When strolling down the sidewalks on a daily walk or on your way to work or school, the last thing you want to happen is trip over an uneven surface or have to focus on navigating the cracked walkway. As a property owner, it’s crucial to ensure the safety and aesthetic of your outdoor spaces. Uneven, sunken, or cracked sidewalks can be a common issue, but understanding why they happen, how to repair, and how to prevent them can help you effectively tackle the problem.
Common Causes of Sidewalk Problems
Sidewalk issues have a few common causes, some easier to prevent than others. If the soil beneath the concrete is improperly compacted, ice and moisture can form beneath the surface, causing a cycle of expansion and contraction. Over time, this process will life and crack the concrete and, when the slab falls back into place, often causes a misalignment for an uneven sidewalk.
Additionally, trees and other landscaping planted too closely to the sidewalk can cause the surface to become uneven. Large roots can easily spread underneath, forcing the sidewalk to shift and disrupting the soil beneath to cause poor soil compaction.
Why do Sidewalk Cracks and Unevenness Become Worse During Winter?
In some cases, you may notice that sidewalk cracks and uneven surfaces become worse during wintertime. This is due to snow and ice introducing more moisture into existing cracks and often going through the freeze-thaw cycle repeatedly as temperatures fluctuate, damaging the concrete even more.
Is my Uneven Sidewalk a Safety Hazard?
Uneven sidewalks and large cracks can cause people to trip, slip, or fall, causing potential injury. Although these incidents aren’t always the fault of the surface, property owners are responsible for protecting those on their property from reasonably known risks of harm. As a property owner, if there is a crack or tripping hazard present on the surface and you were aware of it and failed to repair it, you may be held legally responsible, costing you more money than if you had fixed the issue in the first place.
How to Fix Uneven Sidewalks and Cracks
To fix uneven sidewalks and cracks around your home, don’t attempt to do it on your own. In fact, conducting a DIY fix may make the problem worse than it already is. Calling a professional to get the job done right can minimize the risk of costly mistakes and ensure you are left with a long-lasting result. Below are some of the most common solutions for sidewalk repair:
Polyjacking and Mudjacking Concrete Leveling
Polyjacking and mudjacking are advanced techniques that address sunken concrete by injecting stabilizing materials beneath the slab. These methods are a much more cost-effective solution to raise and level a sunken sidewalk than performing a complete replacement.
Concrete Grinding to Repair Cracks
For sidewalks that have noticeable cracks but is still structurally sound, concrete grinding provides an ideal solution. The surface is smoothed by removing the top layer of concrete for a more even walkway without the cracks, helping prevent accelerated deterioration from moisture infiltration.
Myths About Concrete Leveling
There are numerous misconceptions and myths about leveling concrete, some of which have property owners either performing the repair incorrectly or foregoing it completely. Concrete leveling is often an affordable option when it comes to improving the appearance and health of a walkway. It’s also a much better solution than filling cracks with caulk. While there is no landscape-ruining excavation involved in concrete leveling, it is not a simple DIY project as it requires extensive knowledge, specific equipment, and experience.
Sinking Driveways: A Related Issue
Much like uneven sidewalks, driveways are often subjected to the same issues, causing them to sink or crack. A sinking driveway can be caused by improper construction, poor ground preparation, and soil erosion. Thankfully, the similar causes also means the repair methods are similar, as well. Driveways are subjected more often to heavier loads from vehicles, so if you begin noticing issues, it’s essential to have it inspected and repaired right away.
DIY vs. Professional Sidewalk Repair
Performing DIY sidewalk repair may be appealing to some, but it does come with risks and limitations. The goal is to implement a solution that will keep your surface solid and even for years to come. If you have not properly diagnosed the cause of the problem, it could mean your repair efforts are going to waste. Additionally, without the proper tools to perform the job, the DIY repairs will most likely not resolve the problem, even if you have correctly identified the problem.
Engaging with a professional repair service company will ensure the issue is thoroughly assessed so you get a precise solution that matches the severity of the issue. They will also have all of the necessary tools and resources to ensure the job is done correctly. While it may require more of a financial investment, you can rest assured you’ll be left with a long-lasting, safe solution.
The cost factors of concrete leveling can vary based on several considerations. The biggest factors into the overall cost include the extend of damage, size of the area, and the chosen repair method. The cost may also be affected by ease of difficulty of access to the area as it may require more equipment. Despite having to hire a professional as opposed to doing the project yourself, you can save an average of 50 to 70 percent over the cost of completely removing and replacing the concrete. Just be sure you receive a comprehensive quote for the project from your contractor before starting the project so you know just what to budget.
Say Goodbye to a Hazardous Sidewalk with Stratum Structural Systems
Taking proactive steps to repair uneven sidewalks not only enhances the aesthetics of your property but also ensures the safety of pedestrians and visitors. Whether you opt for polyjacking, mudjacking, or concrete gridning, addressing these issues right away will prevent potential accidents and add value to your property.
If you’re uncertain about the problem’s severity or the appropriate solution, consult with the professionals at Stratum Structural Systems. We’re committed to providing expert guidance and effective solutions to keep your outdoor spaces beautiful and hazard-free.