Laying Brick in the Winter -- Please Help!!


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Old 12-17-08, 06:42 PM
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Laying Brick in the Winter -- Please Help!!

I have some wooden 18x32" windows in my basement that are in window wells. They are half above grade and half below and the window frames are getting a little soft. I would replace the windows but I will be installing a deck on that side of the house in the spring that will block out any light that could potentially reach the windows. Because of this I intend to remove the old windows and brick up the empty space.

I live in Massachusetts and the winter is probably not the best time to lay some brick but I unfortunetely do not have a choice. I have two weeks off from work over the holidays and plan to finish the basement. I plan to frame over where the windows currently are, therefore I will be forced into bricking up the space before I finish the basement.

Here is the kicker....its winter!!! I know it is a big NO-NO to lay brick below 32 degrees and I don't plan to. I'm sure there will be a day or two that will be around 40 degrees for at least 6-8 hours. This is my window of time to lay the brick.

I plan to put a ceramic heater inside the basement near the brick to heat it up a bit but I fear that may not be enough. Are there any readily available products or additives that may help increase the cure speed? I've seen a few products from Quikrete and Sakrete but unfortunetely the local Lowes and Home Depot don't carry them.

I've also seen some "Fast-setting Repair Mortar" products that sound like exactly what I need. They only mention repairing small cracks though, not using it for actually laying bricks. Can they be used for anything other than spot repair?

Sorry for the rather long-winded story,,,but anyone have any ideas? Oh and I should also mention that this is my first house so I'm not exactly a pro yet....so please be patient!
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Old 12-17-08, 07:54 PM
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build a frame on the outside of your window and cover it with visqueen and use it for a mini green house to hold the heat in your space then use conventional masonry cement to lay your bricks, you might need to set a painters light or drop light inside the the cold frame so it will keep your cement from freezing before it sets up.
good luck

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Old 12-17-08, 08:02 PM
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What about mixing calcium chloride with the cement?
 
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Old 12-18-08, 05:07 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions! If and when I plan to put the brick down...I will make sure the temperature remains above freezing. I'm sure there will be a few days (and nights) that the temp will stay above 32.

I'm not worried about the mortar getting damaged from freezing, I'm more worried about an excessive cure time. The weather changes quick here and I don't want rain or anything to fall on the new brick if the the mortar isn't cured yet.

I plan to use hot water (130ish) to mix the mortar and a heater on the inside near the brick. There are two layers of brick on the foundation so I am thinking of doing the outermost layer first. Once it cures I should have an easier time doing the innermost layer.

Does that sound right? Would an accellerator help? If so, where can I find one? Thanks!
 
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Old 12-18-08, 05:44 AM
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I just mentioned the calcium chloride and you're asking where to find an accellerator.

Concrete & Calcium Chloride
 
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Old 12-18-08, 06:04 AM
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Please don't put calcium in mortar.
 
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Old 12-18-08, 06:22 AM
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Laying Brick in the Winter -- Please Help!!

Calcium choride is bad for mortar. Do not use it.

Your conditions are not very harsh and basements are built here done to 0F. The air temperature is not a good measure, but the real measure is the temperature of the wall and materials.

Since you have such a small job, buy bags of sand and keep them inside for a day or two to get them to a decent temperature. The same applies to pre-proprtioned mortar mixes.

You can use hotter water, but make sure the mortar is not over 140 degrees.

Freezing only redices the durability of the mortar if the mortar is frozen when saturated. Usuaaly the hydration of the cement and the block reduce the moisture in the mortar below saturation in a few hours. After that it is just a matter of protection to develop the strength. If it does happen to freeze after a day or so, there is no problem because it start curing again as it warms up and acquires some moisture.
 
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Old 12-18-08, 06:54 AM
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He could use it with portland and sand.
 
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Old 12-18-08, 07:28 AM
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For ease of use I was planning on purchasing the "just-add-water" mix from Sakrete or Quikrete. I've heard mixed reviews about using Calcium Cloride with ready-mix mortar which is why I havn't responded much to it.

After reading a bit online and from your suggestions...here are my plans....

First, I will pick a day that will have daytime temperatures above 35 for at least 8 hours and night temperatures will not go below 25. I will start and finish the job first thing in the morning as soon as the temp is above freezing.

I plan to have all the materials in my basement for a number of days prior to tackling the job. Ambient temperature in the basement is around 55 degrees. I will turn the space heater on near the materials overnight to add a bit of warmth.

I will then use heated water to mix the mortar and get the warmed brick in there as fast as possible. I will then put a piece of plywood on the exterior side of the brick and put some bags of leaves on the outside of the plywood to prevent heatloss. The space heater will run for the remainder of the day and overnight near the new brick to add some heat.

How does that sound? I imagine that after all that the mortar will for the most part be set. The next morning I will shut the space heater off but I will leave the bags of leaves there for another few days.

After that I will fill the window wells up with fast-setting concrete during a +40F warm day.

How does that sound?
 
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Old 12-18-08, 11:22 AM
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Laying Brick in the Winter -- Please Help!!

That will work, but you are overthinking everything and worrying far too much.

No problem with using Quikrete or Sakrete. You do not need a lot of strength. The mortar specification say in the appendix that you should use the weakest mortar possible to carry the loads and you have little load on the filled in window area.

Just portland cement and sand will not be suitable because you need either lime or a masonry cement.

I would use concrete block (8x8x16 and possibly some 8x8x8) and a few brick for the top course. Strong enough and a lot less weight to handle and warm up.

Why fill in with concrete? Rock or gravel will work as well.
 
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Old 12-18-08, 11:55 AM
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Thanks for the reply! I am going to measure the thickness of the existing brick foundation....if I can use the concrete block I will!

I am filling in the well with concrete to prevent water from draining into the well. The well is not in the best spot at all, it is right under the soffit and when the wind blows in from the north the well would fill with water. The water would make its way through the fieldstone foundation and onto the floor below the window. During a bad storm a significant puddle would form.

Sooner or later I will put a gutter up on that side of the house to prevent the runoff from the roof from filling up the well but for right now a few bags of concrete are cheaper than gutters.

I will begin to finish the basement over the holidays so I want to make sure my water problem is taken care of now. It was on my to-do list since spring but I've put it off far too long. Thanks!
 
 

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