It is common practice to seal any cracks or holes in a concrete or masonry construction with hydraulic cement. And just like mortar, if you mix this substance with water, it will also harden quickly. However, how specifically quick or long would it cure? Good thing that after much research, we have finally determined the answer.
Fast-setting hydraulic cement only needs three to five minutes to harden. But that has nothing to do with drying time, as many assume. Instead, it indicates that hydraulic cement becomes hard to fix after three to five minutes.
The hydraulic cement may need between five to 28 days, depending on the air's moisture level, to cure completely.
When used to repair leaks, hydraulic cement rarely causes problems for homeowners. The truth, however, is that this isn't the case for everybody. So, we suggest you keep reading to learn how to apply hydraulic cement properly and know some of the reasons why it sometimes takes too long to dry. Let's delve into the details!
How Long Is The Curing Time Of Hydraulic Cement?
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As mentioned above, some types of hydraulic cement can purportedly set in as little as three to five minutes. However, contrary to popular belief, this does not relate to the drying process. It just implies that after over three minutes, the hydraulic cement will get challenging to repair since it has already hardened.
Keep in mind that the hydraulic cement could take five to 28 days to cure fully. And know that the humidity of the surrounding air contributes to its curing time. So, the more humidity is present, the longer the hydraulic cement will dry and cure.
If the hydraulic cement has quickly set but still covered the leak on the concrete, you don't have to worry about anything. However, if 28 days have passed and the cement is still not OK and fully cured, you will need additional work.
In such a case, you will need to remove the hydraulic cement and re-do the application process. And at this rate, it is crucial to follow the correct methods for a successful result.
Where Can You Use Hydraulic Cement?
If you are still not too familiar with hydraulic cement, know that you can use it in all -but not limited to -the following:
- Lifts or elevators
- Sewerage systems
- Walls in your basement area
- Water features, such as fountains and cisterns
- Utility holes
- Sealing and protecting concrete buildings from the elements
How To Properly Apply Hydraulic Cement?
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Hydraulic cement makes quick work of sealing leaks and patching holes. For the most part, it is user-friendly, even for novices. Though, you should always protect your eyes and hands. It is advisable to wear goggles and gloves.
Because lime is an essential ingredient in hydraulic cement, getting any on your skin after combining it with water will induce severe burns. And as an added precaution, wearing acid-resistant clothing would be best, especially when working with a sulfate-mix hydraulic cement.
Let's check the hydraulic cement application tips below!
Provide Hydraulic Cement With Enough Surface For Better Adhesion
Know that you can improve the adhesion of the hydraulic cement in a surface if you provide it with a sufficient or broader surface. And to make such a thing, undercutting around the hole is advisable. All you need to use in this process is a chisel.
Thoroughly Clean The Area
It is advisable to clean the surface you will be working on in every working area. To accomplish this, you will need to utilize water and a brush.
You don't want to experience trouble as you do the task for sure, so you must keep in mind that you should not skip this part, especially if the area is full of oil or grease.
It Would Be Best To Dampen The Area
One rule to make the hydraulic cement easier to modify and prevent it from drying too fast, you should dampen the area. It is because the mortar or cement can absorb water from the mixture, which causes it to harden quickly and can hardly bond on the surface.
All you need to do here is to spray the area with water. Moreover, some manufacturers require wetting the area one day before applying the hydraulic cement.
Create A Mixture In Small Batches
You should be aware that the hydraulic cement is too quick to harden once you add water. Around the three minutes mark, it will be hard to work on and use.
On the other hand, if it hardens and you try to add more water, know that doing this is wrong. It is because you will just slow down the drying time of the hydraulic cement.
As every manufacturer recommends, it would be best to create a mixture only of how much you can consume within three minutes.
Ensure Proper Consistency
You should also create a hydraulic cement mix with a consistency like putty or peanut butter. You'll know you have the right consistency if you can roll the hydraulic cement into a ball and quickly compress it into the concrete gap or any hole.
Observe The Temperature In The Area
It is advisable not to use hydraulic cement if the ground is too chilly. Moreover, you must ensure that the spot is at temperatures above 45 degrees for the first 24 hours after putting the hydraulic cement. There's no point in applying it if the conditions aren't right outside.
Apply It The Right Way
The recommended application technique for hydraulic cement is to apply it on top and work your way down. Because of this, the hydraulic cement has ample time to fully incorporate into the concrete before setting in and leaving behind discrepancies at the base.
Using hydraulic cement will be a breeze, especially if you can control or perfect the consistency and temperature. In any case, make sure you follow the directions on the packaging label. Keep in mind that guidelines may change depending on whether you're using a generic one or a hydraulic cement designed for a specific application.
Why Is Hydraulic Cement Having Difficulty Curing?
Although hydraulic cement brands need only three to five minutes to dry and 28 days to fully cure, know that there are several possible issues why they may take too long, more than the suggested timeframe. Check the following:
You Have Applied The Hydraulic Cement Inappropriately
As mentioned, you should clean the area first, wet it if required, and mix the hydraulic cement and water in small amounts. After that, immediately roll them into a ball, then patch them into the concrete hole.
Remember that you must use the correct size. It is to ensure that you can adequately fill in the gaps or holes. Know that incorrect execution of the application method will cause the hydraulic cement to dry too slowly or not dry at all. Additionally, it will most likely cause continuous leaks.
You Might Have Used Too Much Water
As mentioned earlier, you might think adding extra water to the hydraulic cement will make it dry slower. However, that is not the case. It is because it doesn't contain oxychloride like regular cement. Therefore, it rapidly hydrates after you incorporate water into it.
When put in contact with water, those hydrates do not undergo a softening process. That's why sealing leaks with hydraulic cement is such a great idea. However, this also implies that you cannot reconstitute it by adding more water after mixing it.
In this case, the hydraulic cement won't dry to your desired state. All you need to do is to get rid of it and re-apply.
The Hydraulic Cement Is Ice Cold
As also mentioned earlier in this post, it is highly advisable only to use hydraulic cement if the temperature does not exceed 90 degrees and goes below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, know that the ideal temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you can't do anything to reach the appropriate temperature, try to use caulk as a stopgap measure. Permanently install the hydraulic cement patch once the temperature goes up.
You Are Using Outdated Cement
The average lifespan of hydraulic cement is 365 days or one year. Once you have finished one pack or container of hydraulic cement, you can toss it. It is due to the fact that cement's susceptibility to moisture increases with time spent in storage. Expect a failed patching result if you will use the old one.
Hydraulic Cement Consists Of Other Liquid
Expect the hydraulic cement not to harden if other liquid contaminates it, especially grease or oil. It is the main reason it is highly advisable to clean the area before starting the application process. Greasy and oily tools can also be the cause of this issue.
The only solution here is to remove the hydraulic cement and apply a new one again.
What To Do To Smooth Hydraulic Cement?
All you need to do to level and smooth hydraulic cement on the concrete wall or any surface is to sand it down. You can use an angle grinder to do this step.
Wrapping It All Up!
If you wish to avoid any possible causes why hydraulic cement takes too long to harden or cure, it would be best to follow the discussed steps on how to make the application properly. Additionally, you should also keep in mind the numerous tips mentioned, such as creating a hydraulic cement mix with a putty- or peanut butter-like consistency and avoiding cold surfaces or temperatures.
You have finished reading the article! We hope you find this helpful. However, if you still have some additional questions, please feel free to reach out in the comments. And to continue reading, you can check these posts out!