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Managing Cold Weather Construction

2015 began with a cold snap shutting down numerous construction projects across the area and the nation. While the Southeast region may not see heavy snow, the cold winds, frozen ground, and freezing temperatures still present their own challenges to construction projects and tradesmen. So, if your construction project occurs during some of the winter months, you should be aware of the potential for additional costs and time delays due to weather.

For instance, did you know:

  •  With cold temperatures comes decreased daylight, which affects on the job productivity. Not only are there less daylight hours for construction crews to work, you also lose the time needed to properly warm up equipment, as well as the time and effort required to set up temporary heating or even lighting equipment.
  •  For concrete and masonry to cure properly, it needs to maintain a moderate temperature. Freezing conditions require additives and even blankets to ensure the correct temperature is maintained.  Frost, freezing actions, and low temperatures can often cause physical damage or reduced strength in concrete.  In fact, concrete cannot be placed on frozen surfaces or subgrade containing frozen material.  
  •  In masonry construction, it is necessary to heat the water used in mixing grout and mortar, and in some cases the masonry components themselves have to be heated.Once masonry is laid, it may be necessary to cover walls with insulated blankets or weather-resistant membranes.
  • Asphalt requires certain temperatures for proper adhesion and in order to achieve desired compaction. However, different temperatures often regulate when you can install base courses, tack coats, and surface courses.  It is very important to monitor all temperatures (ambient, base, and hot mix asphalt) and wind velocity during the paving process.
  •  The site in general is harder to keep properly maintained.  Freezing temperatures repeatedly keeps moisture from evaporating and increased precipitation during the winter months often leave the ground saturated.  Construction equipment activity tends to exacerbate the situation creating a muddy and unsafe environment.
  • Winter also calls for heightened safety precautions due to the increased chance of frostbite, dehydration, and slipping hazards. 


Remaining safe on construction sites in winter means understanding the hazards and issues that specific weather presents and being proactive about potential problems. At RKR we take steps to anticipate weather complications and make every effort to ensure our sites are safe for everyone involved. 



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