A well-constructed and quality concrete driveway has a life expectancy of about 30 years. However, sections of your driveway may start sinking prematurely. This can be caused by a variety of factors. When you have a sunken driveway or sidewalk, you will want to know why the problem is occurring and the right steps to take.
This information will enable you to select and employ a lasting solution to the issue. But what are the available options for repairing a sinking concrete driveway or sidewalk? Read on to find out.
What Causes a Sinking Concrete Driveway or Sidewalk?
A sinking driveway or sidewalk can be frustrating for homeowners. It can cause problems for your car and becomes a tripping hazard. Understanding how the problem arises in the first place will go a long way in helping you make smart decisions when it comes to addressing the issue.
Below are some common causes of a sunken exterior concrete slab driveway or sidewalk:
Poor Foundation or Ground Preparation
A concrete surface is only as good as the base on which it is built, and driveways undergo a lot of heavy use. When the soil on which the concrete surface rests is weak, not compacted properly, or has inadequate soil drainage, the concrete will start to sink after some time.
Cracks in your concrete driveway or sidewalks, leaking or burst pipes under the surface, and your garage downspouts can present serious problems. When water seeps into and pools under the surface, it will erode and weaken the soil beneath your driveway. Over time, the section of your driveway or sidewalk directly above the saturated ground will start to sink.
Lack of Edge Support
The edging strip that marks out your driveway and sidewalks isn’t just an attractive border. It also helps to protect the surface. When your driveway is not properly edged during the installation process, it may shift. This will result in cracking and crumbling.
If new buildings are constructed in your area before the land that your driveway or sidewalks are built on had time to settle and establish itself, the concrete surface may start to sink. For homes located in a new development area, sinking can also occur due to the use of poor quality or inadequate materials.
Nature can also play a part in causing your concrete structures to settle. If your home is built on an area that experiences gradual root growth, altering water tables, soil erosion or seismic activity, these disruptions and the resultant unstable ground may contribute to depressions on the driveway or sidewalk surface.
Why You Should Never Ignore a Sinking Concrete Driveway
The uneven surface associated with settling can compromise the overall functionality of your driveway or sidewalk. Once you notice signs of driveway subsidence, you should have the problem addressed as soon as possible for these reasons.
It Is a Safety Hazard
This is the most obvious reason why you should fix a settled driveway. Sinking driveways can be dangerous; they can lead to trips, falls, or damaged vehicles. Fixing your driveway will help to restore the safety of your property.
It Affects the Value of Your Home
Uneven driveway and sidewalk slabs are unsightly. Plus, damp, sunken cracks on the surface of your concrete can contribute to algal growth, making your driveway or sidewalk look even more decrepit. This will affect your home’s curb appeal as well as the resale value of the property. Repairing damaged concrete is a great way to give your home a facelift.
The Problem Will Get Worse
If left unrepaired, settled concrete can develop into a more serious problem. Water pooling on the concrete surface will contribute to further structural damage. Also, as more water seeps into the surface through the cracks, it will further erode the soil underneath and make it less compact, leading to more sinking.
It May Affect Your Home’s Foundation
When the driveway or sidewalk is next to your home, it may provide a path through which water will flow into your crawl space, basement, or concrete slab. If the issue is not corrected in good time, water intrusion will wash away the supporting soil beneath the foundation and cause structural cracks, mold and wood rot, or a sinking concrete slab. Fortunately, a sunken concrete driveway can be easily repaired.
What Will Provide a Lasting Solution?
When it comes to sinking concrete, there are a few repair options available. These include mud jacking, partial concrete replacement, and polyurethane foam injection. Unfortunately, mud jacking often leads to the same issues as before as the mud dries and becomes just as weak as the previous soil.
Concrete replacement also fails to address the original issues that caused sinking in the first place. While it might look nice for a while, the fresh concrete will eventually sink again. When compared to traditional mudjacking and concrete replacement, polyurethane is more effective both in terms of cost and durability. At Alpha Foundations, we use a polyurethane material called PolyRenewal™ to lift and level concrete driveways and sidewalks.
Our SettleStop PolyRenewal™ solution works to stabilize both the concrete slabs above and the soil beneath. The foam injected through the slabs fills any voids, gaps, or other damage in the concrete and extend down to the soil to strengthen there as well. You might be concerned that this solution will leach harmful chemicals in your soil. While it does bolster the soil against washout, it is also made up of eco-friendly materials that will not harm your soil nor poison the water that flows through it. It will not affect your lawn or landscaping in any way. One of its biggest benefits also lies in its quick cure time. In just 15 minutes, you will be able to walk on your concrete and get back to your regular routine.
Typically, the average homeowner will be able to tell when their concrete is sinking and uneven. You will see parts of the concrete that are sinking into the soil more than others. This isn’t the only damage your concrete will face, either. This concrete damage can also affect your foundation and impact the rest of your home. You might find your floor starting to sag or your doors and windows getting stuck.
If you want a fairly simple way to tell if your concrete slabs have become uneven, all you have to do is wait for rain. Thankfully, rain is quite common in Florida. Normally, puddles form on even concrete slabs during a storm. However, they quickly drain away from the concrete through cracks in the concrete. If you notice pools of water sticking around days after a storm, then your concrete has become uneven.
Unfortunately, it is not always easy to spot when the concrete has become uneven, which can make foundation damage that much harder to prevent. Taking advantage of Alpha Foundations free concrete inspections can definitely help out. You can get an expert opinion on how to handle your sunken concrete.
Your foundation is not the only concrete structure that is impacted by moisture or washout. The other concrete slabs that make up your sidewalk, driveway, and other structures will be just as vulnerable to this moisture damage, too. Soil washout is the most common cause of settling or cracked slabs around your home. Unfortunately, many homeowners may focus on protecting the concrete above and neglect the soil underneath because they are unaware of the importance of this supporting soil.
Florida’s consistent rain patterns don’t help either. The constant washout of your soil can also cause the remaining soil to dry out much faster, which makes the soil shrink in size. This causes the slabs to settle even deeper. You should then take measures to protect both the concrete slabs and the soil to prevent this from happening. Calling the concrete experts at Alpha Foundations is your best bet.
Consider hiring professionals to fix the problem. Alpha Foundations is a foundation repair company serving Florida and Georgia. With nearly 20 years of experience in the industry, you can trust us to provide quality solutions for raising your sinking concrete.
Contact us today to learn more and to get a free quote.