How Can Freeze Thaw Weathering Effect Your Property?
31 January 2023
When it comes to protecting your property from the effects of weathering, making sure that you aren’t opening yourself up to unnecessary risks is just as important as repairing what needs fixing.
With that in mind, how large a role can freeze thaw weathering play in the degradation of your property, and how exactly might freeze thaw weathering effect your property?
Find out everything you need to know about the freeze thaw process right here, including the impact that freeze thaw weathering might have on damp – and how you can put a stop to it.
What Is Freeze Thaw Weathering?
Freeze thaw weathering is the process of water coming to rest within cracks and other spaces in the likes of masonry, tarmac, rock beds, or any other surface that is not permeable.
Once that water has come to rest, the freeze thaw weathering takes place when that same water freezes within the crack.
Lets look at masonry as an example.
If it is raining heavily, and the rain manages to come to rest within some of the cracks within the masonry, then it probably going to be contained within the brick and mortar of the wall for a while – especially at times when its cold.
When the temperature drops, and the water within your masonry cracks begins to freeze then you are going to find that the water actually expands as it freezes.
This expansion is naturally going to erode the brick and mortar, making the crack the water has frozen in bigger, and over time this process can repeat and make the issue worse and worse. This type of degradation is called freeze thaw, and it can really compromise not only the structure itself, but also lead to the spread of damp as more of the masonry is compromised.
Does Damp Cause Freeze Thaw Weathering?
Freeze thaw weathering is the process of water already within a substance like concrete or masonry freezing, expanding, and eroding the material around it.
So, you might assume that damp is the root cause of freeze thaw. Realistically though, damp does not have to be present for freeze thaw to set in.
It could be just as simple as a crack in your masonry that water sets in before freezing that begins the freeze thaw process, but don’t be under the impression that freeze thaw and damp aren’t linked. If your property experiences freeze thaw then its very likely that you could experience penetrating damp in the near future.
That’s because penetrating damp is a form of damp that occurs via faults already within your property. Things like a leaking gutter or failed pointing can allow damp to set in the property, so having a crack in your walls that is being expanded by the likes of freeze thaw is going to increase the likeliness of rainwater making its way into your properties walls, developing into penetrating damp.
How Can Freeze Thaw Weathering Effect My Masonry?
Freeze thaw weathering can easily degrade the quality of your masonry if you aren’t careful.
If water is allowed to collect, freeze, expand, and erode the materials making up your properties walls you are potentially going to find yourself at the receiving end of a whole host of different property care issues.
First off, the freeze thaw weathering itself can easily separate and widen cracks in your mortar. Alone, this is problem enough as it can loosen and weaken the strength of your walls if allowed to continue long enough.
That’s not all though. The ruination of your mortar leads into the compromising of your properties pointing. This means that your walls are no longer going to be waterproof, so any future rain water is going to easily penetrate your walls and turn to penetrating damp.
This, again, will have knock on effects. Not only will you have damp seeping into your properties walls, but you could see the likes of rot or mould begin to take hold – all avoidable if the freeze thaw weathering and loss of pointing were corrected or protected against in the first place.
Essentially, without proper protection or corrective action, freeze thaw weathering can easily ruin the quality and protection of your properties walls.
How Can Freeze Thaw Effect Concrete?
Concrete, just like masonry, can be affected by freeze thaw.
You need only look at widening cracks in pavements and other concrete structures to see how easily the freeze thaw process can widen and worsen cracks in concrete.
Depending on where your concrete has been poured or used in your property, you might have better or worse luck with both the speed at which the concrete succumbs to freeze thaw, and the rate at which damp might set in and spread.
Say the concrete has been poured as part of your floor – like how it might be used in a garage conversion, or as part of a foundation for an above ground structure.
It’s likely that a part of that concrete is going to be exposed to external weather conditions, and should freeze thaw open up and expose cracks in the concrete, you are going to notice them not only get larger over time, but potentially expose your concrete to damp.
In this instance, you might find that any damp proofing measures you have installed in the concrete, such as a DPC, are circumvented by the concrete being compromised. You could easily have damp slowly spread through your concrete based floor, leading to further degradation and dilapidation – or even just a nasty drop in temperature and the horrible possibility of mould.
In any case, allowing freeze that to continue expanding and worsening the state of your concrete after you notice would be a little reckless. Having your concrete repaired would be the responsible and cost effective thing to do, and it would also put a stop to the potential of damp setting in as a knock on effect of the freeze thaw.
How To Stop Freeze Thaw
Like many different property care problems, freeze thaw is a problem that is best pre-empted rather than repaired.
As freeze thaw erosion takes place from within cracks and breaks within your properties constructive materials like masonry or concrete, its worth assessing the quality of your exterior walls to make sure there aren’t any major areas that could allow in moisture.
This might involve having your exterior walls repointed, with any holes being patched up and re-sealed against the possibility of more moisture making its way into the masonry in the future. Not only will this grant you a layer of protection against freeze thaw weathering, but you will also have an added buffer against the possibility of penetrating damp soaking through unprotected walls.
Our own WeatherTek solution, for example, is a great way to not just protect your property from the likes of rain penetration, but it also works to prevent heat loss as well, acting as an external layer of insulation.
Protection against freeze thaw weathering may also mean having any concrete walls patched up and properly waterproofed to stop moisture from settling within any small cracks that might expand. This could mean the likes of a waterproofing solution being applied – again, alongside protection against freeze thaw weathering, this could help you stop any leaks or other major forms of damp from setting in the concrete.
Realistically, protection against freeze thaw weathering is also protection against damp. Making sure that your property isn’t falling victim to weathering and the widening cracks that freeze thaw creates is going to pay off when it comes to making sure that penetrating damp doesn’t set in your property.
To learn more about how you might stave off penetrating damp, you can read more here. Or, for an expert, bespoke solution to a situation you might be experiencing due to freeze thaw weathering or penetrating damp, you can always request a survey from our highly qualified team.
After their initial survey of your property, they can help to determine the best course of action to help you keep your property free of damp. Whether this be via repair, pointing, or otherwise, you can rest assured you are following a ratified and PCA accredited course of action.