De-Icing Chemicals….The winter can be an extremely trying time for concrete, whether it lies in sidewalks, driveways, or paving slabs. This is primarily because cold temperatures cause concrete to shrink and contract. If water is allowed to enter things like paving slabs, through cracks and fissures, and then it freezes, it can cause a great deal of damage.
However, this damage is nothing compared to the harmful nature of de-icing chemicals. These substances should never be used on concrete surfaces, because they eat into the material itself and weaken its overall integrity. It is still very common, especially during the winter months, to see concrete sidewalks which have been worn down by de-icing chemicals.
Wherever possible, you should avoid using de-icing chemicals on your driveway. If the surface has a tendency to become very slippery during the winter, substitute de-icers for sand. You can sprinkle it over the top of ice and it will encourage it to melt, without also causing damage to the concrete.
How Do De-Icing Chemicals Damage Concrete?
The question is, what exactly do de-icing chemicals do to concrete which is so bad? Well, if you combine a de-icer, which contains chemicals like rock salt or sodium chloride, with a concrete surface, the makeup and balance of the aggregate solution can be altered. This will usually lead to serious cracks appearing in the surface of the concrete. Whilst there are some exceptions, the best option is to simply steer clear of de-icers altogether when dealing with concrete – just to play it safe.
Why Are De-Icing Chemicals Used On Roads?
The reality is that de-icing chemicals are fast acting, easy to disperse, and seem to do no harm to pedestrians. This makes them the ideal choice for city and town councils looking to make roads safer during the winter. The downside, of course, is that they cause long term damage to concrete surfaces, but this can seem like a necessary evil when you have a whole town full of people sliding about on black ice. Yet, increasingly, the argument against the use of de-icers grows. It is now believed that they pose a threat to local wildlife too.
Do We Really Need To Use De-Icing Chemicals?
For the reasons outlined above, it is difficult to restrict the use of de-icing chemicals, even on roads and sidewalks which might eventually be damaged by them. The fact of the matter is that they function as a way to keep pedestrians and drivers safe. The future cost of repairs and replacements is something which has to be weighed up against the benefits.
Are There Any Less Harmful Alternatives?
Luckily, there are some handy alternatives to de-icing chemicals. As already outlined, sand is a very cheap and easy to distribute substitute. It poses no risk to the environment and it can be cleaned up quickly too. Also, chloride and magnesium are believed to be two more environmentally safe (and concrete safe) alternatives to the use of de-icing chemicals.
Is There A Way To Prevent Cracks Forming?
The best way to prevent cracks and fissures from appearing in concrete during the winter is to keep up with regular maintenance. So, if you have a concrete drive, do not wait until the cold weather arrives to start taking care of it. You should keep it clean, free of liquids, and protected from vehicular damage all the way through the year. If you keep up with routine maintenance and fill in tiny cracks as they appear, your driveway should never suffer with severe fissures or aberrations.
What If I Go Ahead and Use De-Icers Anyway?
Of course, it is entirely your decision whether or not to use de-icers on a concrete driveway – just as it is the decision of local authorities to decide whether the benefits of such a fast acting solution are worth the downsides. If you do need to deal with cracks in concrete fast and efficiently, it can be a good idea to call in a concrete specialist or paving expert. A company of this kind will be able to help you fill in cracks, replace top layers (if necessary), and make sure that concrete surfaces can weather the winter.