Bleeding in concrete is sometimes referred as water gain. It is a particular form of segregation, in which some of the water from the concrete comes out to the surface of the concrete, being of the lowest specific gravity among all the ingredients of concrete. Bleeding is predominantly observed in a highly wet mix, badly proportioned and insufficiently mixed concrete. In thin members like roof slab or road slabs and when concrete is placed in sunny weather show excessive bleeding.
Due to bleeding, water comes up and accumulates at the surface. Sometimes, along with this water, certain quantity of cement also comes to the surface. When the surface is worked up with the trowel, the aggregate goes down and the cement and water come up to the top surface. This formation of cement paste at the surface is known as “Laitance”. In such a case, the top surface of slabs and pavements will not have good wearing quality. This laitance formed on roads produces dust in summer and mud in rainy season.
Water while traversing from bottom to top, makes continuous channels. If the water cement ratio used is more than 0.7, the bleeding channels will remain continuous and un segmented. These continuous bleeding channels are often responsible for causing permeability of the concrete structures. While the mixing water is in the process of coming up, it may be intercepted by aggregates. The bleeding water is likely to accumulate below the aggregate. This accumulation of water creates water voids and reduces the bond between the aggregates and the paste.
The above aspect is more pronounced in the case of flaky aggregate. Similarly, the water that accumulates below the reinforcing bars reduces the bond between the reinforcement and the concrete. The poor bond between the aggregate and the paste or the reinforcement and the paste due to bleeding can be remedied by re vibration of concrete. The formation of laitance and the consequent bad effect can be reduced by delayed finishing operations.
Bleeding rate increases with time up to about one hour or so and thereafter the rate decreases but continues more or less till the final setting time of cement.
Prevention of Bleeding in concrete
- Bleeding can be reduced by proper proportioning and uniform and complete mixing.
- Use of finely divided pozzolanic materials reduces bleeding by creating a longer path for the water to traverse.
- Air-entraining agent is very effective in reducing the bleeding.
- Bleeding can be reduced by the use of finer cement or cement with low alkali content. Rich mixes are less susceptible to bleeding than lean mixes.
The bleeding is not completely harmful if the rate of evaporation of water from the surface is equal to the rate of bleeding. Removal of water, after it had played its role in providing workability, from the body of concrete by way of bleeding will do good to the concrete.
Early bleeding when the concrete mass is fully plastic, may not cause much harm, because concrete being in a fully plastic condition at that stage, will get subsided and compacted. It is the delayed bleeding, when the concrete has lost its plasticity, which causes undue harm to the concrete. Controlled re vibration may be adopted to overcome the bad effect of bleeding.