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Poorly Compacted Soil

The way the soil is compacted in your foundation affects many areas of your home. How can poorly compacted soil negatively affect you?

Dry soil

Poorly Compacted Soil Causes

Concrete might seem pretty indestructible from the outside, but it is just as susceptible to wear and damage as anything else. Most concrete is supported by compacted soil that keeps it level.

When that soil is poorly compacted or washes away, however, this will make the concrete shift or even break. What causes soil to become poorly compacted in the first place? Can you somehow recompact the soil back together to fix it?

What to Look out For

Because the soil rests directly underneath the concrete, many homeowners will not even know that something is wrong with their concrete until it is too late. What are some problem signs you need to keep an eye out for to prevent these issues from worsening? 

  • Uneven Concrete

Uneven concrete can be a sign that the soil underneath has partially shifted or been washed away in a storm. This can present a tripping hazard for both you and anyone else that walks by your house.

You may also notice that the concrete slabs leading up your driveway are also a tad uneven. This is because, during colder weather, the concrete slabs will contract and open the joints between them more. If you live in a city with a largely damp climate, snow or heavy rainfall will wash pebbles, dirt, or other debris into these joints.

When the snow melts and rain evaporates in warmer weather, the slabs will then expand back to normal. Unfortunately, the slabs cannot compress properly due to the debris trapped within their joints. This leads the slabs to then expand up your driveway instead, creating an uneven structure. This phenomenon, known as street creep, can eventually press up against your home. The pressure from these slabs can create all sorts of costly foundational problems. 

  • Fractures or Leaking

Concrete is a porous substance that can absorb moisture quite easily. If the concrete takes on enough water, it may start to leak down into your basement. These leaks could also be caused by misaligned pipes that need to be straightened out again. However, if leaking persists despite repairs to your pipes, then it is likely due to water seeping through the concrete itself.

It is best to fix these leaks as soon as you notice them. In a severe storm, these seemingly inconsequential leaks might lead to flooding in your basement. Cracks of any size can also contribute to flooding. They are also signs of concrete or foundational problems lurking just below the surface. If left to expand, these cracks will create serious problems for the rest of your home’s infrastructure as well, including but not limited to:

  • Flooding
  • Rotted wood
  • Mold growth
  • Attraction of pests
  • Electrical outages or other issues

What Causes Soil to Be Poorly Compacted?

Most of the time, issues with cracked concrete can be traced back to poorly compacted soil. The soil surrounding your foundation is especially loose. Often, this soil will either absorb too much water or simply wash away. How exactly does poorly compacted soil contribute to concrete issues? What causes this soil to worsen even further? 

  • Moisture Absorption

When a home’s foundation is first constructed, a giant hole is dug into the soil. The foundation itself and your basement walls and floor are then built within the hole, leaving enough space around to backfill in again with part of the soil. This overturned soil will almost always remain porous and loose afterward.

During storms or heavy snowfall, this looser soil is likely to absorb more water than it is capable of holding. This can create hydrostatic pressure up against your concrete. In turn, the combined pressure from the backfilled soil and water can cause the concrete slabs to move or fracture.

The soil may even cause water to seep through concrete pores and into your basement. Excess amounts of soil or water trickling in may cause the concrete to shift or fracture over time. Even if the initial pressure is not quite enough to cause your concrete to crack, it may prove detrimental in cooler weather. The water is likely to freeze into ice and expand within the pores, which might cause the concrete to then crack. 

  • Clay Bowl Effect

The clay bowl effect is a direct and unavoidable consequence of foundation construction. The backfilled soil surrounding the foundation cradles it in a sort of “bowl” shape.

This “bowl” of soil does not have to be mainly comprised of clay. Rather, the effect applies to any loose soil that can be easily washed away in heavy rainfall. This can create voids within the soil structure that rainwater will temporarily fill instead. Once the rain evaporates or drains away, however, the concrete is no longer supported and will start to settle. Settling can cause the concrete to become uneven or to crack.

Unfortunately, the clay bowl effect is not something most homeowners are equipped to prevent on their own. Many homeowners may not even notice there is an issue with their concrete at all since the problem lies underneath the concrete itself.

It takes a trained concrete or foundation expert to detect these subtle issues. It is also a good idea to have a yearly inspection of these problem areas. This can ensure that your concrete remains level.

Solutions That Fit Into Your Life

How Concrete Lifting Can Help

Uneven or fractured concrete will easily worsen if you leave it be. It is important to implement a secure concrete lifting solution to level out your concrete once more. What method of concrete lifting works best? 

  • The PolyRenewal™  Solution

Unlike other concrete lifting solutions, PolyRenewal™ can permanently lift your concrete so it remains steady and level. This solution is made up of a lightweight, high-density polyurethane foam pumped underneath the slabs to provide the concrete solid support. It can also fill in any crack found within the concrete.

This solution can gather and better compact the soil underneath so it does not absorb too much moisture. PolyRenewal™ is also waterproof, so the soil will not wash out nor degrade even in the most severe storms. Its installation is quick-drying, so you will be able to walk along your concrete mere hours afterward!

Poorly Compacted Soil FAQs

Although SettleStop PolyRenewal™ is quickly becoming the most well-known way to lift concrete, it’s not the only option out there. Other concrete lifting solutions include mudjacking, which is also called slabjacking, and total slab replacement. However, there are problems with these concrete lifting solutions, which is one of the reasons homeowners have started to move more toward SettleStop PolyRenewal™.

  • Mudjacking or Slabjacking

For many years, mudjacking or slabjacking was the most well-known method of fixing concrete sinking. However, it’s an extremely messy process that can leave patched holes in your concrete. Its extreme weight will also drag your concrete down and make it uneven again.

As you can see, even though it’s traditional, this option is very clunky and difficult to use. That means it’s not a great choice now that there are better alternatives.

  • Total Slab Replacement

Total slab replacement can be helpful if your concrete is broken beyond repair. However, as a method of just fixing concrete sinking, it’s both expensive and time-consuming. The new slabs can take days or even weeks to properly cure, and the soil underneath will not be improved at all.

Complete slab replacement might be beneficial in some areas, but it’s not in many others. When you’re looking for the best way to lift concrete, slab replacement isn’t the right option.

  • Reasons to Choose AquaStop PolyRenewal™

The SettleStop PolyRenewal™ solution is special in that it’s easy to apply, quick to cure, and effective in fixing the problem. Plus, SettleStop PolyRenewal™ won’t degrade over time, doesn’t compromise the soil underneath it, and is waterproof.

As you can see, SettleStop PolyRenewal™ is one of the best options for you to utilize. It’s a much more cost-effective solution for concrete sinking, and it’ll permanently lift and stabilize your home’s concrete.

If you’re a DIY fiend, you’ve probably considered just fixing the cracked concrete yourself. Although this might seem like a useful way to get the most out of your money, it’s just going to cause a lot of wasted time and energy. DIY fixes, quite simply, are not as effective as expert fixes. You’ll quickly come to understand this if you make the mistake of trying to DIY your concrete cracks.

  • The Problem with DIY Fixes

The main problem with trying to DIY your concrete fixes is that it’s much more difficult than you probably think. Concrete repairs are not as simple as covering the cracks with plaster or other materials. These cracks are often a sign of larger issues within your foundation itself.

Most homeowners just don’t have the equipment to properly repair their foundations, which means you’re likely not going to fix the real problems. That can lead to more expensive and more time-consuming repairs in the future.

  • Getting Help from an Expert

Leaving concrete lifting and repair to the experts is your best option. They will offer you permanent solutions so you never have to worry about uneven or cracked concrete or foundational issues ever again.

Not only does this mean that you won’t accidentally create a worse problem in your home, but it also means you can rest assured the problem will get a fix. Talk to a Groundworks expert to learn more about your options for repairing your home’s cracked and uneven concrete.

Many homeowners will be familiar with using fast-drying plasters or caulk to fix small holes or other issues around their house. That means you might wonder whether you could just use plaster or caulk to patch up the cracks in your concrete. The unfortunate truth is that just using plaster or caulk won’t fix the problems you’re experiencing.

  • A Temporary Solution

In some situations, plaster and caulk is a permanent fix, especially when the problem is relatively small. However, when it comes to cracks within your concrete, these solutions will only provide temporary relief.

This temporary relief is a problem because when you’re having concrete cracks, the cracks are not the main problem. They’re just an indication of the underlying problem.

  • Doesn’t Tackle the Underlying Issue

This is the main problem with using plaster or caulk to patch up fractures in your concrete. At the end of the day, it just straight-up doesn’t tackle the real problem that you’re experiencing.

Remember, most frequently, the problem has to do with the soil underneath your cracking concrete. If you’re not managing the cracking concrete itself, you’re not going to fix the cracks.

  • Fixing Your Problem Permanently 

The process of fixing the concrete problems is much more difficult than you probably think, which means you need a way to fix the problem for good. You almost certainly can’t fix your problems as easily as you think you can.

It’s a good idea to hire a concrete expert to take a look at any uneven or cracked concrete issues your home is having. An expert can repair these issues in the most efficient and permanent manner possible.

Leave Heavy Concrete Lifting to the Professionals

Seeing cracks splintering along your concrete can be quite troubling. Not only are they unsightly, but they are often signs of more serious issues hidden beneath the surface. Most homeowners are not well equipped to deal with such matters on their own.

Concrete lifting experts will have the right tools and skills to repair any uneven or cracked concrete for you. By implementing a foolproof PolyRenewal™ solution, your concrete will remain upright and level for years to come.

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Disclaimer: “Concrete leveling” means the process by which cracked, uneven concrete is stabilized, and in many cases lifted, by means of PolyRenewal™ polyurethane foam. Groundworks does not guarantee that PolyRenewal™ can make your concrete perfectly level.