Cement mixers are an essential part of any construction site, but your knowledge has to go a bit further sometimes than just how to turn one on and the proper ratios for your cement or concrete. This guide will give you all you need to know about essential post-pour care for cement, and will provide you with everything you need to know to make sure your next pour lasts decades.
Remember to always spray down your cement mixers after you use them to prevent residue from building up and drying out, if left for too long this can damage your cement mixers during use. After a big pour it’s also a good idea to make sure gravel hasn’t gotten trapped somewhere dangerous. At the end of the day it’s good to fill the cement mixers with water and do a test run, this will clean it and allow you to listen out for any strange noises. If you can see some clumped concrete while doing this, feel free to hit the side of the drum of cement mixers with a rubber mallet to help get it loose.
If you find yourself using multiple cement mixers frequently, it might be in your best interest to invest in a high pressure hose. This will ensure that your cement mixers remain clean and operational and will also save lots of cleanup time. A hose with an adjustable nozzle can then also be used later on in pours as we will explain.
This attention also needs to be passed onto your concrete pours. Even if the finest equipment is used throughout the entire process, if you don’t give proper care and attention to your pour once it’s done, unsightly cracks may appear as well as a loss in structural integrity.
How to Care for Newly Poured Concrete
Concrete may seem like one of the most durable substances we can make but caring for it after it’s been poured is extremely important. There’s no point in investing time and money into something just to watch it crack away and be useless. The full chemical process between the cement and water-binding the sand and gravel together that results in concrete being so durable can actually take up to 28 days to fully finish.
During this process, you want to keep moisture within the concrete. Controlling the moisture and temperature of new concrete should be the highest priority for the first few days after working with cement mixers and pouring. To help you keep all your creations strong we’ve got some simple do’s and don’ts to keep in mind after your next concrete pour.
Do spray your concrete with water frequently, about five to ten times per day. This is one of the most common methods for curing concrete and for good reason. It’s a good idea to follow this routine for the first seven days that the concrete is drying.
Doing this will allow the moisture within the concrete to evaporate at a slower pace. Concrete that is kept moist while curing can be up to 50 percent stronger than a drier and faster process. This is not recommended in cold weather however as the water will not evaporate as quickly and may even slow down the process.
Do erect some sort of barrier around the perimeter of your concrete surface. This will keep dust or even small animals from making unsightly tracks. A small wooden wall with supports will work best.
Fresh concrete can be very fragile and any weights on the surface can create permanent dents. Wait at least 24 hours before any foot traffic is allowed across the new surface and make sure no family pets can make a run across either. Something like a vehicle should only be driven across concrete that has been curing for at least 10 days and obviously anything bigger should wait the full curing cycle.
Do cover the concrete with a tarpaulin that is at least 4mm thick. This is a good idea whether or not you have time to give it frequent sprays as the tarpaulin will not only help trap in the moisture and allow for an even evaporation, but it will also stop small debris from falling into your freshly laid project. When concrete is covered, it is recommended to still return at least once a day to re-spray it with water to prevent it from drying too quickly.
Do purchase a curing compound if you are not able to be around for frequent water application. Many hardware stores sell a soluble compound that can be applied to a poured concrete surface. It will then form a protective layer on the top of the concrete that will trap moisture and allow for a consistent cure.[Text Wrapping Break][Text Wrapping Break]Some of these compounds are designed to disappear completely whereas others will either have to be scraped off after the drying process. There are even some that form a permanent bond with the surface that will then waterproof it and give it a permanent glossy effect. Remember to do your research on which compound will be best for your specific purposes.
Don’t let your concrete get too cold. Concrete should be kept at temperatures above at least 10 degrees celsius during the first 7 days after a pour. Remember that a large portion of concrete is water before you’ve even started your daily spray routine, so temperatures that will have a negative effect on water will have an even worse effect on your concrete. If the temperature is below 10 degrees then keeping your concrete warm becomes more important than keeping it damp in order to keep the chemical process going.
A tarpaulin and even concrete insulating blankets in extreme circumstances may be needed. Your spray schedule may even need to change, or perhaps the temperature of the water that you are applying. If the temperature of the concrete drops below seven degrees celsius the hardening process will completely stop.
Don’t paint on or stain your concrete until at least a month after the hardening process has begun. Even if you have finished doing your resprays, the moisture that is still escaping the concrete can have a negative effect on any paint or stains that you apply. The escaping water will prevent paint from adhering properly and also form it to fade and crack much quicker.
Any stained surfaces will have their colour changed by evaporating water and can create blotches of discolour. To be on the safe side it is best to wait until the curing process has completely finished, which can be up to 28 days. Once this period is up you can place whatever you want upon the pristine surface, provided you’ve followed the other steps.
Concrete From Cement Mixers in Different Weathers
With the versatility of cement mixers you can pretty much start a construction project wherever you see fit. Sometimes however, if an outdoor location is chosen, mother nature can have a big role to play in how your new project progresses. Whether it be extreme heat or heavy rains you should always know what to do should a new situation arise.
We’ve already lightly discussed what happens to concrete in colder temperatures and how it can slow the process down, but higher temperatures can be just as detrimental. If you have poured concrete and have a series of hot days forecast, you might need to look into actually increasing the amount of time you wet the concrete each day, and perhaps continuing it for longer than seven days. Another factor to keep in mind is wind as hot and windy days will cause water to evaporate even more quickly.
Concrete that cures too quickly will be brittle and chip away and the chemical process has not had enough time to bind together. If you have a hot and windy climate then a covering for any pours is essential to trap in the extra water you will now also be spraying onto the surface each day. Although tedious this will ensure that your final product is perfect every time.
Another curveball that mother nature can throw at you is an abundance of moisture. Heavy rains can obviously have a hugely negative impact on any construction site, but especially when pouring concrete. If it is a very heavy downpour an entire day’s plans will have to be put on hold for employee safety, not to mention the effect it would have on cement mixers and chemicals.
Water is obviously a key component in the initial mixture that is put in cement mixers to create concrete, but it is also carefully rationed with other ingredients to create a desired durability or texture. The slightest miscalculation in this initial mixture can result in concrete that is barely able to hold its shape and doesn’t cure at all. Therefore if it is raining it is always advised to delay a concrete pour until the weather has cleared.
But what if you’ve already done your pour and as you’re finishing up you can see dark clouds forming? Although at first this seems like a godsend as now you won’t have to keep spraying the concrete to trap moisture, at this time your concrete is extremely fragile and heavy raindrops can actually cause substantial damage. This damage can be hard to rectify afterwards and will leave gashes and divots in your concrete.
Before a pour you should scan your surroundings and take note of all runways or gulleys that might trap water near where you are working. Although it’s already been recommended, a covering is needed now more than ever. As you could be battling some heavy weather, you will also need something to weigh down the covering on all sides to ensure it doesn’t blow away and also to keep an excess amount of rainwater from seeping underneath.
Your concrete will start to stiffen four to six hours after pouring but even then this is not time to relax. If rain does land on your surface after this time, you should not work it into the surface or try and soak it up with cement or other coagulants. Instead you should wait until the weather has cleared and use a brush or scrubber to push the rainwater off the slab.
About three days after the pour the concrete should be sturdy enough to withstand rainwater. And now it can even count as an additional spray to help with the curing process. Just be sure to always stay vigilant and make sure there isn’t water pooling in any locations.
If you keep all of this in mind going forward, you can guarantee that your cement mixers and concrete pours will last you a very long time. In construction dedication and patience are always very important, as shortcuts can have disastrous results. You must never let a deadline get in the way of proper construction protocol.