Concrete Lifting Problem Signs: Cracks in Sidewalks
When you’re talking about home problems that almost every homeowner has to deal with at some point, several problems immediately spring to mind. For example, just about every homeowner will deal with plumbing concerns eventually, whether large or small. However, you might not think to bring up sidewalk cracks, even though sidewalk cracks are extremely common. Whether you’re dealing with them right now or you just want to know how to deal with them in the future, here’s what you should know about sidewalk cracks.
Why Do Sidewalk Cracks Occur?
Why do homes experience sidewalk cracks in the first place? There are many reasons you might experience cracks in the sidewalk. These are some of the most common reasons for sidewalk cracks in a home setting.
- Soil Erosion
The first possible reason for sidewalk cracks is simple soil erosion. This is more likely to happen if you’ve had a lot of rain or flooding recently, especially if that’s uncommon for your area. Water can run underneath your sidewalk, causing the soil to run out from underneath it and allow for settling in certain areas.
From here, you can end up with serious issues regarding concrete cracking. That’s because now, you’ll have a concrete slab that doesn’t have quite enough support underneath it. The concrete slab will typically start to crack wherever the soil has eroded, which means you’re more likely to end up with cracks in the middle of slabs.
- Concrete Settling
To some extent, concrete settling is something you might just have to expect. Over time, concrete will settle where it’s sitting. The weight of the concrete and the weight of people walking along it will cause it to settle into its final resting point. This isn’t necessarily a problem unless it settles far more than it should settle.
The problem arises if the concrete settles more in one area than in another or if the concrete settles a significant amount across the slab as a whole. When one of these things happens, you’re much more likely to end up with concrete cracking problems as the concrete tries to warp itself to fit into whatever shape it’s settling into.
- Poor Preparation
This isn’t as common as the other options, but the initial construction crew can have prepared the area improperly before they poured the concrete slab. Most commonly, this occurs when the construction crew didn’t tamp down the soil well enough before pouring the concrete, which can lead to serious issues with the soil underneath the concrete.
When you have poor preparation, it’s much more likely that you’ll experience other concrete problems. That, in turn, leads to issues with concrete cracks and concrete settling. None of these things are great for your home or your concrete and poor preparation for pouring concrete can indicate other issues in the home as well.
Are Sidewalk Cracks a Problem?
Is it important for you to tackle sidewalk cracks in the first place? Although they might not feel that serious, sidewalk cracks can cause a variety of concerns or showcase concerns by themselves. These are just a few of the reasons to fix sidewalk cracks as early as possible.
- Tripping and Falling
Probably the most obvious problem that can arise with sidewalk cracks is tripping and falling. Sidewalk cracks can be surprisingly significant, which means they can cause problems for all kinds of people.
If you have anyone in your home who is elderly or who has a hard time walking, you want to fix sidewalk cracks as quickly as possible. However, it’s important to remember that tripping and falling can happen to anyone, not just people who are at higher risk. Fixing these problems should be imperative for anyone who notices them.
- Worsening Sidewalk Problems
Another important thing to think about is the fact that these sidewalk concerns will get worse over time. When you only have one or two sidewalk cracks, you can probably lift the sidewalk slab and remove the problem pretty easily. However, when you have pieces of your sidewalk that are essentially in shreds, you’re going to have to repour the sidewalk.
Your best bet when it comes to sidewalk problems is to make sure you’re tackling them early on because they’re never going to stop if you don’t intervene. Don’t just hope that the sidewalk problems will go away. Instead, make an active attempt to avoid your sidewalk problems worsening in the future.
- Aesthetic Concerns
Last but certainly not least are aesthetic concerns about your home’s sidewalk problems. Aesthetic concerns might be something you think of as unnecessary or excessive, but it’s extremely important to make sure you’re considering your home’s aesthetics in all things, including in how your sidewalks look.
This is especially important because aesthetic concerns can have a measurable impact on your home’s value. When you have a more beautiful home, your value is more likely to go up. That means fixing your sidewalk now will be more likely to result in a higher home valuation eventually, which is a great added bonus.
Why Can’t I Just Caulk Over Sidewalk Cracks?
Some homeowners wonder whether they can just add a surface-level fix for their sidewalk cracks. For example, they might consider caulking over the cracks or adding a concrete patch. These are both bad choices because they aren’t going to work for your sidewalk problems.
- A Surface-Level Fix
As you might expect, caulking and concrete patches won’t do anything. Caulking will certainly fill the hole, yes, but the material found in this sealant isn’t designed to bind closely with cement slabs. Likewise, it’s not resistant to cold or heat changes, especially when it’s surrounded by concrete. It will merely shrivel up and reveal the crack again.
While concrete patches will hold on better, they do not fix the root issue of why your sidewalk is cracking. Instead, they will hide the damage for a short while until the problem escalates, causing the cracks to branch out away from the patch and reveal themselves again. In this situation, you’ve wasted money on the patches or caulking and still need to see further help. The damage that reveals itself later may even require a full replacement of the slab.
- The Underlying Problem
If you want to get rid of the cracks, you need to lift the sidewalk and maintain its structural stability underneath. That’s because all sidewalks lie on some kind of foundation that is designed to support their weight. If the soil or substrate beneath them shifts, sinks, or is otherwise disturbed, the sidewalk needs to hold its weight and buckles under the pressure.
Because of this, a deeper fix is needed when you notice cracks. If you just fill in the surface damage, you’re not saving the concrete – you’re preventing a wayward trip or stumble now, but allowing your concrete to buckle out of sight. In short order, the sinking may cause your sidewalks to become uneven, slide out of place, or snap in half.
What Are the Different Methods of Fixing Sidewalk Cracks?
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to home repair, which includes fixing sidewalk cracks. That means there are many different methods that you might hear about for your sidewalk cracks. Here are a few of them.
- Problematic Traditional Methods
Traditional methods have been used to fix sidewalk cracks for years. However, the reason they’ve fallen out of fashion is that they’re not as beneficial as newer methods. Previous methods of fixing sidewalk cracks include slabjacking or mudjacking. This was seen as a more complete fix, allowing you to get to the root problem.
However, these approaches are far less effective and far more time-consuming. When completely revamping the slabs and their foundation as a whole, you disrupt the surrounding landscape and may cause damage to the concrete itself with this invasive solution. If the cracks are bad enough, it may be necessary anyway, but local GW experts have more clever approaches.
- Polyurethane Foam Injections
The best way to fix sidewalk cracks is with one of the newer methods: polyurethane foam injections. With polyurethane foam injections, you can lift concrete back to its initial place. You don’t need to dig up the slabs, rearrange the soil underneath them, or use any other time-consuming methods.
Instead, polyurethane foam can be injected directly into the problem, making them a great option for anyone who’s looking to raise sunken concrete to slot back into place. When you rely on a high-quality concrete lifting provider like Groundworks, you’ll end up with a better sidewalk crack fix that will last a long time.
Sidewalk Cracks Can Be a Thing of the Past with an Expert’s Help
When you have sidewalk cracks, it can be easy to write them off as inevitable. Many homeowners never fix their sidewalk cracks, resulting in a path deteriorating so completely that they end up with even more serious concerns down the road. However, you don’t have to do that. If you enlist the help of a concrete repair expert, you can have a sidewalk that looks great and performs even better.
Groundworks offers many different concrete repair services. Whether you’re looking for concrete repair services that can help you lift seriously damaged and broken concrete or you’re just hoping to avoid concrete cracks that are even worse than the ones you have right now, Groundworks is a great place to go. It’s one of the best options for concrete repair opportunities.