Do you feel a pang of dread when young children or aging adults walk around your property? Is a section of cracking, sinking concrete bothering you? Concrete is a tough material, which is why it is widely used in constructing many things from sidewalks and driveways to home foundations and walls. But concrete is just as vulnerable to wear, tear, and damage.
Exterior concrete is especially problematic. It can showcase its damage in many ways, including sinking and unevenness. When concrete slabs do not line up because they are sinking, this not only makes your property look bad, but it is a safety hazard to anyone traversing it.
How does this happen in the first place? What can be done to fix it? Read on to learn more about why the concrete around your home may be sinking and how local repair experts at Ohio Basement Authority can help.
3 Common Causes of Sinking Concrete Slabs
The concrete around your property might be failing and giving you clues through visible sinking and unevenness. While numerous causes are possible, here are the top three common causes of sinking concrete slabs:
Improper Installation and Materials
When noticing problems with concrete, some people may be quick to blame those who installed it. This is not as common, but issues can arise with the original installation of concrete and the materials used. Concrete is a mixture of cement, water, and aggregates like sand or gravel. Problems can result if the wrong amounts are used, the concrete was not poured evenly, or it wasn’t properly cured or cut.
Concrete is strong, but to a point. If too much weight is consistently placed on concrete slabs, they can begin to give way and sink. This is common in driveways and garages, especially if a heavy vehicle is parked there for an extended period of time. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average vehicle weighs more than 4,100 pounds. This could mean a lot of stress for your property’s concrete.
The above two issues can have significant impacts on your home’s concrete, but the most common cause at the heart of sinking concrete problems is the soil underneath the slabs. When the underlying soil erodes, washes away, or settles, it cannot properly support the slabs and leaves voids the slabs can easily sink into. The type and condition of soil make a big difference, as well.
The “Dirt” on Your Property’s Soil
There is a variety of soil types throughout Ohio, and the official state soil is known as Miamian. This is a type of loam soil that is made up of fair amounts of the three main soil ingredients – sand, clay, and silt. Areas including Columbus, Cincinnati, and Lima, tend to have silty loam soil. Other areas also are notorious for soil with significant clay content.
These varying soil types and ingredients also have different drainage properties. Some may be well-drained and not have an issue with water. Others, like expansive clay, may hold onto water and constantly swell and shrink. Soil that is too well-drained can wash away, erode, and shrink. All this activity below can take its toll on concrete slabs, which rely on a stable base to remain sturdy and upright.
Additional Factor: The Weather
The weather also plays a significant role in the condition of your concrete and the underlying soil. Central and southern Ohio areas, including Dayton-Springfield, commonly experience heavy rain in spring and fall. Summers also can be quite wet, and winters have decent snow that leads to saturating snowmelts. Droughts are rare, but dry spells can cause soil to dry out and shrink.
Exterior concrete structures like sidewalks, driveways, and patios bear the brunt of Mother Nature’s wrath. Not only does excess water under and around the concrete impact its structural integrity, but water also can easily pool in areas with sinking, uneven slabs.
Problems with Sinking Concrete Slabs
As we’ve already mentioned, sinking slabs are unsightly and unsafe for your property. They impact your home’s curb appeal, which greatly matters when you are trying to sell your house. But more than that, sinking and uneven concrete slabs are tripping hazards. Young children, the elderly, and those with mobility issues are at a greater risk of taking a spill on uneven concrete and sustaining injuries. And anyone walking over sinking concrete can easily catch their feet on raised edges. Vehicular damage also could result the more your car has to negotiate bumps caused by uneven slabs.
Fixing Sinking Slabs: How Local Experts Can Help
Sinking concrete slabs can be complex, but they also have a simple solution. The earlier you notice this problem, the easier it is to fix it with a state-of-the-art repair method. To get to the heart of the problem with your concrete slabs and properly support them, the best way to address them is concrete lifting with PolyRenewal™ polyurethane injections. This lightweight, yet durable foam is injected underneath the slabs through small holes that are drilled. Once the foam expands and hardens (typically within 15 minutes), it lifts the slabs back towards their original positions.
If your home’s concrete slabs could benefit from this innovative solution, contact your local concrete experts at Ohio Basement Authority today to schedule a free inspection and repair estimate!