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Can Snowmelt Affect Concrete Over Time?

Shoveling Snow Off of Concrete Driveway After A Winter Storm

Concrete and snow can be a tricky combination during this time of year. Because we are ending a period of freezing temperatures and turning towards the beginning of snow melting and refreezing each day, it can be a lot for concrete to endure. Along with the natural snow-melting process, the continuous use of ice-removing chemicals can be very hard on your exposed concrete, permanently damaging it.

What Happens To Concrete During The Winter?

Winter in Minnesota can cause major damage to your concrete, especially when the concrete is left uncoated. During the winter, there is a process called the freeze-thaw cycle that causes cracking and flaking to occur.

This cycle means that as the snow is melting, the water is being absorbed into the concrete, but when temperatures drop (typically at night), the water that was absorbed freezes. Ice-crystals form inside your concrete and lead to the expansion and breaking down of concrete. 

You may be driving around the Twin Cities and notice a ton of potholes at the end of winter. Think of all the potholes on the road that weren’t there last year. The same freeze-thaw process occurs on the streets that can happen in your driveway. Because of the continuous pressure of cars driving over exposed concrete on the road, it causes extensive damage, such as a pothole, where it may be a little less on a driveway. 

What Happens To Concrete With Snow-Melting Chemicals?

Though natural snowmelt can cause severe damage to concrete all on its own, when you use snow or ice-removing chemicals, it can make concrete damage even worse. 

Road salt (or sodium chloride), though one of the most popular chemicals, is probably one of the most damaging as well. When you use salt on your concrete, it only attracts more water to your concrete, causing more water to be absorbed and, therefore, more damage. Road salt is the most popular among buyers because it is believed to be the least expensive ice melt solution, but being as harmful as it is to your driveway, is it worth it?

An alternative to using road salt on your concrete would be to look for safer chemical options, such as other chloride-based ice melter products. Calcium Chloride is considered to be one of the best options for concrete. It’s very effective in lower temperatures and works by breaking the bond between your concrete and ice. Calcium chloride works quickly, is more sustainable, and causes a lot less damage than other products.

Magnesium Chloride is also another effective chemical in colder temperatures. This chemical tends to be popular because it is plant-safe and less corrosive than road salt. But like with all chemicals, be sure to handle carefully and don’t overuse it, as too much can still be harmful to your concrete. 

Whatever snow-melting chemical you decide to use, be sure to know the harmful effects it can cause and if it is worth repairing or replacing your concrete over. 

Protect Your Concrete By Coating It

After every winter in Minnesota, you don’t want to invest in repairing or replacing your outdoor concrete. That’s why it is best to have it coated and sealed before winter weather strikes. Coating your concrete will allow it to be more flexible, resistant, stronger, and more stable – all qualities you want to fight off the low temperatures and unwanted chemicals hitting your concrete. 

Along with coating, you may want to consider having your concrete sealed as well. Cleaning & sealing your concrete prevents a heavy amount of water absorption, so you won’t have to stress about extensive damages. Along with less water absorption, a concrete sealer also prevents any anti-ice or road salt chemicals from seeping into your concrete. 

Coating and sealing is the perfect armor your concrete needs to last through the winter. At Concrete Coatings of Minnesota, we want your concrete investment to last as long as possible. With the use of our services, you can start protecting your concrete today and not have to worry about it for years to come. Contact us today to schedule your concrete project and we’ll give you a free estimate!

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