until mid-November. Winters are long, with heavy snowfall and ice in most areas. Most weather approaches from the west, with the occasional coastal "Noreaster" winter storm coming from the south, dropping heavy rain and snow on coastal regions. Weather plays a major role in exterior concrete placement in all seasons in this region.

Winter

Climate (December - March): This region experiences long and cold winters. Snow is prevalent and can be on the ground for most of the season. The ground freezes hard in most areas in the Northeast. Coastal areas can be milder than the inland river valleys and mountains, but not different enough to alter concrete practices. Most residential exterior concrete placement is suspended during the winter, with exterior commercial concrete placement taking place year-round.

Mix Designs: Cold-weather concrete mix designs are mandatory for all exterior concrete placed in this region during the winter. The primary considerations include chemical set accelerators to help the concrete set faster and air-entrainment admixtures to help with freeze-thaw conditions. Air entrainment should be mandatory in all exterior concrete placed in this region. Straight concrete mixes can also be used, as they tend to set faster than hybrid mixes. Using hot water to increase concrete temperature is a common winter practice.

Placement and Curing Practices: Cold-weather concreting practices are mandatory for all exterior concrete placed in this region during the winter. Due to extensive freeze-thaw conditions, this region is prone to spalling and scaling concrete. Proper mix design, placement, and curing are crucial for long-term concrete durability. The primary considerations include blankets for heat retention as well as the possibility of tenting in very cold conditions. Since the ground freezes hard, using ground heaters to thaw the ground may be necessary for winter pours. Curing concrete in these regions usually requires the use of solvent-based curing compounds or cure-and-seal chemicals to avoid freezing. With cold temperatures, time is a factor, so pumping concrete becomes more common. The ready-mix supplier should be consulted far in advance of the concrete placement, since some states have road restrictions that may create a logistical issue in delivering concrete. Proper planning and communication are keys to a successful winter pour.

Special Equipment:

  • Sprayers to apply curing compounds
  • Ground heaters if the ground is frozen prior to the pour
  • Concrete pumps to speed the placement of concrete in cold conditions
  • Curing blankets and non-water-based curing compounds
  • Tenting
  • Proper cold-weather attire for crews pouring and finishing the concrete

Spring

Climate (April – May): Spring is very short in the Northeast. Temperatures are cool and conditions can be wet. The threat of snow and freezing temperatures is usually gone by mid-April, but rain is always a consideration. Variations can be found within the region in the spring, as the coastal regions can be much milder than the higher northern mountains.

Mix Designs: Because the ground will stay cold longer, chemical set accelerators are often used in concrete in the spring to help the concrete set quickly and uniformly.

Placement and Curing Practices: Windy and wet conditions can be common. Plastic sheeting, surface evaporative control agents, and curing compounds should be available on all exterior pours in the spring.

Special Equipment: Plastic sheeting; sprayers to apply curing compounds and surface evaporative control chemicals.

Summer

Climate (June – August): Hot, humid summers are the norm for much of the Northeast. Extreme temperatures are rare. Periodic rain is common, and can occur at any time of the day. Most exterior concrete work takes place during the summer in the high mountain region.

Mix Designs: Dealing with high humidity and warm weather can require the use of admixtures to extend the set time. Hydration stabilizers and water reducers are commonly used to extend the working life of the concrete without affecting performance. Air-entrainment admixtures should be mandatory in all exterior concrete placed in this region.

Placement and Curing Practices: With high humidity and hot temperatures, quick placement is the norm for exterior concrete projects. Surface evaporative control agents should be available on all jobs, whether they are used or not. The use of curing compounds and cure-and-seal chemicals is commonplace for most exterior summer pours. Due to exposure of the hardened concrete to freeze-thaw conditions in winter, it is prone to spalling and scaling. Proper water content and finishing are critical for long-term durability.

Special Equipment: Plastic sheeting to protect concrete from sudden rain showers; sprayers to apply curing compounds and surface evaporative control chemicals.

Fall

Climate (September – November): Fall typically experiences the most stable weather conditions of the year for pouring exterior concrete. The humidity is low, and the days are warm with cool nights. Frost and freezing temperatures can start to become a factor later in the season. Scheduling new exterior concrete work can be difficult, since concrete suppliers and installers are typically busy finishing as much work as possible before winter arrives.

Mix Designs: Hydration stabilizers and water reducers are commonly used to extend the working life of the concrete without affecting performance. Due to extensive freeze-thaw conditions, this region is prone to spalling and scaling concrete. Air-entrainment admixtures should be mandatory in all exterior concrete placed in this region.

Placement and Curing Practices: Surface evaporative control agents should be available on all jobs, whether they are used or not. The use of curing compounds and cure-and-seal chemicals is commonplace for most exterior pours. Proper water content and concrete finishing practices are critical for long-term durability.

Special Equipment: Sprayers to apply surface evaporative control agents and curing compounds; curing blankets; plastic sheeting.

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