With nearly two decades of experience serving Central Ohio, you can imagine how many questions we’ve answered about concrete lifting and leveling! That’s why B-Level president Jacob Shreyer has devoted his time answering your questions in the blog series “From Jacob’s Desk.”
1. Uneven concrete
Uneven concrete is the most obvious sign of needing your concrete repaired, and it’s the #1 reason people call a concrete lifting contractor. Uneven concrete puts you and others at risk of tripping, falling and becoming injured. Other common signs of uneven concrete include cracks opening up, outdoor furniture not sitting evenly, porch columns dangling freely, overhang of porch sagging, basketballs not bouncing properly, snow blowers catching and scraping, doors not opening properly, and cars thumping into the garage.
2. Larger-than-normal step height or steps that are out of code
A standard-sized step is 7.75 inches. We’ve found that concrete contractors will typically pour the step height somewhere between 7.5-8.5 inches. If the concrete drops, causing the step height to exceed 8.5 inches, and you’re not already prepared to take a larger-than-normal step, you are at risk of slipping or falling. It may be very challenging or physically impossible for someone to step up or down from a larger-than-normal distance which makes it very important to maintain proper step heights.
3. Bad slope or improper drainage away from a structure
A very common area of settlement is along the walls of the foundation. This, in large part, is caused from loose backfill. If your concrete is poured over loose backfill, it is subject to settlement which can impact the slope or drainage away from the foundation. Once the concrete drops to where it has negative slope, water will travel toward the foundation instead of away, which will lead to a variety of problems. These problems, if not addressed quickly, may lead to expensive structural repairs.
4. Voids underneath the concrete
Usually voids under concrete are not detected until it is too late. Identifying voids under your concrete can sometimes be hard to do, but there are a few things you look for when it comes to voids. The easiest way to detect voids is to visually inspect along the edges of the slab. If a void is detected, you can probe underneath the slab with a yardstick or tape measure to see how far the void reaches. The degree of how much void under the concrete is tolerable can vary based on the age and strength of the concrete, along with the amount of weight the concrete is holding.
Voids can also be detected by using “ground penetrating radar systems.” This is a non-invasive way to examine the concrete from the top. These methods oftentimes cannot tell you the actual depth of the void, but can detect exactly where the voids are. This can be a great option for you if you have varmints that have burrowed below your patio slab or pole barn slab. You can follow the path of the animal and determine exactly where the void will need to be filled back in.
5. Dirty concrete or concrete without a sealer
Dirty concrete can lead to slippery concrete, especially when the surface gets wet. Concrete can develop a buildup of moss in areas that are shaded, which can be a fall hazard. When it’s raining outside, the concrete may feel like you’re walking across ice which is extremely dangerous. Having the concrete cleaned will not only improve its appearance, it will also help prevent unnecessary injuries.
Unprotected concrete, or concrete without a sealer, allows for water and oils to absorb into the surface. This can lead to permanent staining or unnecessary surface damage caused by freezing temperatures. Using a surface sealer, or penetrating sealer, will give the concrete its best opportunity for extended life, durability and overall appearance.
6. Gaps or cracks in the concrete
Leaving gaps, cracks or open seams unfilled may lead to a few problems. The width of the area will determine if caulking can be used, or if a concrete patch would be best. Having these areas filled will help reduce the risk of erosion, heaving concrete in the winter, future settlement, grass growing up through the concrete or someone’s heel from getting stuck or broken.
Filling the gaps, cracks or open seams can also make for a more-finished looking repair and can be less of an eye sore for those of us who don’t like to see the unrepaired breaks. At B-Level, we typically will fill anything 1 inch or less with caulk and anything over 1 inch with either grout or some type of cementitious material.
Contact B-Level today if you’re experiencing issues with unleveled or damaged concrete. We offer free estimates to property owners and managers.