Concrete projects undertaken when temperatures fall below 50 degrees require special considerations to ensure the concrete is able to cure properly, with maximum strength. Installing the concrete footings in cold weather is only one task that must be performed to complete the overall project.
- Shovel or backhoe
- 2-by-6-inch form boards
- Double-headed nails
- Wooden stakes
- Measuring tape
- Clear heavy duty polyethylene plastic
- Foil tape
- Razor knife
- Propane space heaters
Excavate the area where the concrete will be poured. The depth of the footings depends upon your area's building codes, but most likely will be below the normal frost line. This can range from a few inches in warmer locales to several feet in extremely cold areas. Remove the excess soil and debris from the area.
Create a framework of 2-by-6-inch form boards around the excavated area, securing the ends of the boards together with double-headed nails. To keep the framework from bowing out when the concrete is poured, stabilize the outside of the boards by inserting wooden stakes at 4-foot intervals and nailing them to the form boards with double-headed nails.
Build a scaffolding system around the area, leaving enough space for the concrete truck to come in. Leave ample space for your tools and propane heaters, which must be at least 3 feet away from the plastic enclosure and any other flammable materials.
Enclose the scaffolding system with clear heavy duty polyethylene plastic, sealing the seams and gaps with foil tape. Make the structure relatively air tight, to prevent sudden bursts of wind from introducing cold air into the structure. Cut a series of 3-inch to 4-inch slits near the top of the scaffolding to provide air ventilation.
Place propane space heaters inside the enclosure to bring the interior temperature up to at least 50 degrees. Leave ample room around the heaters to avoid the risk of fire. Allow the heaters to run inside the scaffolding enclosure for at least three days to bring the ground temperature up to 40 or 50 degrees. Reaching the proper ground temperature is imperative before pouring the concrete, or the strength of the concrete will be compromised.
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