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Dealing with and Preventing Frozen Concrete in Your Concrete Pump Boom

If you are an individual who has recently taken on multiple concrete-pouring jobs in the late fall or early winter, then you need to worry about concrete freezing. This is especially true if you use a concrete pump truck. If this is your first time using a pump truck in the cold weather, then you may not be familiar with the way the concrete needs to be handled when it does freeze. Keep reading to understand how to deal with concrete-freezing problems and how they can be avoided once the issue is initially dealt with.

How to Deal with Freezing Concrete

As you mix concrete and feed it through the boom pipeline attached to the hopper, the water within the mix can freeze. If you are continually mixing concrete and pouring a large slab, then the concrete will typically freeze on the inside of the boom and create a layer of frozen material from the inside edge of the pipeline inward. You will notice concrete flowing more slowly and eventually stopping as the pipeline becomes completely blocked with frozen material. 

This may cause you to panic because concrete will typically harden inside the boom. When this happens, a time-consuming process is required to clear the material from the pipe. High-pressure water must be used to systematically chip away at the concrete a little bit at a time. However, the pressure must be slow and controlled so the internal pipe lining is not broken away. It can take hours to release the concrete before you can start pumping again.

A controlled flush out will be required if you allow the concrete to harden in the boom. However, concrete stops curing once it freezes. This is one reason why special heaters are typically placed on top of concrete slabs when they are poured in the winter. This means you will have time to heat up the boom and remove the frozen concrete before it hardens. 

If you notice that your pumping boom has a full blockage, then you will need to warm up the pipeline immediately so the concrete can be cleaned out. Moving the truck to a warm location like a closed garage or warehouse is a good idea. Allow the truck to sit for an hour or more and start forcing hot water into the hopper. Turn on the hydraulic concrete pump and force out all of the previously frozen concrete. Continue to force warm water through the hopper and boom until you see clean water coming out of the pipeline.

How to Prevent Future Freezing Problems

Once you have successfully removed the frozen concrete from the pump hopper and boom, you will want to prevent future freezing issues. There are several techniques you can use to keep the material from freezing. You can and should use hot water to mix your concrete inside the hopper. Hot water can be supplied to your work site in a variety of ways. You can either place an insulated drum heater around a large water storage tank or you can purchase a portable water heater. Large water heaters that use propane to heat the fluid are a good choice if you have limited access to electricity around your work area.

You should also make sure that you insulate your boom to keep the heated concrete mixture as warm as possible as it moves through the pump truck. Use pipe-insulation material to help the pipe retain heat. Find pipe insulation that is wide enough to match the dimensions of the pipe boom. Common polyethylene pipe insulation will work well. Running hot water through the boom when concrete is not being pumped is a good way to keep it warm as well. Thermal insulation film and insulated blankets can be utilized to retain heat too. 

Talk to a company such as Masterlink Concrete Pumping for more information.