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Concrete bleeding

good or bad?
A few notes on:
• When bleeding is
desirable
• When it should be
avoided

AND WHY

or many years experts in

F concrete technology have


advised that bleeding of con-
crete be limited as much as
possible. Nevertheless, a great deal
of concrete is placed each year
which contains an admixture that
purposefully increases the amount
of bleeding experienced. Just what Loss of paste-to-aggregate bond due to excessive bleeding
are the pros and cons?
First, let’s define some terms.
Bleeding is the physical migration of
water in concrete toward the top
s u rf a c e. Water gain is the total f o rc e s. It would include, for exam- Bleeding may be desirable un-
amount of water which migrates to ple, the water of hydration, water der some circumstances
the surface or is caught by physical combining with the cement; ab- Bleeding may not be objection-
obstructions within the mix (such as sorbed water, water taken up by able under some circumstances or it
aggregate particles) as a result of p o rous aggregates; and absorbed may even be desirable. For example,
bleeding. water, water being held on the sur- when a hydroxylated carboxylic
Concrete is placed with a great face of aggregate particles by a acid water-reducing admixture is
deal more water than is necessary physical attraction. used, the amount of bleeding is
for the hydration of the cement. Mobile water includes all the wa- considerably increased. If the con-
This extra water is sometimes re- ter in a mix that is not physically or crete is to be revibrated, this will
ferred to as “water of convenience.” chemically held in one position. permit the contractor to use a con-
It is added to the mix to render it Mobile water is free to migrate with- crete mix which is highly placeable;
sufficiently workable to make it pos- in the mix when acted upon by such and yet the bleeding of the water
sible to place and thoroughly con- forces as segregation and placing from the mix will reduce the water
solidate it. techniques. content of the mix to a reasonable
There are several types of water It is the mobile water which fur- level, and the revibration will thor-
in concrete if we categori ze them nishes the water for bleeding. If the oughly reconsolidate the concrete.
according to the physical or chem- amount of mobile water in a mix is Controlled bleeding is some-
ical actions in which they are tak- relatively small, the amount of times desirable when floor slabs are
ing part. The total water in the mix bleeding that can be expected is al- being placed during hot, dry weath-
can be broadly divided into immo- so small. Co n ve r s e l y, a great er. The bleeding provides enough
bile water and mobile water. Im- amount of mobile water within a water at the slab surface to proper-
mobile water is that which is being concrete mixture increases the like- ly finish the concrete; it also re-
held by either chemical or physical lihood of considerable water gain. duces the possibility of developing
the rubbery surface often experi- increasing the ratio of surface area mal setting mixes.
enced when placing thin slabs in of the solids to the water reduces the Jobsite practices can also have an
arid climates. amount of bleeding and water gain. important bearing on the amount of
Most authorities, howe ve r, feel This can be done by (1) increasing bleeding that will take place. Natu-
that bleeding is a phenomenon the cement content while keeping rally it is imperative that no water be
which should be avoided or mini- the unit water content constant; (2) added to the mix after it is delive re d
mized in most construction situa- increasing the cement/water ratio to the jobsite. Excessive vibration
tions. Concrete with a great deal of (by lowering the water content); (3) will also result in segregation and
mobile water tends to segregate as it employing a finer cement; and/or increased water gain.
stands in the plastic state. The larg- (4) increasing the proportion of fine
er aggregates and larger cement aggregate. The first listed method is Matters for further checking
particles gravitate toward the bot- the only one which does not have a If excessive bleeding is experi-
tom of the mix with the finer aggre- detrimental effect on the workabili- enced despite the efforts of the mix
gates and cement particles together ty of the concrete. If a higher degree designer, ready mix producer, and
with lightweight materials in the of workability must be achieved, the c o n t ra c t o r, these are some of the
mix, moving toward the top surface. mix designer should consider the matters which should be checked:
This results in a layer of diluted ce- use of air entrainment; a finely di- the gradation, surface texture, and
ment paste and laitence at or near vided mineral aggregate; and/or a p ro p o rtioning of the coarse and
the surface. Frequently, the top sur- w a t e r- reducing admixture, not of fine aggregates. If a deficiency exists
face (as in a floor slab) is the portion the hydroxylated carboxylic acid in this respect, determine if it can
of the concrete which is exposed to type. be overcome by adding finely-di-
the greatest wear, weathering, and There are other mix design and vided mineral aggregates if there is
other harmful exposures. In con- materials selection considerations a shortage of fines, or by removing
crete placements for a wall or other that have an effect on bleeding. Cer- peak size aggregate sizes or blend-
vertical member, this weakened sur- tain brands of cement increase the ing sands. When a surface texture
face can result in a poor bond be- tendency of concrete to bleed. characteristic is at fault, aggregates
tween individual lifts. Harsh aggregates and aggregates from a different deposit should be
Another serious problem with ex- with a shortage of fines also can used, if possible. Recheck the mix
cessive bleeding is the collection of cause bleeding. Smooth surfaced, design for water content and
water beneath large aggregate parti- nonabsorbent aggregates can in- amount of sand used. Add an air-
cles, reinforcing bars, and other ob- crease the amount of mobile water entraining agent and a non-bleed-
structions to the upward migration in a mix by reducing the amount of ing inducing water- re d u c i n g
of the bleed water. This results in absorbed water attracted to its sur- admixture.
voids, poor aggregate-to-paste faces. Mixes that are undersanded Cooperation between the ready
bond, and lowered bond strength of or oversanded, or which have a high mix producer and the contractor
the concrete to the reinforcement. unit water content, also are likely to can produce concrete that is work-
(See photograph). bleed. able enough for easy placing and
Taking into consideration all fac- finishing and yet which will not
tors, under the great majority of Water gain causes bleed excessively.
construction situations it is desir- It must be kept in mind that re-
able to limit bleeding as much as t a rding admixture s, by keeping
possible. How is this accomplished? c o n c rete in the plastic state PUBLICATION #C710133
The first step is taken while design- longer, will result in greater water Copyright © 1971, The Aberdeen Group
ing the mix. Tests have shown that gain than is experienced in nor- All rights reserved