Having an aesthetically pleasing property free of worry is a dream scenario for many homeowners. Like anything within a household, from appliances to the roof, maintenance and upkeep is crucial. The same goes for exterior concrete structures like driveways.
Concrete driveways can fall victim to problems like pitting, flaking, chipping, cracking, and settling just like all concrete structures. While some homeowners may choose to ignore these problems or put off driveway repair, this is not a good approach. Not only can an uneven, failing driveway be a tripping hazard, it also can lead to severe vehicle damage and impact your home’s value.
As soon as you notice problems with your driveway, your best bet is to reach out to local concrete lifting experts for assistance. It will never be easier or cheaper to take on driveway repair than it is right now before the concrete’s condition worsens.The longer you neglect repairing an uneven driveway, any repair work could end up being even more extensive and costly.
The professionals at FSM are here to help with your driveway repair needs. Our team can diagnose what’s happening with your driveway and tailor a solution to best meet your repair needs. This includes using a state-of-the-art concrete lifting solution called PolyRenewal™. Read on to learn more about this revolutionary repair method and how you can benefit from its installation on your property.
The Benefits of Concrete Lifting for Driveway Repair
Concrete driveway slabs can suffer damage for a variety of reasons including weather and initial construction conditions. But the cause boils down to the soil underneath the slabs. No matter how soil becomes unstable and no longer able to support the concrete driveway above, it will sink, leave a void, and the concrete itself will sink as well.This can present several problems, which is why it is in your best interest to contact a concrete lifting professional as soon as possible to lift the concrete. Here are just a few of the ways you will benefit from investing in driveway repair.
1. Property Aesthetics and Value are Restored
Whether you are a homeowner who takes pride in your property’s appearance, a home with a cracking and uneven driveway just looks bad. But when the concrete has been lifted, it restores your home’s curb appeal. Plus, this can also impact the value and sale of your home. Instead of driving up to a property with problems like a damaged driveway, buyers are much more willing to invest in an attractive home that is free of issues.
2. Concrete and Soil Stability is Enhanced
Not only will concrete lifting make your driveway more level, but it is also a long-term stabilization solution for the slabs as well. The soil underneath also is less likely to be loose or wash out, so its stability also is enhanced.
3. Personal and Vehicular Safety is Protected
Uneven concrete in a driveway can be a significant hazard to the elderly, young children, and anyone with mobility issues. It also can severely damage your vehicle if you repeatedly drive over unlevel slabs or large potholes. When the driveway has been lifted and the slabs are even, it will be much safer for anyone walking or driving over the area.
Your Repair Options: PolyRenewal™ vs. Mudjacking
If you catch damage to your driveway in time, it should be fairly easy to repair it. Otherwise, if it is in an extreme state of disrepair, your only option may be a complete repour. This can be expensive, and you will not have access to your driveway while the concrete cures. This can take several days.
So, what are your other repair options? Traditionally, concrete driveway repair has been accomplished by mudjacking. This is a dated and less effective method, however. A more affordable and reliable solution is to use polyurethane injections to lift the concrete. Let’s explore each of these repair methods so you have a better idea of what your options are.
Mudjacking – also known as slabjacking – is the oldest form of concrete lifting. The process involves contractors drilling holes into the sinking concrete driveway and then pumping a mixture of cement, sand, and mud underneath. This mixture fills any void between the sinking soil and concrete slab, and it continues to be pumped into the voids until there’s enough to lift the concrete. The holes are then filled in and covered up to minimize the appearance of work performed.
While this has been the tried-and-true method for years, it is not an affordable or effective way to lift a sinking driveway. First, it is quite invasive. The holes that need to be drilled into the driveway are the size of soda cans, and depending on the extent of damage, several of these holes may be required for the installation. When the slurry is pumped underneath, it typically forms a cone as it attempts to fill the void between the soil and the slab, but it does not do much to fill the entire void. That means there are several areas of the concrete driveway that will still not be properly supported.
Concrete is heavy, and since the primary ingredient of the slurry is cement, the mixture pumped under the slab also will be thick and heavy. This does not do anything to address the sinking soil underneath, and it can even cause the soil and concrete slab above to sink further. This also is a repair solution that may last five to 10 years at best, so repeated installations every few decades would be required in attempt to keep the driveway level.
It often takes any mixture involving cement to cure, so you could be without use of your driveway for several hours or even several days.
PolyRenewal™ Polyurethane Injections
With innovative technology and the use of better materials, concrete lifting has come a long way as repair methods have evolved. Instead of employing an invasive, short-term fix like mudjacking, the best way to handle driveway repair is with PolyRenewal™ polyurethane injections.
The concept is the same as mudjacking – drilling holes into the concrete and pumping a lifting material underneath the slabs – but concrete lifting with polyurethane foam is a more reliable alternative that is better for your home, your wallet, and the environment.
With this method, small holes only about the size of a penny are drilled into the concrete driveway slabs. Instead of a heavy substance, lightweight but durable polyurethane foam is then injected underneath to expand and entirely fill the void between the soil and the slab. This allows the slab to lift until it is level with the other slabs.
PolyRenewal™ only takes about 15 minutes to cure to the point where you can begin using your driveway again, and it will be fully cured within an hour of its installation. This repair method also will not compact the soil underneath, wash out, or leach harmful chemicals into the soil, and it is a long-term solution.
Damage to your driveway can be caused by many things, but they generally fall into the categories of defects or climate problems. Defects are issues either with the concrete mix itself or with the way it was laid. Concrete that has used a heavily sand-based aggregate, for example, or that has too much (or too little) water can become weak, unstable, or even crumbly.
For example, cosmetic damage like spalling, flaking, and pitting are most often caused by miscalculations in the concrete mix or improper laying methods. Hard troweling is also a common cause of spalling and stains in concrete driveways. Climate and environmental factors, however, can cause damage to even the healthiest of concrete surfaces or driveways. The most common are:
- Freeze/Thaw Cycles
Repeated freezes and thaws can cause serious issues for any concrete surface, but your driveway is most at risk because of how exposed it is to the cold, rain, and snow. It only takes one hard winter to cause the kind of small amounts of damage that will snowball over time.
Managing this can be hard, especially because some thawing or de-icing products contain chemicals that can actually cause cosmetic issues like bubbling and pitting. Managing the soil saturation on your property and keeping your driveway clear of snow as much as possible is a good start, however.
- Erosion/Soil Washout
Erosion and soil washout are fairly serious issues that can impact your property as a whole. However, your driveway is likely to show the first signs of erosion because of its exposed nature. Soil washout is generally caused by adverse weather conditions and weak, loose, or unhealthy soil. Over time, this can cause sections of your driveway and even your property to start subsiding.
The best way to manage this issue is by caring for the soil on your property and employing proper drainage options.
- Weak or Expansive Soil
Even if it is not experiencing erosion, weak soil can be dangerous to your property, including your driveway. While weak, marshy, or unstable soil can shift and lead to unevenness and cracking in your driveway, expansive soils can cause it to heave or sag as a result of extreme dehydration or saturation.
Managing moisture levels in your soil is the best way to avoid damage to your driveway, and indeed, your property, from expansive soils.
Of course, whatever the cause of cracking, sinking, or spalling to your driveway, it will require professional intervention to repair the issue once it has taken root. Concrete lifting services are just one of the potential ways to address this issue.
Damage to your concrete driveway can take several forms that fall into the categories of cosmetic and structural in nature. Cosmetic damage is unpleasant to look at but generally not dangerous to the stability and usability of your driveway.
Of course, it can still be dangerous to you individually over time. Spalling and pitting, for example, could present a tripping hazard, especially to elderly people or young children. Structural damage to your driveway, by contrast, covers issues like spreading cracks, sinking, and crumbling. These issues can render your driveway unusable over time and may even damage your car if you try to drive over it.
The most common problem signs of damage to your driveway are:
Spalling, sometimes called scaling, is a process of concrete breakaway that can result in the surface of your driveway becoming rough, uneven, and vulnerable to saturation. This can be spotted by the round or oval-shaped chunks of concrete that come loose from your driveway.
Like scaling and spalling, flaking is a form of cosmetic damage that sees chunks of a concrete surface breaking away. Unlike with spalling, however, flaking tends to involve broad, slim flakes of concrete separating from the main surface.
Pitting can be recognized by a pattern of small holes spreading across a concrete surface. A driveway that is badly pitted could be said to have a texture reminiscent of orange peel.
Sinking is a sign of fairly advanced structural issues in any concrete surface, even your driveway. If it has started to tilt to one side or chunks are breaking away to sink into the ground and form craters, eroding or weak soil is a likely cause.
Crumbling is a fairly easy-to-spot issue that tends to start at the outer edge of a driveway and work its way inward. It can often be seen alongside spreading cracks.
Spotting the signs of damage early is a good thing in any situation, of course, and driveway damage is no different at all. Each of these signs of damage can generally be connected to one of two causes that could have implications for your wider home.
No, concrete lifting is a specialized job that requires experience and the right tools (as well as a certain level of skill) to ensure that you get the best possible results.
- You Need Specialist Products
As with many structural repairs, there are many concrete lifting products that will not be available in your local hardware store. PolyRenewal™ polyurethane foam is an example of these kinds of specialist products. As well as requiring a lot of experience, this solution requires special tools for installation. These tools can be expensive to purchase and difficult to use for those without the proper training and experience.
If you try to install these products without the right tools and experience, you could cause injury to yourself and anyone helping you. Beyond this, however, it is actually more expensive for you to seek out specialist tools or products as a non-professional than it would be to simply hire a professional who has the skills and experience already.
- Improper Lifting Causes More Harm Than Good
If you do try to do this alone, you run the risk of potentially making the issues worse. PolyRenewal™, for example, is a two-part system that allows for customization. This makes it very useful to a professional and very dangerous to an amateur. This is a chemical substance that expands and sets quickly once it is deployed. If you mix the foam improperly and it over-expands, it can cause your driveway to buckle upward. It also cures quickly, so once it is in place, it is hard to get rid of.
If this happens, you will not only have to call a professional to lift your driveway, but these experts may have to remove the foam or correct any mistakes before they can restore your driveway. As such, it is really better to let a professional in your area deal with your driveway lifting from the start.
Driveway Repair is Not a DIY Project
Now that you’ve learned more about the benefits of driveway repair and the process of concrete lifting, you’re probably wondering how you can get your hands on these solutions.
However, trying to fix these problems on your own is not a good idea. It would cost you more to purchase the specialized tools and materials needed for the repair work, and if you have never carried out driveway repair before, you could potentially install the wrong type or amount of solution.
While there are plenty of resources and tutorials out there for DIY enthusiasts, nothing beats the skill and experience of a professional installation. Experts who have the knowledge and proper training of these repair solutions are the best people to turn to for help with your concrete problems and driveway repair.
Contact FSM for Expert Driveway Repair
If you have noticed that your driveway is starting to crack, sink, or crumble, don’t wait for these problems to get worse. There are many ways you will benefit from professional concrete driveway repair. Our team at FSM is well-versed in concrete driveway lifting. We can educate you on the underlying causes of the damage, the severity of the damage to your driveway, and how you can prevent these issues from arising again in the future.
If you’re ready to invest in concrete driveway lifting and repair, contact us today to schedule a free inspection. These inspection appointments come with a free written estimate of our suggested repairs and absolutely no obligation to book the work through us. Don’t delay, start protecting your home now.