What is freezing and thawing?
As the name suggests, a freezing and thawing cycle refers to a natural phenomenon in which soil freezes in cold weather and then thaws out again once the temperature warms up. Freezing and thawing in northern climates is good news for farmers, as it helps to loosen up the soil and reduce compaction, which makes it easier for crop roots to grow. However, for construction engineers and contractors, this process can prove to be incredibly problematic, especially if they are building on fine-grained soils with silt or clay factions, which are more prone to freezing and thawing.
What are the problems associated with freezing and thawing?
Essentially, freezing and thawing cycles accelerate soil instability. Soil with pores containing small particles of frozen water is known as permafrost. Building on permafrost is fine, as long as the soil stays frozen, but things become problematic once the permafrost begins to thaw. Freezing and thawing of permafrost cause soil to become soft and less compact. Subsequently, this causes structures, such as roadways, railways, foundations, and pipeline supports, to sink. Obviously, this can cause major headaches.
How can the problem of freezing and thawing be mitigated?
Alchatek soil stabilization products can be used to compact the ground and displace water particles in the soil pores. Depending on the soil type, this could prevent frost heave, resulting in a stronger, more consistent base to build on.