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How To Tell If Concrete Is Too Wet

When installing concrete, it's important to make it durable and strong. Applying the correct measurements in mixing the concrete is the way to do this! In this post, we'll walk you through a comprehensive guide based on our research to identifying wet concrete and ways to avoid it for a solid foundation.

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

There are two key points to identifying concrete that's too wet: 

  • Check for consistency: Is the concrete like soup or oatmeal? A soupy consistency means that the water-to-cement ratio is messed up. This is a no-no.
  • Check for slump: Identifying how slumpy (how well concrete can hold itself up) your mixture is will help you determine if it holds too much water. Professional masons do this before finalizing anything.

It's important to understand that the consistency of concrete depends on its utility. Different mixes are used for different builds. If you're planning to DIY a project that involves concrete, make sure that you're getting the quality you need.  The key is in the details. Read on to learn more about concrete and how to work with it!

pouring concrete to the road., How To Tell If Concrete Is Too Wet

How To Tell If Concrete Is Too Wet

concrete workers plasterers levelling liquid cement at construct

If your concrete is too wet, this can result in breaks and cracks, making the cement weak in just a handful of years. The key is to follow the correct guide in mixing concrete and by testing if it can hold itself up or not.

There are many qualities that will indicate that your concrete is too watery. Here are a few things you need to watch out for:

Check For Consistency

Like cake batter, concrete is made up of different dry materials that are then mixed with water to create a chemical reaction and produce concrete.

Concrete is comprised of 30% sand, 40% gravel, 10% cement, and 20% water. If the dry-to-liquid ratio is not properly portioned, you will end up with a bad mix.

To check for consistency, put on gloves and dig through the concrete with your hand. If it feels like soup that easily runs down your hand, you need to add more cement.

Good concrete should have a pastier consistency, like that of oatmeal. If it's the right consistency, you will be able to grab a handful and form something out of it.

Check For Slump 

Checking for slump is vital in making concrete. Slump in masonry simply means firmness. To check for slump, all you need is a slump cone, tape measure, and a sample of the concrete. 

When you check for slump, you're ensuring that the concrete you'll be using is firm and not watery. Watery concrete won't be able to hold itself up. Slump in concrete has different ranges. Take a look at this chart for reference.

You can measure slump by pouring the concrete into a slump cone. Once that's done, slowly remove the cone to reveal the concrete inside. The concrete shouldn't slide all the way down.

Afterward, measure the size of the concrete next to the cone with the tape measure and check the difference between the heights. 

Check out this slump cone on Amazon.

A simpler way to check for slump is to look for the category of slump it belongs to. There are four categories:

  • True Slump: True slump is when the cone is firm enough to hold its shape with the concrete inside. The workability of this type of concrete is very low.
  • Zero Slump: Having no slump at all means that the mixture is too dry. This mix is mostly used for building roads.
  • Shear Slump: When the concrete is leaning sideways in the cone, you have a watery mix. It can still be fixed by adding the dry components.
  • Collapse: Collapsed concrete is a like literal soup in the cone. It has more water than necessary and needs to be redone.

Workability of Concrete

The workability of concrete highly depends on the proportion of the materials involved, including cement and water. The higher the slump, the higher the workability. This means that the concrete can be mixed and placed without losing much of its form.

Workability matters because it's how the concrete can be shaped and mixed for different purposes. Workability also varies for different projects.

Why You Should Avoid Watery Concrete

Concrete Slump Test,Concrete density test.

Concrete is a necessary material in building a secure and safe home, or even a simple craft. If the foundation is not made of quality materials, you won't feel secure about your home. It may seem functional today, but, in the future, it may crack or break.

The same goes for concrete that is too dry. It can end up becoming weak and useless in the future. But it's also important to know that "too much water" differs from one mason to another. Remember, the proportions aren't the same for every build.

For example, the formula for driveway concrete is different for concrete that's poured on bricks and rocks, or concrete used as a foundation.

Read the post Can You Pour Concrete Over Rocks? to learn more.

What Is Bleeding Concrete?

Bleeding in fresh concrete.

Concrete bleeding occurs when your water-to-cement ratio is not balanced. Concrete bleeding is not necessarily a bad thing. As the word bleeding indicates, it simply means that water is bleeding out of the cement.

Water escaping from concrete is a normal thing, but it shouldn't happen too fast, and you should not see a great deal of water. There are two types of bleeding:

  • Normal bleeding: when the water seeping through the concrete's surface is uniform.
  • Channel bleeding: when the water rises through different parts of the concrete.

Sometimes, even if you have normal bleeding, you won't be able to see the water seeping through the concrete. This is because the water can be trapped under the aggregates (sand, gravel, cement).

You'll be able to identify bleeding when you do a slump test. It's important to determine whether you have normal bleeding or not, so you can fix the water-to-cement ratio and prevent any damage.

How To Fix Watery Concrete?

construction worker using trowel and mason's float for hydroisolating and waterproofing house

If you have a watery batch of concrete, don't worry—it can be fixed. After checking for slumps and consistency, add aggregate like sand or gravel to balance the water-to-cement ratio.

If it still has a watery texture, it's best to throw it out (if you made it yourself) or ask for a refund if you bought a premixed bag. Because of its porous nature, watery concrete will have a lot of pores once dried, increasing its tendency to break. 

Concrete with a lot of holes will be a struggle to work with, but you can use a liquid waterproof sealant to keep things secure. 

Check out this concrete sealer on Amazon.

People Also Asked

If you still have questions about working with concrete, we got you covered! Here are some frequently asked questions (and answers) about the topic.

Does concrete dry darker or lighter?

Concrete dries lighter. It may look dark when it's freshly made but if you give it at least seven to 10 days to cure, the color will lighten as the water evaporates.

What happens if it rains on fresh concrete?

When rain comes in contact with fresh concrete, there's a high chance that the concrete will become weak. Fresh concrete is fragile and should be left untouched while it cures.

Make sure you check the weather before starting a project that involves concrete.

Can you fix concrete after it dries?

It's possible to fix the rough edges of concrete by sanding it. However, any major damage like cracks and breakage are irreversible. 

Does watering concrete make it stronger?

One of the common methods in curing concrete is through what's known as moist curing. You simply wet the concrete slab with water five to seven times a day for a week.

It may sound strange, but this method can give the concrete a strong finish as it helps to evaporate the remaining water inside the concrete. 

Note that you shouldn't do this method with mild to extremely cold temperature as this beats the purpose of water curing.

Final Thoughts

To wrap up, concrete should be neither too watery nor too dry. To determine if your concrete is too watery, work it with your hands and feel its consistency. You should be able to mold it, like thick oatmeal. If it feels like soup, it needs more cement. 

There's a specific balance for many types of concrete, whether it's for a simple DIY project, a driveway, or a heavy-duty job like road construction. 

Remember, having too much or too little of something will result in an imbalance! Always measure your mixes before you begin to work.

If you found this post helpful, check out this related article:

Can You Pour Concrete Over Gravel?