Cold Weather Masonry

As we move into February (already?) it is hard to believe that so far this winter Chicago has experienced just a few inches of snow.  With artic cold temperatures and blistering winds that we randomly experience, Architects and Mason Contractors still need to follow the mandatory cold weather construction practices required by the International Building Code, IBC and Building Code Requirements for Masonry Structures. View the BIA Technical Chart in this article.

Because of Chicago’s geographic location and the history of extreme cold weather here, we can have a week or two where we fluctuate between needing to enclose a scaffolding and it’s ok to work without an enclosure.  Enclosing a scaffolding is costly, so let’s not spend that money until it is absolutely necessary.  In a city north of Chicago, there would be no doubt in enclosing the scaffolding prior to the cold weather setting in.  In cities where it gets too cold to install masonry without an enclosure, there is no hesitation in providing an enclosed and heated scaffolding, it is part of the plan.  In Chicago, the mason may luck out and not need the enclosure as the weather might fluctuate.

From my experience as a mason contractor, working through many winters with enclosed scaffoldings, the wind was always a great unknown!  When you enclose a scaffolding with reinforced poly, you are basically building a temporary structure that will be exposed to all the wind that the completed building is designed to handle.  The difference is this scaffolding is temporary and moves around with the wind.  The building, when completed is a permanent structure.  So, depending on the height of the enclosure, there may be some guy wires or other temporary bracing measures that have to be implemented into its design.

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