How Cold Weather Affects Construction Projects

Pouring concrete? You should wait if it’s cold outside. This will ensure maximum performance.

Winter weather can be tough on anyone working outdoors, including construction crews. It can even impact whole job sites, causing problems and delays.

Here are some of the pitfalls of cold-weather construction.

Freezing Effects

Any construction project that deals with water is affected by freezing weather.
Water contracts as it cools, but at the freezing point, it expands about 9%.

For this reason, extreme cold weather virtually stops the drying time for just about any mixture.

This spells trouble for tasks like:
Pouring concrete — doing this in 40-degree weather can reduce the concrete’s strength by 50%
• Drywall finishing/repair — the drying time virtually stops unless you have some type of heat to get the joint compound to dry
Painting — If it’s 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and will get even colder in the four to eight hours following painting, just don’t tackle this task

Heat Can Help

You can use space heaters and forced air (torpedo) heaters to counteract Mother Nature during active construction jobs.

But you need to take the proper safety precautions.
For instance, don’t leave the heater on overnight, and keep the heater away from flammables

Concerns for Existing Homes

Cold weather decreases humidity and when that happens, contraction, or shrinkage, occurs.
This can affect things in your home like:
• Crown molding (Cracks form and it appears to fall off the wall)
• Wood floors, which can buckle
• Window condensation

The ideal humidity level in a home is 50%, so a great tool to have on hand is a hygrometer to measure relative humidity.


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