Concrete Failures and Why They Happen
Concrete is pretty amazing stuff. It can be poured, shaped and made into just about anything you like. But even though it's incredibly strong, it's not indestructible. There are a variety of things that can cause concrete to fail, whether it’s cracks, pits, flakes, or stains. Concrete that has cracked, pitted, or heaved creates not only an eyesore but also a safety hazard.
The good news is that with the right materials, equipment, and help from the experienced professionals at Vesta Foundation Solutions of Arkansas, concrete damage can be repaired. Call us today at (479) 235-2449 or click below to get a free concrete repair inspection in Springdale.
Why Concrete Fails
Concrete can fail due to problems with the mixture itself, from the freeze-thaw cycle of water, and issues with the soil the concrete has been poured on. Reinforced concrete is concrete that has wire mesh or steel bars embedded to increase its strength, but those internal materials do run the risk of corroding. The steel within the concrete will corrode and rust, which builds up inside the concrete and eventually leads to cracks, stains, and spalling. But even concrete that has not been reinforced with steel is at risk of concrete failure. We explore some of the environmental causes for concrete failure in Springdale below.
What Lies Beneath
- Poorly compacted soil: When your home was built, the movement of soil around the building site results in poor compaction. Even when the replaced soil is compacted well, it's never as stable as the original soil. Over time, this can cause voids to form and slabs to settle, leading to concrete failure.
- Dry soil: Another cause of soil failure is drought. During dry conditions or even just during periods of warm weather and low precipitation, the soil under your concrete will dry out and shrink, creating voids. The concrete above eventually cracks and sinks into these empty spaces; especially if any weight is placed on it
- Flooding: When the rains return, the water has an even easier pathway under the slab due to cracks and crevices left over from the dry period. And this wet, soft soil is just too weak to support the concrete above it. In the worst case, the soil erodes and washes away completely, leaving behind large voids that cannot support the weight of the concrete above.
Pitting, Flaking, and Staining
Moisture is concrete's strongest enemy. It seeps into the pores of untreated concrete, and when temperatures drop, especially during freeze-thaw cycles, that trapped moisture expands as it turns to ice. This expansion destroys the pores and weakens the concrete. This results in concrete failure and slabs that can pit and flake. Concrete's porous nature also makes it susceptible to staining when left untreated.
As a homeowner, you don't just have to worry about your own concrete slabs; you should be concerned with the slabs that make up the street that goes past your house.
During colder months, your street's slabs contract, opening up the joints between them. Those joints then become filled with pebbles and other debris. Then, when the warm weather returns, the slabs expand again - only the joints that were designed to absorb this expansion are now filled with material that won't compress. This leaves the expansion pressure nowhere to go except up your driveway. This "street creep," as it is known, exerts tremendous pressure on your home and can cause all sorts of problems that lead to concrete failure.