There’s no question that concrete is one of the most durable construction materials around. However, concrete driveways are still susceptible to cracking and breaking down over time. Many things, such as exposure to the elements, poor water drainage, and repeated frost heave can lead to deterioration through the years.
However, you can fix a cracked or uneven driveway with concrete leveling. Read on for more info on causes, concerns, and concrete leveling solutions if you have a cracked concrete driveway!
Causes of Cracked or Uneven Concrete
There are many reasons your concrete driveway may be cracking or uneven. Some of this has to do with your location. For example, if you live in an area where earthquakes are common, this shifting could cause breakage. While earthquake damage is rarer, we’ll run through some more common causes of a cracked or uneven driveway.
Plastic shrinkage cracks are small hairline cracks that happen during installation. If the concrete is overmixed or applied during extremely hot weather, the water can evaporate too rapidly before the mixture has time to properly set. If the volume reduction occurs before the concrete hardens, it is called plastic shrinkage. The volume reduction that occurs primarily due to moisture loss after the concrete has hardened is known as drying shrinkage. Both can be minimized by proper mixing and placement of the concrete. If you laid the concrete yourself or used a less-reputable contractor, this may be the root of your issues.
Settlement occurs most often when dry soil shrinks, causing unwanted space to grow below the concrete. Ground movement can also be caused by earthquakes, or by plants (like tree roots) growing under the concrete slab. These can cause larger cracks that leave two uneven layers of concrete.
Chemical deterioration occurs when salt is poured on concrete during winter weather. For obvious reasons, this is most common in areas that get a lot of snow in the winter. A safer alternative to avoid such damage would be to use sand instead.
When concrete containing steel rebar or wire mesh comes in contact with moisture and oxygen, the result is rust. This greatly weakens the structural integrity of the slab which can cause cracking or unevenness.
Although concrete is super strong, overload issues can occur. If a heavy truck is parked or driven on your driveway, especially with any regularity, you might notice stress fractures.
The Risk of a Cracked or Uneven Driveway
While cracked or uneven driveways may be an eyesore or even lower your home value, there are more serious risks involved.
When there is a crack in your driveway, there is a risk of someone tripping. And since this is on your property, you could be held liable. The last thing you want is for a small crack to turn into a major injury or lawsuit!
Apart from growing and becoming wide, a crack in the concrete can also attract water in between them. As the temperature drops, water freezes, and the resulting ice will further expand the crack.
Molds tend to grow in the cracks of concrete when water settles in them. This is more common when the cracks in the concrete are in places like a basement garage or other dark places. However, mold can become an issue even in a driveway. And mold can cause serious health complications to your home’s occupants.
When cracks are not repaired, they can quickly grow from a small crack to becoming a larger one. Unfortunately, unlevel concrete won’t just fix itself. And As with other major home projects, the cost to fix uneven or cracked concrete slabs only increases with time and the amount of damage.
It’s important to note that when cracks let in water, damage only worsens. Plus, unlevel concrete encourages low spots where standing water can pool. This can lead to mold or an increase in mosquitos. And should these pools freeze in cooler months, you could be looking at additional safety concerns and further damage.
Solutions for Cracked or Uneven Concrete
There are some slapdash DIY options for repairing concrete on your own. But for long-term, high-quality repairs or replacements, go with a pro. Here are some of the options if you use a professional concrete leveling company.
An experienced contractor can lift concrete slabs using PolyRenewal. This is a cost-effective, structural-grade polyurethane injection foam that permanently stabilizes and accurately lifts driveways. The foam can be installed in minutes, is minimally invasive, lightweight, and waterproof.
Furthermore, PolyRenewall foam is engineer-designed and tested. It provides permanent stabilization and serves as the best opportunity to lift slabs back to position. When it comes to concrete lifting and leveling, this foam is a game-changer.
A common, but fairly out-of-date solution to repairing a cracked driveway is mudjacking (also known as slabjacking). Mudjacking is a relatively inexpensive technique used to address certain settlement issues within your concrete. This process involves drilling soda can-sized holes through the concrete and injecting a heavy concrete slurry to gradually fill the voids beneath the slab.
Unfortunately, mudjacking can be very messy and typically takes at least a week to fully cure, meaning your driveway is essentially unusable during that time. Additionally, mudjacking is a relatively short-term fix. Because this method doesn’t address the true cause—the soil—it cannot guarantee stabilization and may require maintenance every few years.
Partial Concrete Replacement
Another concrete repair process is a partial concrete replacement. As its name implies, this technique involves ripping out and replacing the damaged sections of a settled driveway. Partial replacement is expensive and takes approximately two weeks to cure. Aesthetically, the new section will always be discolored from the original concrete slab. Additionally, concrete replacement has the same problem as mudjacking: it does not address the soil and can thus sink or crack again over time.
Uneven, cracked concrete is unsightly and unsafe. But there’s no need to put up with that problem on your property. Instead, contact a local professional team to help you get your driveway leveled and back in tip-top shape. And high-density Polyurethane lifting foam is the best way to repair your concrete so it looks and performs beautifully.
If you are ready to update and beautify your cracked or uneven driveway with leveling, we are ready to help! Because when you use a TrustDALE certified professional, you're always protected by Dale's trademark $10,000 Make-It-Right Guarantee. So start looking for a trusted concrete leveling and lifting professional in your area today!