Have you ever taken a walk and your foot catches on the edge of a sidewalk slab sothat you stumble or fall? We’ve all done this at some point in our lives. But as a homeowner, you can actually fix and prevent this tripping hazard.
Uneven concrete sidewalks are quite common in neighborhoods and around businesses, and more often than not it’s up to the property owner to maintain and repair these walkways.
Concrete sidewalk slabs can crack, sink, and suffer other damage for several reasons. But the root of the problem lies within the soil underneath. If the underlying soil is unstable, washes out, or sinks, the concrete sidewalk too will sink. This results in an unsightly safety hazard.
So, how do you go about fixing this problem? While sidewalk repair is crucial for safety and curb appeal, it is not a DIY project. This type of repair is best left to experienced professionals like the team at FSM. We know everything there is to know about sidewalk repair, and we can help you create a safer property with our revolutionary PolyRenewal™ concrete lifting solution. Read on to learn more!
Why Should I Fix My Uneven Sidewalk?
As we previously mentioned, it’s up to you as the homeowner to maintain the sidewalk in front of your home and repair it if it becomes damaged. You can check with your municipality on the rules just to be clear.
While this is an important reason to invest in sidewalk repair, it’s not the only benefit you’ll reap from this project. Here are a few other benefits of lifting and repairing your uneven sidewalk:
Avoid Accidents and Injuries
The health and safety of anyone on your property is a huge factor. When you have an uneven sidewalk, anyone walking over it, especially very young children, the elderly, and those with mobility issues, are at risk for serious injury. Protect your loved ones, neighbors, and visitors by lifting any uneven sidewalk slabs and make it easier for walking.
Restore Property Appearance and Value
Even if something cosmetic in appearance like a cracking and uneven sidewalk doesn’t seem like a big concern to you, it should be. This is especially true when you decide to put your house on the market. An unsightly sidewalk on a property can hurt its value and turn potential buyers off. But any repairs including lifting uneven sidewalks can enhance and potentially raise a home’s value along with its aesthetics.
Enhance Concrete and Soil Stability
When you repair the sidewalk on your property – namely with polyurethane injections – you also are ensuring its long-term stability. If the sidewalk cracked and settled because of unstable, sinking soil underneath, repair with polyurethane injections helps maintain the soil’s stability as well. The heavy-duty material used for this kind of repair helps prevent soil washout and settling, as well as any future settlement of the slab.
What are My Sidewalk Repair Options?
While some projects can be put on the backburner, this is not true of sidewalk repair. If you notice the sidewalk slabs on your property are cracking, flaking, have gaps, and are sinking and uneven, it’s imperative to fix the problem right away. Time will not be in your favor or fix the issues. They will only get worse the longer they are neglected and be even more expensive to repair in the long run.
There are various options for repairing uneven sidewalks, including replacing or repouring, mudjacking, and PolyRenewal™ polyurethane injections, but only one permanent solution that tackles the root of the problem. Let’s explore each one.
Concrete Replacement or Repouring
Jackhammering and repouring a section or slabs of concrete sidewalk is not going to get to the root of the problem. If the issue is with settling soil underneath, the weight of the new concrete is only going to continue making the soil settle further. This also can be an expensive and time-consuming project, as it will take a long time for the newly poured cement to cure.
However, if the sidewalk is in a severe state of disrepair that other repair methods are not viable, repouring the sidewalk slab(s) may be your only option.
Concrete repair with mudjacking has been around for many years. This repair method involves pumping a concrete slurry underneath the sunken concrete slabs to lift them with the pressure generated.
Even though mudjacking has become the traditionally used method for repairing and lifting concrete, it has many faults. Invasive, soda can-sized holes have to be drilled into the concrete, the slurry pumped underneath is thick and heavy and it does not completely fill the void between the soil and the slab, and it sets very slowly. This means that already weak soil may be overwhelmed by the excess weight, leading to a vicious cycle of continued settlement, and you could have to wait several days before the surface is fully set in place.
Mudjacking also can be an expensive project, and, like repouring concrete, it is not a permanent solution that addresses the root cause. The repairs may only last five to 10 years, requiring additional installations and the investment of your time and money.
PolyRenewal™ Polyurethane Foam Injections
Fortunately, repair methods and materials have evolved and improved over time.
You still have the option to use a concept like mudjacking, but one that is far superior. Concrete lifting with PolyRenewal™ polyurethane foam injections is a more reliable, long-lasting, and less invasive method.
Holes are still drilled into the sidewalk to pump the material underneath, but these holes are roughly the size of a penny and the foam that is injected is lightweight. But it also is very durable and expansive, meaning it fills the entire void under the slab instead of a concrete cone that forms underneath with mudjacking.
PolyRenewal™ polyurethane foam injections also are water-resistant, eco-friendly, suitable for weak soil, and have a quick cure time of 15 minutes. All these benefits make for a long-term solution to sinking sidewalk slabs.
Can I Lift My Sidewalk Alone?
Reading about a state-of-the-art solution like PolyRenewal™ may have sparked your excitement about sidewalk repair, but don’t rush to your local hardware store just yet. It can be tempting to undertake these projects on your own, but there’s a lot to consider with this type of repair.
The Drawbacks of DIY
First, you may have a hard time locating all the materials and tools to properly take on concrete lifting and repairs. And these often-one-time use pieces could be costly. Plus, PolyRenewal™ is a specialized solution only available through certain contractors like FSM.
So many tutorials and resources are available online, but unless you’ve undergone extensive training, you could fail to properly install the repair measure or use the wrong one. Not only will you be out money and time, but the root of the problem will not have been fixed. Concrete lifting requires considerable experience, knowledge, and calculations, and you risk serious damage or injury without the proper know-how.
Opt for Professional Installation for the Best Results
While your interest and effort are admirable, your best bet is to reach out to local contractors who have the proven expertise backed by training and experience. These professionals can help you with understanding and tackling the root of the problem so it will not be a recurring issue. They also have access to the right equipment to get the job done and can complete the sidewalk repairs quickly and efficiently for the best outcome for you. Plus, PolyRenewal™ is a repair solution available exclusively through FSM, meaning you won’t find this quality material at your typical hardware store.
Contact FSM for Expert Sidewalk Repair
Concrete lifting can be a complicated repair for homeowners. Rather than spending your time and money on temporary or inappropriate solutions, invest instead in something reliable that’s going to stand the test of time like PolyRenewal™ polyurethane foam injections.If you’re ready to repair and protect your uneven sidewalk with this innovative solution, contact the expert team at FSM today to schedule a free inspection and repair quote.
It’s not too hard to determine if there are problems in concrete sidewalks that need repaired. Learning to spot signs of damage and instability is all-important to ensuring you are able to nip issues in the bud and keep your overall repair costs low.
Here are the signs that you need to call a professional to deal with your sinking or damaged concrete sidewalk:
- Slabs That Don’t Match Up and Uneven or Sunken Slabs
The majority of concrete sidewalks will use multiple slabs. This has many benefits, but one of the most obvious is that slight movements in the earth are easier to spot when there are multiple concrete slabs being used in close proximity to one another.
If you start to see irregularities in the seams between the slabs, or some slabs start to lift above or sink below others, you should consider seeking professional advice. Lateral movement or minor shifts in position may seem like more of an inconvenience than anything else, but you should consider it an early warning sign. Acting at this first sign of instability could save you a lot of money in the long run.
If the concrete slabs that make up your sidewalk are visibly uneven, you should act immediately, even if there are no signs of damage to the slab itself. Unevenness or sinking in your sidewalks is a sign of a much deeper problem at work. This is a problem that has its root in the soil underneath all the structures on a property. As such, sinking and uneven sidewalks around your home could be a sign that your property’s foundation may soon be in danger. Acting quickly is important.
- Cracks in the Concrete and Gaps Under the Edges
Cracks in your concrete sidewalks can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and while not all are actively dangerous, none are ideal. Small hairline cracks can be a result of the natural settling process or even small amounts of pressure caused by seasonal changes and shifts in the soil. If the cracks are very fine and shallow, there may be no immediate reason to worry, but if the cracks are starting to spread and grow, they are wide enough to fit more than one credit card into, or they are actively changing, it is time to call a professional. Spreading cracks are a sign of ongoing pressure and will only get worse.
Erosion and soil washout are incredibly damaging processes that can cause huge amounts of damage to a property and its yard. Gaps and depressions around the edges of your property’s sidewalks are a big red flag for the presence of erosion and soil washout around your home. Over time, this may lead to certain sections of your property’s foundation being exposed. This will lead to foundation damage in the long run. As such, it is far better to act quickly.
There are several potential causes and contributing factors when it comes to sidewalk damage around your home. Broadly speaking, however, it will either be an issue with the soil or the concrete that has been used to make the sidewalk in the first place.
- Bad Concrete and Poor Implementation
The easy-to-tailor nature of concrete makes it an excellent building material for all kinds of surfaces and structures. However, it also makes it easy for a miscalculation to cause issues. After all, concrete is really just a mix of certain rocks, water, and sand. More specifically, it is made up of cement, which is a mix of powdered limestone and clay, as well as water and sand. Too much water or sand, however, can make concrete prone to damage, staining, or even efflorescence if the right minerals are present. If poorly mixed or balanced concrete is the reason for your damaged sidewalk, you are likely to notice cosmetic issues like staining and pitting, as well as cracks and sinking sections of sidewalk.
Even the best concrete mix can be undermined by poor implementation. Using certain compaction methods (for example, hard troweling) can lead to weaknesses in the concrete once it has fully set. This can cause minor issues like staining or more serious problems like cracks and an uneven surface. Likewise, concrete that has been subject to an inadequate or inappropriate curing process may be more prone to certain kinds of damage than concrete sidewalks that have been properly laid and treated.
- Weak Soil
Weak soil can affect even the best laid and planned sidewalks and will inevitably impact your home if left unaddressed. There are different issues that could be at work when it comes to your soil. This can range from fundamentally weak or expansive soils that cause movement in your property, and any other structures that rest on them, to things like washout and erosion.
Washout and erosion are most common on soils that are already weak or unhealthy, of course, but they can form in previously healthy soil with alarming speed. You will be able to tell erosion is at work through problem signs like gaps forming in exterior stairs or sections of your foundation being exposed.
Of course, learning to recognize damage to your concrete sidewalk in the first place is incredibly important, not least because it will give you an idea of when to call in a professional.
- Do I Need Professional Sidewalk Repair?
It is only natural to want to save time and money by undertaking some work on your own. But when it comes to sidewalk repair and lifting, it’s best to leave the work to professionals who have the skills and equipment to do the job justice. If you try to go it alone, there could be significant consequences.
This Is Not a DIY Project
Many homeowners get excited about employing a DIY solution to as many problems as possible. This can be useful, but here at FSM, we tell our customers that DIY should stop where structural and concrete repairs begin. There is no room for mistakes or miscalculations when it comes to things like structural repair and sidewalk lifting.
If you try to use something like PolyRenewal™ foam, for example, you will most likely have a hard time getting the tools you need. Even if you are able to get what you need, you could face a real risk of injury if the process should go wrong. Beyond that, there is the chance that you could misdiagnose the problem or even install the wrong solution. This could end up causing more damage to your property.
Expert Assistance is More Effective
If you instead invest in professional help, you will find that the overall costs are lower. Not only do professionals have all the right materials and tools on hand, but they have access to the best products (some of which you will not be able to access as a non-professional). This means that you get a better result in less time. Better yet, the solutions provided by a professional will be permanent.
This means that you get the right results the first time the issue is addressed, and you can rest easy knowing that the appearance and stability of your sidewalk have been restored. This will not only keep costs low, but it will prevent unnecessary complications. When a professional repair team leaves, you will have a level, safe sidewalk that is not likely to sink again. As such, expert help is an investment in your home that should not be underestimated.