Navigating Winter Construction

Are there specific cold weather challenges?

Are you eager to get a construction project started? With colder temperatures settling in, there could be some challenges.

Frozen ground

Let’s start with the basics. You are looking to excavate and are worried about ground temperatures. The good news is that East Tennessee isn’t typically cold enough to cause extensive issues with frozen ground. There can be some cold spells here and there but those aren’t excessively long like the northern states. Your contractor will outline if there are any concerns about the temperature and digging.


Freezing temperatures and concrete do not mix. If night time temperatures drop below 40 degrees, then you could be compromising the integrity of your concrete. Concrete that doesn’t cure correctly can chip and break. If your concrete freezes before it fully dries, then the concrete may have to be ripped up and repoured. It is possible to heat the ground with heating blankets to prevent freshly poured concrete from freezing. That said, your concrete installation team can provide expert advice on proper timing and installation.

Drying other materials

In construction, there are lots of materials that need to dry. When temperatures are too cold, this can prevent the drying process. Caulks, adhesives, muds, and other materials can be temperature sensitive. If your construction team is advising to wait out the weather for a certain part of the process, that is because the materials may not perform as desired under specific conditions. 

You don’t want to be surprised by weather delays. If you are starting a project that will continue through the winter, talk to your construction project manager. Be sure to discuss what steps must be completed in specific weather conditions. Is there a way you can expedite some earlier steps to get the team under a roof?

Water lines

Freezing temperatures and water lines simply aren’t friends. Once water lines are installed, they need to be properly insulated before a freeze. Typically pipes won’t freeze at 32 degrees. It takes a harder freeze and temperatures typically below 20 degrees. To prevent freezing pipes, these are the best steps to follow:

  • Insulate pipes
  • Run water. Running water won’t freeze. This means you can leave water dripping in pipes to create some of the movement. Even in those conditions, you need to let the water fully run for 1-2 minutes every so often to ensure there isn’t any ice beginning to form in the pipes.
  • Get warm air around pipes. If you have pipes in a cabinetry area or a closet, open the doors. Warm air from the room will help warm up the pipes and reduce the chance of freezing.

If you are looking to start a project, MB&R Contractors is here to help. We take on residential, commercial, and industrial projects with our own in-house team. We can advise you on the best start date for your project to reduce any weather delays.