Sunday, August 2nd, 2020 by CJ Garcia
Most of us want to be proud of the way our homes look – something real estate professionals call “curb appeal.” It’s important because it impacts how we feel about our homes and neighborhoods. It’s especially vital when you’re thinking about selling your home. Few things can detract quicker from our curb appeal than a crumbling, cracked sidewalk.
When you have a sidewalk slab, decking around your pool or part of your driveway that is sinking or heaving, it can erode your peace of mind. The bad news is that it won’t go away on its own or get better with time. The good news is that once you understand the cause, you will find that there are faster, simple, and less costly options that having new concrete poured.
Concrete is a versatile construction material. It is great at withstanding an enormous amount of weight. That’s why it’s used for foundations, driveways, and sidewalks. Concrete is strong and durable, however, it also has a low tensile strength. Which is another way of saying it’s brittle. Concrete’s brittleness shows up when you put weight on it and there’s nothing underneath to support it. Many times, this causes the concrete to sink and become uneven.
A common reason for a crumbling, cracked sidewalk is poor soil conditions. Certain types of fill soil like clay absorb more water than other types of dirt. If the fill soil underneath your concrete isn’t compacted properly, it could absorb water and swell at different rates and shift beneath your concrete slabs.
Settlement cracks occur when the soil beneath the concrete moves. And when the cracks multiply and grow, they can lead to other problems.
During drought conditions or even just times of warm weather and low precipitation, the soil under your slab will dry out and shrink. That shrinking creates voids or spaces under your slab and reduces the support for the concrete. The concrete above eventually cracks and sinks into voids. Those gaps eventually lead to a crumbling, cracked sidewalk, driveway, or patio. If the situation continues, you might be looking at replacing large areas of concrete.
Let’s talk for a minute about the good kinds of cracks. The intentional ones that are put into your slab of concrete, especially sidewalks and driveways, are called “control joints.” They are there to allow concrete to move and control the amount of potential cracking. But, if these joints aren’t properly sealed, that can be an access point for water.
After periods of dryness, the rains eventually come back. Often, all at once. When the rain returns, that water has an even easier pathway under the slab due to cracks and crevices left behind from a drier time. The soil under your slab washes away or becomes too wet and soft to support the concrete above it. More washout. More wet, weak soil. More void.
Water can also swell clay-rich soil and the expansion can cause a sidewalk to heave, which stresses the concrete in an entirely different way. If you’ve walked your dog around the neighborhood at night and caught your toe on a slab of concrete that was sticking up higher than the one next to it, you likely have a few other choice names for it.
The best way to combat these three causes of concrete erosion is to level it, then seal it.
TerraFirma offers a simple, quick, and highly effective way to repair your sunken, cracked driveway, patio, pool deck, or sidewalk. Our concrete leveling technology is made of polyurethane and it is an incredibly strong, yet incredibly lightweight material. That means it can lift and level your concrete without adding extra weight to the soil beneath. Better yet, it fills voids and compacts underlying soil, which stabilizes your concrete for years to come. Neither mudjacking nor concrete replacement can accomplish this.
So what are you waiting for? Schedule your free evaluation of your uneven concrete with TerraFirma today!