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If you are installing new concrete in or around your home, whether it is done professionally or by yourself, it is important to make sure the concrete mixture has the right moisture content so it is as strong and durable as possible when it cures. Here is information about the effects moisture content has on concrete and how to test your concrete for the right moisture content.
Why You Should Test Your Concrete Mixture
When you are mixing up your concrete of aggregate, cement, and water, it is important to get the mixture of water-to-dry mix at the right ratio. When concrete is mixed with water, a chemical reaction occurs in the mixture to cure the concrete, hardening it into a strong material. Having the wrong mixture can cause your concrete to be weak in several different ways.
If you add too much water to the mix, the concrete will shrink and crack as it cures, causing it to be weak. If not enough water is added to the mixture, the concrete will be hard to pour evenly. It will also be prone to trap air pockets in the mixture, causing the cured concrete to be weaker. Then, with not enough water to combine with the concrete, the concrete won't have the proper chemical reaction occur to create a full cure.
How to Do a Professional Slump Test
The easiest and most well-known way to test your concrete mixture for an appropriate water content is to do a slump test. The slump cone is a 12-inch cone made from sheet metal, with a base of a diameter of eight inches and the top measured at four inches in diameter. When you fill the cone with your concrete and remove the metal cone form, watch how well the concrete holds its shape. The amount the concrete slumps down will tell you if the mixture is too wet or too dry.
To do a slump test, first, moisten the inside of the test cone. Next, place the base of the test cone onto a sturdy, flat surface. Fill the cone one-third full and place a vibrating rod into the concrete for a few seconds to settle the concrete and allow any air pockets to escape. Fill the cone to two-thirds full with concrete and again place the vibrating rod into the concrete to removing air. Repeat this step a third time to fill the cone slightly over the top of the top. Scrape the excess concrete and slowly remove the cone from the concrete.
Place the form next to the test concrete to measure how far down the concrete slumps, or falls. Place a level across the top of the metal cone, extending over the top of the concrete sample to help measure the difference in distance. Use a ruler to measure the distance from the level to the top of your concrete sample.
If one side of your test concrete collapses, it is considered a shear slump and needs to be tested again. If your concrete has slumped down four inches, it is at the right water content and is ready for you to pour it into your concrete forms. If the concrete has slumped less than four inches, the mixture is too dry. If your concrete has slumped more than four inches, it has too much water content and you may need to add more dry mixture.
How to Do Your Own Simple Concrete Test
If you don't have professional concrete testing supplies, such as the slump cone and vibrating rod, you can conduct your own similar test with a plastic or foam cup. Cut out the bottom of a plastic or foam cup. Fill the cup with your concrete mixture and pack it well, holding your hand over the cut-out bottom to keep the concrete inside.
Place the concrete-filled cup upside-down on a flat surface and wiggle the cup slightly as you pull the cup off the concrete. Set the cup next to the cone of concrete and measure the concrete's slump.
The correct slump in this test should be approximately 1/2 to 3/4 the height of the cup. If the slump is more than that, your mixture is too wet and you need to add more dry concrete mixture. If the concrete has slumped less than three-quarters, it is too dry and needs more water added.
Use this information to make sure to test your concrete for the right moisture content. You can also click here for more information.Share