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Cold Weather Waterproofing

Nov 10, 2022, 10:02 AM
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Inclement weather can turn a job site into a nightmare. Cold weather, in particular, can elongate the construction process to its unfavorable circumstances and impact the waterproofing projects, which are the cornerstone for a successful new construct. Cold, especially freezing and below-freezing temperatures on an ongoing waterproofing installation, can rise the chances of poor adhesion drastically.


Waterproofing specifications often include passive membrane systems that may involve either a fluid-applied or a "peel and stick" membrane. Generally, installation of these membranes requires the concrete to be cured for a minimum of seven days. However, cold weather can drastically lengthen the time necessary for the concrete to fully dry, delaying important steps in the process. Lower temperatures require more strenuous surface preparation, such as the need for surface primers, to allow for full adhesion with peel and stick membranes and successful waterproofing application.


Even when the air temperature rises, the surface temperature of the concrete lags behind and is slower to warm. The good news is that low-temperature versions of these technologies are available, but they do have specific uses—low-temperature peel-and-stick waterproofing membranes and solvent-based primers requires consistent 25°F ambient air and surface temperatures in order to be most effective.


Additionally, working in cold weather includes designating a heated area for storing materials that are easily accessible, further complicating the project time and needs. 


So how do you help some of these cold-weather waterproofing complications? 

Look to Bentonite

More specifically, a sodium bentonite waterproofing system that’s based on bentonite geotextiles. 


In cold weather conditions, bentonite geotextiles can keep your project on schedule without dramatically impacting overall installation costs. Bentonite geotextiles such as CETCO VOLTEX® flexible water-impermeable barrier sheets remain largely unaffected by temperature. They also are a viable upgrade to an active membrane from a passive one. While VOLTEX® flexible water-impermeable barrier sheets cannot be applied over snow or ice buildup, they can greatly reduce the worries about concrete surface temperatures and frost-free surfaces by eliminating cure time (an application onto green concrete is perfectly acceptable), the need for primers, and greatly reducing surface preparation rigor.


The quality of a bentonite geotextile pays for itself, and installation costs are offset by eliminating the need for a primer and the associated labor to apply it.


VOLTEX_TallLess affected by poor weather conditions, VOLTEX® flexible water-impermeable barrier sheets combine sodium Bentonite layered within a durable, needle-punched geomembrane to provide waterproofing protection for any cast-in-place, below-grade concrete construction such as structural slabs, property line walls, backfilled walls, cut-and-cover tunnels, and earth-covered structures. The VOLTEX® flexible water-impermeable barrier sheet line is available in several variations, to help best suit a range of different design requirements.


So, the next time you have a project specified with either a fluid-applied membrane or a rubberized-asphalt peel and stick membrane and know you’re going to face cold weather conditions, consider the step up to VOLTEX® to help you save time and money, not to mention, frustration. Let our mechanically fastened bentonite geotextile system VOLTEX® flexible water-impermeable barrier sheets help you on your next job site.


VOLTEX® is a registered trademark of Minerals Technologies Inc. or its subsidiaries

Author: Guy Peterson

Guy Peterson has worked in the waterproofing business for 25 years. He started in 1997 as a concrete construction material salesperson in the Minneapolis area. Over his career, Guy worked both for manufacturers and as an installer for architectural concrete, for the last 12 years, has been selling, specifying, and consulting below-grade waterproofing systems in the Midwest.