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The Cleveland Guide to Concrete Repair

Are you a homeowner in the Cleveland area looking for information about concrete repair? If so, our helpful guide has just what you need. We’ll cover everything from what causes concrete slabs, such as driveways and sidewalks, to become uneven to how unlevel slabs can usually be repaired in just a few hours. We’ll also offer tips on how to help prevent problems with your concrete surfaces. 

What Causes Concrete Slabs to Crack or Become Uneven?

Concrete surfaces like sidewalks, driveways, and patios can crack and become uneven for several reasons, including the following:

  • Expansive soil – Expansive soil contains a lot of clay, which causes it to expand when it soaks up moisture and shrink when it dries out. Over time, this creates movement under the slab, and can eventually cause it to become uneven and crack. 
  • Freeze-thaw cycle – This happens in areas with cold winters. When water gets into the concrete and freezes, it expands and puts pressure on the concrete. When it thaws, it contracts, which can cause cracks.
  • Erosion-prone soil – Erosion under the slab is another possible culprit. If the soil beneath the concrete washes away, it can cause the concrete to sink or become unsupported, which can lead to cracking and unevenness.
  • Poor drainage – Poor drainage can make problems with expansive or erosion-prone soil worse. 
  • Invasive tree roots – As trees grow, their roots can expand and push against the concrete, causing it to crack or even lift up. We’ve all seen examples of this firsthand. 
  • Improper site preparation – The soil must be tamped down before a slab is poured. If this isn’t done correctly, the slab can sink into the ground and become uneven. 

For more information, see Why Concrete Fails.

Pitting, Flaking, and Staining in Concrete

Concrete can suffer from more than just cracking. It can also pit, flake, and even stain.  

Pitting is when the surface of concrete gets small, irregularly shaped holes. This can happen when concrete is exposed to acids or salts, which can erode and eat away at the surface. Pitting can make the concrete unsightly and create safety hazards – especially in areas where a non-slip surface is required.

Flaking, meanwhile, is when small pieces of the concrete surface break away, leaving behind a rough, uneven texture. This can happen for various reasons, including over-troweling, use of low-quality materials, or improper curing. Flaking can also make the surface unsightly and increase the risk of tripping or falling.

Staining is perhaps the most common form of concrete damage. It occurs when substances such as oil, grease, and chemicals penetrate the surface and create discolorations. Stains can also be caused by rust from metals or organic matter like leaves or wood. Stains are not only unattractive, but can also affect the concrete’s durability over time.

How to Level an Uneven Concrete Slab

The good news is that most cracked and uneven slabs don’t need to be torn up and replaced. It’s usually possible to lift and level a sunken, uneven slab in just a few hours using PolyRenewal™ polyurethane foam injection. This involves injecting foam into the voids under the slab to lift it up and level it out. Here’s a step-by-step rundown of the process:

  • Evaluate the slab – First, someone will come and inspect the slab to see how bad the damage is and determine whether it’s a good candidate for PolyRenewal™ polyurethane foam injection. This might involve measuring the slant, looking for cracks or other damage, and checking for any underlying issues that may have caused the slab to sink or shift.
  • Prep the area – Next, any debris or other materials around the slab will be cleared away and any grass or other vegetation growing around it will be trimmed back. This will create an open space for the foam injection process to take place.
  • Drill injection holes – Dime-sized holes will be drilled into the slab at strategic locations to allow the foam to be injected underneath.  
  • Inject the foam – Using specialized equipment, the polyurethane foam will be injected under the slab through the holes. The foam will fill in the voids under the slab, expanding to lift it up and level it out. The foam itself is lightweight but incredibly strong and durable, so it can bear the slab’s weight without issue.
  • Put on the finishing touches – Once the foam injection is complete, any excess foam will be trimmed away and the injection holes filled with a concrete patch that closely matches the color of the slab. The entire process usually only takes a few hours, and the slab can be used again almost immediately.

For more information, see Concrete Lifting Examples.

Tips on How to Prevent Damage to Concrete Slabs

If you’re looking to keep your concrete surfaces in good shape, there are a few things you can do. These include:

First of all, make sure you have good drainage underneath the concrete. When water sits under the concrete, it can cause expansive soil to swell and erosion-prone soil to wash away. So, if you’re pouring new concrete, ensure the ground underneath is properly graded to allow water to drain away.

Second, consider applying a waterproof sealant to your concrete. This can help reduce the amount of moisture that seeps into the concrete, dramatically increasing its lifespan. There are tons of different sealants out there, so do some research to find one that will work best for your particular situation.

Another important thing you can do is keep your concrete clean. Dirt and other debris can actually cause damage to your concrete over time, so it’s important to clean it regularly. You can use a power washer, a hose, or a broom to do this – just be sure to avoid using harsh chemicals that could damage the concrete.

Finally, if you spot any cracks or other issues with your concrete, it’s important to fix them immediately. The longer you wait, the worse these problems can become. 

If you’re concerned about one or more concrete surfaces on your Cleveland property, contact us today to schedule a free inspection and receive a repair estimate! 

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