Uneven concrete isn’t pretty but it’s also a safety issue and one that should be addressed as soon as possible.
It’s best to look for signs of deterioration early and address the problem before it becomes overwhelming. This is also the most cost-efficient way to go since the longer you wait the worse the sinking will become.
Here we will explore a few early signs of trouble you should be on the lookout for. With this insight you’ll be able to schedule repairs quickly.
Signs you have an uneven driveway
There are plenty of signs that you should be aware of that will point you towards the problem with a sinking concrete slab and once you notice these you should call in the experts to help you out.
Before an uneven driveway or a sidewalk starts to tilt or buckle, it will crack. The reason for the cracks is the same as it is for the sinking, it’s about putting strain on the concrete and not being able to withstand it. Even though a concrete slab is made to withstand a large amount of pressure, it can be pushed at an angle and easily crack. If the cracks are becoming wider, this is a sign that the structural problems are becoming worse. The exposure to water could also open the cracks further and cause more damage.
Potholes or Pitting
Cracks in the driveway can sometimes be seen as a cosmetic issue, that isn’t a cause for alarm, but the same can’t be said about the potholes. They are a dangerous problem that can be a tripping hazard and can even cause damage to your vehicle.
Potholes are a sign of a serious issue with the concrete itself. They are an indication that your concrete has started to deteriorate and you’ll need to call a professional to help. Potholes can also be a hazard for those who use the driveway. They could damage the vehicle as it passes over the it. Sometimes they can also be a tripping hazard and especially so for children and the elderly.
Sometimes a concrete slab will start to sink into the ground before they become uneven. As one part of the driveway starts to sink below, the driveway will look like a staircase. For the most part, sinking of this kind is the result of trouble with the soil beneath the driveway. The fix will require you to remove the cause of the issue and not just fix the driveway. This problem can also appear in other parts of your property, like your home. It’s also likely that your neighbors will face the same issue because their homes rest on the same soil.
A good sign that you may have an uneven driveway is the existence of puddles alongside it. That’s because the concrete is made to direct the water away from the property. If there’s no such a slant and the water is being collected in the driveway there’s a sunken area beneath it. The water will settle in the middle of the sunken area and even cause it to become deeper over time, as it damages the concrete.
Puddles are often overlooked by homeowners since they don’t seem like a serious issue. However, they are good warning signs of things to come. The issue that has caused the puddle can also cause more serious damage to the concrete.
What Causes Driveways To Sink
There are many reasons driveways and sidewalks become uneven over time. The signs we mentioned above may point you in the direction of the cause, but it’s also useful to have an expert examine the driveway and look for the source of the issue.
A lot of the time, many causes are working together to create and worsen the sinking. For example, when the soil below the concrete slab starts to shift and move, so will the concrete. A similar issue can happen if the soil is washed away or if it expands.
During the dry season of the year, the soil will shrink. On the other hand, it will expand when the weather is wet and rainy. The concrete slab on top of it will slide as well and when it sits unevenly, it can break or start to sink on one side.
The following are a few other causes:
- Poorly compacted soil: When the soil is poorly compacted from the start, it won’t be a good base for the sidewalk or a driveway.
- Weather: When the weather is tough, as it is in Detroit, MI, there’s a likelihood it will affect the concrete and even make it settle or become crooked.
- Tree roots: Trees often have long and sturdy roots that grow with great force and move anything on their path.
- Excessive weight: If you put a lot of weight on the driveway it will be affected and damaged. This happens even more often with sidewalks since they are not designed to hold the weight of heavy vehicles at all.
How to Fix an Uneven Driveway
The first step is for the expert to examine your driveway and to find the cause of the issue. Once they do, they will recommend a course of action. For the most part,it’s best to stick to the solution recommended by them, since it will take into account the long term effects of such a repair.
It’s important to note how important the inspection is. Applying the wrong solution to a sunken concrete problem will make it worse in the long run. Our experts here at Foundation Systems of Michigan are experienced enough to be able to get to the bottom of the problem, however, and recommend what to do next.
Mudjacking is an invasive way to fix uneven concrete in driveways and sidewalks. It involves making holes in the concrete and getting all the way to its base and filling the space with a slummy compound. The slurry that’s injected in this manner is then used to lift the concrete up in the position. It also prevents further sinking by filling voids.
Most homeowners don’t want to use this approach because of how invasive it is. Over the years, this method was therefore abandoned in favor of using PolyRenenwal, which is far superior. Mudjacking damages the aesthetic of your driveway since the holes you need to use to inject the slurry are at least an inch wide.
It’s also not a long-term solution to the issue if the cause of the problem is the soil beneath the driveway. If the soil is poorly contracted or washed out, it will continue to sink and turn uneven after you’ve treated it with mudjacking.
Another lifting method that’s more modern, less invasive, and more commonly used these days is known as PolyRenewal. It’s similar to mudjacking, but accomplished the same effect with less damage to the property and the environment. Holes are drilled into the concrete and a substance is injected into them to lift it. The holes are much smaller and easier to fill in.
PolyRenewal is composed of polyurethane foam. It’s a much stronger material than the one used to make a mudjacking slurry. It takes less time to lift and harden, and it lasts longer than any other material used for this purpose.
PolyRenewal is eco-friendly and it won’t buckle under any pressure as time goes by. Over the years, it will strengthen the concrete under which it is used and provide protection from water damage that’s common with sidewalks and driveways. All of these features make the PolyRenewal method the only choice for a modern and future-minded homeowner.
Uneven Driveway and Sidewalk
The Dangers of a DIY Fix
Even though homeowners are encouraged to fix things up in their own homes, that’s not always the best option. Sometimes, applying common-sense solutions to a driveway repair may cause it to become more damaged and in the end, it costs you more than it should have. For instance, it’s not always a good idea to fill in the cracks that you’ve found in your driveway. Wooden plans placed beneath the driveway could also simply rot or even let the soil sink in even further. Instead, it’s best to rally on expert advice.
Fixing the mistakes made in the process can cost you more in the long run.
The Value of Professional Help
Hiring an expert to inspect the property is the best first step towards fixing up a driveway. That’s because they will be able to find the cause of the problem and figure out why your driveway is sinking. In most cases, this can be done quickly and with precision. A professional will let you know what steps you need to take in order to remove the cause of the issue and not just fix it for the time being. The inspection is free.
The experts will also have the equipment and the tools needed for the job. For instance, PolyRenewal, which is the best tool you would have to lift the concrete, isn’t sold over the counter and isn’t something a homeowner can use on their own. Mudjacking requires equipment that you can’t buy either. Hiring an expert allows you to use these tools to your advantage and to make sure they will be used properly and safely.
No homeowner likes to dig around their home and pouring chemicals into the ground doesn’t sound too fun either. However, it’s usually the best way to get the job done, and the tools used to do it have changed greatly. PolyRenewal is the tool we at the Foundation Systems of Michigan use and it’s the best one we got both in terms of efficiency and its effect on the soil.
Polyurethane is the main component of the PolyRenewal foam and it’s non-toxic enough to be a standard part of any construction project. The solution was tested and proven to be safe without any negative effects on the environment in which it’s used. The substance is also durable and easy to mold based on the needs of a particular job site.
It’s a safe substance to use around the soil since it won’t affect it in any way. Sometimes it can get in touch with the water supply but it won’t affect it either. Humans or animals are equally safe around the substance and it won’t react with the soil that makes up the garden of your home. The foam shouldn’t get into your eyes and you shouldn’t eat it, but that’s why it’s installed by professionals with the proper safety equipment in place.
Sometimes it feels only natural to fix the issue with your driveway, by removing the slab altogether and replacing it with a new one. That’s sometimes the only way to go when the damage is too great. However, it’s not always the case and a lot of the time, the right repair can do the trick.
There are two main considerations to take into account when contemplating replacing the driveway: the cost and the time it takes to do it. The existing concrete needs to be broken up and removed using heavy machinery. In some cases, that means digging in your yard and that’s messy and loud. All of this happens before you actually get to pour new concrete.
The cost of replacing the concrete can be quite high as well. It depends on how large the driveway is and what underlying issue has caused it to sink in the first place. That needs to be addressed first so that the new slab isn’t affected by it as well. Replacing the concrete will take about two to three times longer than lifting it. That said, it’s still sometimes necessary to do it.
Unlike replacing, the repairs are addressing the root cause of the issue and fixing it. That means that it’s also a solution for any future concrete trouble that may come up. All of this is done without the need to remove the concrete and cause a mess in the yard. All it takes are a few small drill holes. The repair done using PolyRenewal will take a few hours to complete.
This option is a bit more costly than the traditional mudjacking, but it’s an advanced product you’re paying for and it’s worth the difference. It’s still much less expensive than replacing the sidewalk altogether. It’s a long-lasting solution meaning that you only need to pay once and you get your sidewalk as it once was.
Call Local Experts If You’re Having a Problem with Sidewalks or Driveways
A sidewalk or a driveway that’s sinking can be a tripping hazard and it looks bad. It will also lower the value of your property. Don’t wait for the problem to get worse and more difficult to fix. Instead, call us as soon as you notice the cracks and other warning signs and schedule a free inspection to get a quote from our experts.
Our team of experienced engineers will inspect the property and figure out what’s causing the sidewalk to sink. We have done thousands of inspections across Michigan. You’ll get a written quote within a day and it doesn’t oblige you to use our services.
We use an award-winning method of lifting concrete and that’s what’s gained the trust of many homeowners in Michigan so far. Foundation systems of Michigan also offers a transparent pricing plan and a range of payment options.