Are the pesky cracks appearing in your concrete raising alarm bells? It starts as a tiny break, then suddenly, cracks run along your driveway length. But if concrete damage to your property has you picturing a worst-case scenario, read this post first. The damage may not be as extensive or expensive as you think.
Here are a few tips on diagnosing the extent of your concrete damage that can help you decide if your concrete needs repairs or replacement or whether you can get away with a simple patch.
Evaluating Concrete Damage
So how can you tell if the damage to your driveway, patio, or basement is critical? The first thing to understand is how damage to your concrete affects the integrity of the slab itself.
For a long time, damaged concrete was simply replaced; concrete repairs were rarely seen as a suitable long-term option. However, there has been a shift in contractor and consumer behaviour since then. Affordability, speed, and a general shift towards greener building practices generated increased interest in concrete repairs and, subsequently, a rise in the quality and availability of both professional and DIY concrete repairs.
That said, not all concrete damage can be repaired; it will depend on the extent of the damage. The slab’s integrity needs to be evaluated before a decision can be made.
Type of Concrete Damage
Over time, all concrete will begin to wear; but the type of damage will impact whether repairs are possible.
Cracks in your concrete are almost impossible to avoid. However, the good news is that they are typically straightforward to repair and generally do not affect the integrity of your concrete slab. Hairline cracks are pretty common in concrete driveways and walkways and are usually more of a visual eyesore than a structural issue. These concrete repairs can be done quickly and inexpensively, but don’t delay. Waiting too long to have minor concrete damage repaired could result in water infiltration and more extensive damage.
Spalling can be a more concerning concrete issue, depending on the degree and cause. Spalling is the technical term for flaking and chipping over the surface of your concrete slab. It can be weather related – in which case the damage might be repairable – or spalling could result from improper mixing or installation, which are more serious problems.
If flaking or chipping is mild to moderate, you may be able to salvage it with concrete repairs or resurfacing. However, if the spalling is extensive enough that the base aggregate is visible, the entire slab will likely need to be replaced.
Settlement and lifting can spell disaster for your concrete driveway or pad if not addressed quickly. Lifting creates large gaps within your concrete, opening it up to moisture, dirt, and other debris, leading to further damage. But not only does lifting present a danger to your concrete slab but lifting also presents a hazard to pedestrians and vehicles.
If you have a concrete slab that has lifted (or sunk) significantly, replacing it is often the wisest choice. Yes, it will cost more, but replacing the slab will produce the best results. In some cases, it may be possible to repair the concrete slab by jacking it up using either epoxy, polyurethane foam, or mud jacking. Whether or not concrete repairs are possible depends on whether your contractor can determine why the settlement occurred and if it’s a repairable problem (like soil erosion) versus a critical structural problem.