Like any other part of your property, driveway maintenance is crucial. Cracking, settling, or sinking in your driveway is unsightly but can also be a tripping hazard, cause severe vehicle damage, and impact your home’s value. The longer you wait to repair an uneven driveway, the more extensive and costly the repairs will become.
Driveways sink for several reasons, but nature and poor construction are to blame for most of the problems that develop with concrete slabs. Rain and seasonal variations can do a lot of damage to any concrete structure outside your home.
Five Common Causes of a Sinking Driveway
During thunderstorms, heavy rain can have an immediate effect on your driveway. The water can “wash out” the soil underneath the concrete, especially if your gutter downspouts are emptying near or on the driveway. Downspouts should direct water a minimum of 10 feet away from your home to prevent foundation and driveway problems. A slow leak from a cracked sewer or water line can also cause the soil underneath a concrete slab to erode.
2. Poor Installation
Driveways must handle a lot of weight from vehicles each day. If the soil underneath the foundation is not properly compacted or the soil isn’t level and well-graded, the ground will erode faster, causing the slab to sink. Sometimes, the work is done perfectly, but the soil composition is soft, which allows the soil to compress and the slab to settle or sink.
3. Frost Heaves
The freeze-and-thaw cycle is common during harsh winters and can damage concrete slabs. Soil that is saturated with water can freeze and thaw. When the soil freezes, it expands, pushing and heaving up anything over or around it.
4. Soil Expansion and Contraction
Soil rich in clay absorbs water more readily and changes in volume as it does. Maturing trees and large shrubs can also affect soil shrinkage and swelling. Tree roots naturally displace soil and drain moisture. A tree growing near your driveway may spread its roots underneath, causing problems for the concrete.
5. Poor Construction Techniques
Builders sometimes dig up trees and use the stumps as a base for a driveway. Stone is then filled in on top. The stumps decay a few years later, and the driveway starts to dip and sink. Many homes have loosely-compacted soil around them, especially in the three feet area of the driveway leading up to the garage door. Over time, this area may sink while the rest of the driveway remains in place.
The Preferred Repair Option: Concrete Lifting
The cause of the problem boils down to the soil underneath the driveway. No matter what causes the soil to become unstable and unable to support the concrete above, it will leave a void, and the concrete will sink. When that happens, repairs are necessary.
If you catch damage to your concrete driveway in time, it should be reasonably simple to repair it. If it’s in extreme disrepair, your only option may be a complete replacement. Traditionally repairs have been accomplished by a technique known as mudjacking. Mudjacking is a dated and less effective repair method. A more reliable and affordable solution is to use polyurethane injections to lift and level the concrete.
How Does Polyurethane Concrete Lifting Work?
With this repair method, small holes about the size of a penny are drilled into the concrete slabs. Lightweight but durable polyurethane foam is then injected underneath the concrete to expand and fill the void between the soil and concrete. This allows the slab to lift until it is level with the other slabs. It only takes about 15 minutes to cure to the point where you can begin to use your driveway again, and it will be fully cured within an hour of installation. This repair method does not compact the soil underneath, washout, or leach harmful chemicals into soil or groundwater. Polyurethane is a long-lasting solution for concrete slab repairs.
Driveway Repair is Not a DIY Project
A heavily sunken concrete slab can be difficult, if not impossible, for homeowners to repair on their own. Attempting to make a DIY repair can create additional damage. Even an experienced DIYer is unlikely to have the tools and experience needed to repair damaged concrete successfully. Call an expert concrete repair specialist if you have a sinking concrete driveway, patio, or pool deck. They’ll have the knowledge and tools to assess the problem and offer the right solution.
Why Choose RT Construction for Concrete Lifting Repairs?
RT Construction has partnered with the Alchemy-Spetec network to protect residential and commercial properties from loss and damage due to sinking concrete. We use Alchemy-Spetec polyurethane resin and expanding polyurethane foam for concrete repair projects. These products seal cracks and defects, fill gaps, and stabilize the soil. Most repairs can be completed in less than a day.
RT Construction has completed residential and commercial projects in Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas, all with precision and quality. With over 25 years of experience, we take pride in our work, and your satisfaction is guaranteed. We are licensed, insured, and bonded for your protection. Contact us online or call 636-317-5636 to schedule an inspection and free estimate.