Concrete is both affordable and durable, so it is a common building material that is used to construct driveways, patios, and home foundations in Naples, Orlando, and other Florida communities. While its exceptional properties make it strong enough to endure the tremendous forces of Mother Nature, significant weight, heavy traffic, and more, concrete is prone to a few problems that should not be ignored. One of the more common concrete issues that homeowners in the Tampa area and throughout Florida have is cracking. Because cracks are so common on driveways, patios, and other surfaces, it is easy to overlook them or to assume that they are not serious issues that should receive your prompt attention. While a small crack may only be superficial now, the crack could make the material more susceptible to further and more severe damage. Now is the time to determine if your driveway, foundation, or other concrete slab features require professional attention.
How Concrete Slab Cracks Develop
Whether a concrete slab is a few inches thick or several feet thick, it can be damaged by several common issues. These include concrete shrinkage, expanding and consolidating soil, and structural settlement. Here is what you should know about each of these potential problems:
Concrete Shrinkage – After concrete appears to be firm and dry, you may assume that its physical qualities will not change. However, during the few months after the concrete is poured, it may continue to firm up. As it does, the effect of shrinkage can cause the concrete to develop hairline cracks. If you have heard that concrete cracks are an aesthetic issue that you can ignore, these hairline cracks are what is being referred to. However, you should not ignore them. If the tiny cracks develop within the first six months, they may be attributed to shrinkage. While they do not usually signify a major cause for concern, they should be patched or repaired by a professional team to prevent future and more severe damage.
Expanding and Consolidating Soil – The type of soil that your home sits on can play a role in the formation of cracks. The ground underneath your driveway, foundation, or other paved areas could have expansive soil. This means that the soil expands considerably when it is wet. Other types of soil may consolidate when it dries out. For many Florida homeowners, the ground underneath their home has both properties. The result is the formation of gaps in the soil that allow the slab to move or to sink. This effect may be more pronounced because of hydrostatic pressure caused by these forces.
Structure Settlement – Soil expansion and shrinkage can play a role in the settlement of concrete, but structural settlement may be more pronounced. The concrete structure may settle deeper into the ground when the soil shifts, expands, or contracts. In addition, smaller or larger cracks that are already present can allow the structure to sink further into the soil. In many cases, the settling of the slab is not uniform. This can create significant structural damage for homes as well as more significant cracks in the concrete slab.
The Need for Quality Concrete Repair Service
Regardless of the reason for the concrete slab cracks and how seemingly minor they may be, professional attention is essential. This is because smaller cracks can quickly turn into larger cracks. All cracks may be a sign of existing structural damage or may present the risk for the development of damage. As cracks grow, the risk for property damage can increase as well. Before you attempt to apply a superficial patch of concrete over a crack, it is important to schedule a professional inspection from a licensed contractor in Florida. Keep in mind that a variety of concrete repair methods may be used. However, not all these methods will deliver the same results. You cannot take chances with something as critical as your home’s foundation and other concrete slab surfaces, so you should understand how the repair method that you move forward with works.
An Effective Approach for Concrete Slab Repair
You can see that the stability of the ground underneath the concrete plays a key role in the condition of the concrete. Lifting the concrete from below the slab is usually a feasible solution. Some concrete repair companies in Orlando, Naples, and throughout Florida install several types of support beams or structures underneath the slab. This is often an expensive process that needlessly damages the yard, and it may not have the long-lasting results that the homeowner wants in many cases.
Another method is called mudjacking. This method pumps a cement slurry underneath the slab. This will level the slab, and it does not damage the yard in the same way that the use of support beams would. However, the process of infusing the ground with a cement slurry will not impact the surrounding soil. The soil may begin to move and settle once again.
The most effective method that Florida homeowners use to address a cracked foundation is polyjacking. As is the case with mudjacking, polyjacking infuses the soil with a material that will lift the slab without the need to tear up the yard. With polyjacking, a poly foam material is used instead of a cement slurry. When the polyurethane foam is injected underneath the slab, it can fill in any gaps or voids in the surrounding soil. As a result, the use of poly foam can help to stabilize the surrounding soil. Because of this, polyjacking is often the method that provides the long-lasting results that homeowners in Naples, Tampa, and other nearby communities want.
When to Schedule a Foundation Inspection
Cracked concrete is an eyesore, and the size of the crack will expand over time. A minor cosmetic issue can transition into a major structural issue. Even minor fissures in the concrete should be inspected by a professional as soon as possible. Dealing with the cracks while they are still small can help you to properly maintain your home going forward and can potentially prevent unnecessary damage.