8 Important Tips for Storage and Handling of Cement

Cement is an integral part of any construction project, and because of this, it is a common practice to purchase and store cement in bulk. It is economical and ensures a smooth flow of work. However, it is important to know the right way to store cement to ensure that cement quality is maintained throughout construction. Gharpedia, through this blog, brings you essential tips on how to store cement bags.

Why It Is Important to Store Cement Properly?

Modern Portland cement is a very finely ground material, and that makes it highly hygroscopic, which simply means it rapidly absorbs moisture not only in the form of free water but also from the air. It is therefore necessary to protect it from dampness during the time it is stored. A small reaction of cement with moisture can result in lumps in the cement bag. A lumped cement fails to provide the desired strength to the concrete construction. According to the National Council for Cement and Building Materials (NCB) field guide, cement loses its strength if not stored properly, which is demonstrated in the following figure.

Cement needs protection not only from moisture but also from rain and direct sunlight. For this, cement must be stored properly in a warehouse/go-down.

Interested in knowing how moisture affects cement bags? Read the below article:

What is the Effect of Moisture on Cement Bags?

Important Tips for Storage of Cement

Following are some basic points that one should consider while storing cement.

01. To Save the Cement from Moisture

Cement remains in good shape when kept away from moisture. Absorption of 1 to 2% of moisture has no significant effect on the quality of cement. But if moisture absorption exceeds 5%, the cement becomes useless. Hence, it is necessary to store cement in such a manner that no moisture or dampness reaches cement either from the ground or from the environment. This becomes particularly important during the humid season and in coastal regions when atmospheric air contains a higher amount of moisture in it.

  • Raised floor to Protect the Cement from Ground Moisture:

Undoubtedly, ground soil always has moisture. When you store the cement bags on the ground without any provision on the floor, the cement bags will absorb the moisture from the ground. It may create lumps in the cement. Hence, it is mandatory to stack cement bags 150 mm to 200 mm above ground on a platform made of wooden battens and planks or by other means. Also, cover the platform with an impermeable plastic sheet underneath.

  • Keep Distance from the Side Wall :

One important point to consider while storing cement is to keep a safe distance from the side walls. This ensures the isolation of cement bags from the leaky and damp walls, especially if the walls are exposed to the external atmosphere. Leave a distance of at least 600 mm between the exterior walls and the cement stacks. If possible, plaster the walls and make them damp-proof.

02. Proper Way of Stacking Cement Bags

Prepare the warehouse in such a way that it is convenient both for stacking and removing cement bags while providing enough space for movement and inspection of bags for counting purposes, etc. Leave a passage of 600 mm between individual piles for easy access.

Stack cement bags stepwise on a wooden plank so that the plank is stable and does not topple due to overloading on one side. Stack the cement bags close together to reduce the circulation of air as much as possible. Cement is a hygroscopic material that forms lumps when contacted with atmospheric air. Such hardened cement is of no use.

It is advisable to never stack more than 10 cement bags over each other, as this will lead to lumping under pressure. Sometimes it is also difficult to stack one bag over the other, as this may cause them to fall.

Arrange the bags alternately lengthwise and crosswise in stacks with more than eight bags. This makes it easier to tie the stacks together to give them better stability and minimise the danger of toppling over.

The width of the stack shall not be more than four bags in length or three meters. Cover the stacked cement bags with tarpaulin or polyethene.

03. Removal of Cement from the Warehouse

Remove the cement from the warehouse according to its storage period, i.e. follow the rule of first in, first out.

Put up a label showing its date of receipt on each stack to know the age of the cement. Check the manufacturers’ date and use the oldest stock first accordingly. Never remove all bags from the top layer. Remove bags from two or three layers in a stepped manner so that the pile is stable and will not topple.

Sometimes pressure on the bottom layer of bags causes a ‘warehouse pack or lump.’ Rolling the bags once or twice after taking out can remove these lumps easily.

Check out precautions to be taken when transporting cement bags:

5 Precautions That Should Be Taken During Cement Transport

04. Never Use Hook to Lift the Cement Bag

Do not use hooks to lift the cement bags. Using hooks is an incorrect way of handling cement bags because it pierces the bag and exposes the cement to the open atmosphere. Hence, to avoid any negative effects of atmosphere on the quality of cement, it is best to provide the workers with proper cement handling tools.

05. Protect the Cement from Chemical Effect

Never store the cement bags with fertilizers or other products, as any contamination can affect the quality and performance of the screed. It is imperative to store different types of cement separately.

06. Store Left-over Cement Carefully

Always use the cement left in torn or opened bags first. Ideally, if you have leftover or old cement, then it should be re-bagged in plastic bags or heavy duty garbage bags and the mouths of these bags must be sealed securely with string or tape.

07. Storage of Cement in Monsoon

In monsoon or in situations where you must store the cement for unusually long periods, the cement stacks should be completely enclosed by a 700-gauge (175 microns or 0.175 mm) polyethene sheet or some other water-proofing membrane materials.

Plinth level of the go down/warehouse should be higher as compared to the adjacent locations, so that water accumulating in the surroundings does not enter inside.

08. Arrangement in Cement Godown or Warehouse

  • Avoid storing cement in basements; preferably store it on the first or higher floors.
  • The entry to the warehouse should have a slope towards the outside, and under no circumstances should the level be lower or at the same level as the adjacent road.
  • The slab of the shed or go down can be either a leak-proof reinforced concrete slab or an adequately sloped, water-tight galvanised or asbestos sheet.
  • Provide small windows at sill level and keep them tightly shut. This prevents moisture or rain water from entering the shed.
  • The height of the plinth of the cement go down is important. Ensure that the bottom level of the truck is of the same height as that of the go down so that the loading/unloading operations of the bags become easy.
  • The floor of the shed should be of at least 150 mm thick densely compacted concrete slab on rubble soling. It should be on the proper line, level, and slope.
  • Check and maintain the drainage system regularly.

Take Away

Cement bags must be stored correctly to keep the material safe from moisture, direct sunlight, rain, wastage, and other factors. The materials needed for the life of the structure, such as mortar and concrete, are prepared with cement. It is critical to know how to store cement bags if you want to maintain the quality of the material. Store cement in accordance with the recommendations made in this article to guarantee high-quality cement that extends the life of constructions built with it. Do share your views, experiences, and challenges you may have had with storing cement bags.

Buying bags of cement for your construction project? Make sure to check out our guide on points to check before buying cement bags:

11 Points That You Should Always Check on a Cement Bag Before Buying It!

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