Why Do Steps Become Unlevel?
Concrete steps in and around your home can become unlevel for a number of reasons. However, the main cause for many Florida homes has to do with soil. Sometimes soil becomes too saturated with moisture and becomes weakened. Other times, the hot Florida sun can dry the soil to the point that it is brittle and unsupportive for your concrete steps.
This means that when you see uneven, cracked, or sinking steps around your home, the problem is most likely in the soil beneath your feet. Let’s dive further into how this works.
Much of Florida is made of sandy soil, which is easily eroded by water. When rain comes into contact with sandy soil, it is far more likely to be moved and weakened. Florida experiences a high amount of rainfall each year, so soil washout is a common occurrence. If this erosion continues for long enough, gaps can open between your steps and the ground, causing the steps to experience uneven sinking or cracking.
Just as loose soils can get washed away by a storm, they can just as easily shrink and become brittle as they are dehydrated by the beating sun. In fact, they can even crack as they shrink, leaving deep chasms throughout the weakened soil. Any structures that rest on expansive soil can be left without support if the soil becomes very dry.
This happens most frequently in heavy structures such as concrete stairs because the immense weight of the concrete material exerts force on the failing soil. If left unchecked, it can lead to the structure sinking or cracking as a whole, usually in an uneven manner.
Dealing with Unlevel Steps
Once the damage has occurred, it should be dealt with quickly —the sooner, the better if you want to avoid major damages. Dealing with unlevel steps is a fairly complex undertaking that is best handled by a professional foundation repair team such as Alpha Foundations. But here’s what you can do as a homeowner.
Every repair process begins with a thorough investigation of the damage as well as the potential causes of the damage. A proper investigation will look into the root cause of the damage to your steps, as well as check for warning signs of co-occurring issues.
This is important because many of the things that can cause damage to exterior structures, like steps, can also damage your property’s foundation over time. These include:
- Cracks across steps
- Cosmetic damages
- Gaps under steps or edges
- Exposed sections of foundation
Create a Repair Solution
Once a professional has a solid understanding of your situation and what has caused this damage, they will be able to formulate a repair solution.
This repair will lift and stabilize the affected steps to make them safe again. Alpha Foundations has plenty of solutions to deal with your individual situation.
Deal with Structural Damage and Underlying Causes
Once you agree upon a course of action with one of our repair professionals, they will start by addressing the structural damage and any underlying issues that are likely to cause it to recur. For example, if your steps are uneven because of weak or marshy soil, the solution might be to install drainage to move water away from your home and deploy PolyRenewal™ foam to lift them back into place.
Why Are Unlevel Steps Dangerous?
Uneven, unstable, or damaged steps are dangerous for a number of reasons. Not only can they be a sign that more trouble is on the way, but they can also be actively harmful to you and your family (as well as anyone who visits you).
Accidents are Common on Unlevel Steps
Damaged steps that have become tilted, unstable, or uneven in any way are incredibly dangerous to anyone traversing them, particularly if they are already vulnerable. Elderly people, young children, and people who have underlying issues with mobility or depth perception, for example, will be at huge risk of falling, especially if there is no handrail.
A fall on concrete steps, even small ones, can be incredibly dangerous for anyone, but especially the elderly, who are more likely to break a bone when they fall onto a hard surface. As such, it is best to deal with unlevel or unstable concrete steps and surfaces as quickly as possible. This will save you from injury and medical costs in the long run.
Unlevel Steps Are a Sign of Foundation Damage
As well as posing a risk to your immediate health and well-being, unlevel steps are a warning sign that the structure of your property is in danger, too. After all, the most common cause of damage and sinking in concrete steps is weak soil. These issues, of course, can spread to other parts of your property.
Weak, loose, or marshy soil, for example, can cause concrete steps and driveways to sink over time. As such, it is only natural that these soils can also impact a property’s foundation and cause them to sink or subside. As such, investigating when you see damage to concrete steps may help you catch foundation problems before they get worse
How Does PolyRenewal™ Work?
The SettleStop PolyRenewal™ system utilizes a very innovative foam that is incredibly effective for concrete lifting and stabilization. The foam, made from polyurethane, is very lightweight, so it will not exacerbate soil and concrete settlement, and is also waterproof, so that it can protect the soil underneath concrete slabs against the humid and rainy Florida summers. The material can also protect chemicals from leaking into your home, such as weed killer or fertilizers. Furthermore, SettleStop PolyRenewal™ foam cures within 20 minutes, so you can reap the benefits in less than a day.
What makes the SettleStop PolyRenewal™ so effective, aside from the fact it is lightweight yet strong, waterproof, and cures quickly, is its ability to expand upon injection. Once the installation experts have drilled a hole into the problem area, the foam is injected and expands. This allows the foam to lift sunken concrete slabs from below and keep it lifted for years to come. Because this foam expands, it is also able to fill in any voids that exist within the concrete due to soil erosion by the rain. Experts only need to drill a very small hole, about the size of a penny, in order to install it. The process is minimally invasive to your property.