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How Winter Snowfall Damages Concrete

At first glance, concrete is a hard, durable material that seems indestructible against the elements. However, it’s not uncommon for even the strongest concrete to show signs of weakness, especially when snowstorms hit.

If you did not prepare your commercial concrete for winter, you might end up with more than just a broken pavement, driveway, or parking lot. You might experience operational downtime and profit loss. When you have cracked sidewalks, for example, you may have to halt your operations for repairs and replacements, meaning you lose one or more days’ worth of income. You could even face a series of liability claims due to injuries sustained by passers-by, customers, or employees.

3 Ways Snowfall Damages Concrete

If your concrete is showing signs of damage, we offer concrete replacement solutions in Kansas City. Our team of concrete specialists can assess the most cost-effective solution to your flatwork problems that could arise during winter. Here is how winter snow can affect concrete.

1. Scaling


When thin layers of exterior concrete slabs start to peel, this is what is seen as scaling. These peels look like small flakes and are generally thinner than a sheet of paper. Light scaling shows small patches of flakes on the flatwork slab. When the problem becomes severe, these peels can occur deeper into concrete – mid-slab – exposing fine and coarse aggregates of concrete.
Scaling often takes place when concrete is exposed to low or sub-freezing temperatures, great amounts of moisture, and freeze-thaw cycle. Additionally, scaling problems can worsen if property owners use the wrong de-icing chemicals.

2. Spalling


Another common issue for concretes that almost always arises when winter comes is spalling. It happens when the cracked areas of the flatwork slab have delaminated from the substrate. The problem is mostly caused by rebar corrosion when steel materials have been greatly exposed to moisture and freeze thaw-cycle.

Meanwhile, when steel corrodes, it can expand and occupy a higher volume than it initially did. The pressure from expansion can lead to concrete delamination and spalling. If your concrete is spalling, you should attend to it immediately. When you leave your concrete in this deteriorative state, the value of your property could decrease as the damage becomes widespread. Additionally, customers likely stay away from establishments that are potentially hazardous.

3. Cracking


In the winter, poorly designed or poorly mixed concrete is at an increased risk of cracking. After the snow falls, melts, and becomes water, the water is then absorbed by the concrete and refreezes when exposed to low temperatures. When ice forms within the slab, it causes internal tensile pressure, which can lead to cracks. You should also not salt your concrete as it might worsen the problem. Salt turns to water, which repeats the freeze-thaw cycle

It pays to prepare your property before winter and know which kind of damage you can prevent with this preparation. Preparation can save you money from potential business interruptions and liability claims. It also preserves your property’s appeal and structural integrity even during a snowstorm.

If the damage is beyond your control and capability, you can call us for your concrete repair needs. At K&E Flatwork, our project managers will work with you to find the best concrete replacement or repair solution that fits within your budget and schedule. Click below to contact us today.

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