Photograph of a cracked poured concrete wall, probably settlement and/or bad mix - repair needed New Concrete Foundation or Slab Freeze Damage
How to Identify & Evaluate Freezing, Water & Other Damage to New Concrete Slabs or Foundations

  • FREEZING & WATER DAMAGED SLABS - CONTENTS: How to Identify & Evaluate Freezing Water & Other Damage to New Concrete Slabs or Foundations. What are the trouble signs of freezing damage: flaking, cracking, heaving, in new concrete foundation walls, floors, slabs, footings? When is concrete foundation damage severe enough to need repairs?
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to identify and evaluate frost or water damage to concrete slabs and foundations
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Frost or freezing or water damage to new or recently-placed concrete foundations, slabs, or floors: How to Identify & Evaluate Freezing & Water Damage to New Concrete Slabs or Foundations.

This article series describes how to recognize and diagnose various types of foundation failure or damage, such as foundation cracks, masonry foundation crack patterns, and moving, leaning, bulging, or bowing building foundation walls.

Types of foundation cracks, crack patterns, differences in the meaning of cracks in different foundation materials, site conditions, building history, and other evidence of building movement and damage are described to assist in recognizing foundation defects and to help the inspector separate cosmetic or low-risk conditions from those likely to be important and potentially costly to repair.

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Freezing or Water Damage in Poured Concrete Slabs or Foundations

Photograph of a cracked concrete slab from frost heave damage

Foundation question about winter exposure: we have a new home being built and so far only the foundation has been poured and the bottom floor has been laid down. we are from Ontario Canada and it has been a bad winter with a lot of snow and ice.

Our floor has been exposed to an abundance of snow, ice and rain for at least 3 months. The snow and ice has melted and then re froze. Our builder says that this is ok and it will cause no damage. Is this true? Is it ok to have the floor exposed for the whole winter?

Foundation answer: If the concrete was mixed and handled properly for a cold weather pour (some suppliers use special additives to prevent freezing damage during concrete curing) and if the site was prepared and protected properly during the critical early period of curing of the concrete (protect from rain, flooding, freezing), your new foundation is probably just fine.

However since things can and do go wrong in construction and in life, below we describe how to take a look at your new foundation to see if there are any early signs of trouble. Certainly if there were serious damage to a new foundation, it would be far less costly to repair it before, rather than after, framing and other subsequent steps in building construction.

While concrete continues to cure and harden for weeks or months after it has been poured, the new pour is most vulnerable to rain, frost, or water damage when the pour is very new - from the time right after the pour has been completed, for perhaps 24 to 48 hours. After that time, rain and water themselves are unlikely to damage the exposed concerete. Flaking and spalling are the two most common freezing or concrete mix (or finishing process) problems likely when a concrete poured wall or floor are brand new.

However both new or even older concrete in a poured building foundation slab or foundation walls might be damaged by water and frost from other mechanisms such as frost heaves caused by freezing wet soils which can push or even adhere-to and lift below-ground and on-ground structural components, and also settlement caused by soil subsidence due to compression (water causes compression of inadequately-compacted soil below a concrete footing or slab) or erosion (loss of soil washed out from below a concrete wall or floor).

Signs of trouble in a newly poured foundation wall, slab, or floor in cold, wet, or freezing weather

Types of foundation cracks and their cause are discussed in detail at FOUNDATION CRACK DICTIONARY - the direct web link to this foundation diagnosis article is - this article that may help you recognize what's going on with your foundation.

In sum, if a month or two after a new concrete slab or wall has been poured, you don't see flaking, shrinkage cracks or movement-related cracking, then the new pour has not been damaged by freezing or wet condition. But remember that other defects: cracks, settlement, spalling, can occur later in the life of the building.


Continue reading at FROST HEAVE / EXPANSIVE SOIL CRACKS in SLABS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see these

Concrete Crack Diagnosis & Repair Articles

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