It’s unsightly, it’s dangerous, it’s a potential liability but it’s easy to fix.
Concrete settlement is a very common problem affecting not only residential neighborhoods but municipalities commercial enterprises and industrial facilities. What causes concrete to settle?
1. Failure to prepare the site. If soil was disturbed during construction was it re-compacted? Was there a 4-6″ layer of compacted gravel placed under the slab? These two primary issues are the cause of much of the settling commonly found in new construction.
2. The next most common cause of concrete settlement is excess water. Dealing with water runoff is generally not on a builders mind at the start of construction, it should be. Trying to figure out where you were going to put downspouts, sprinklers and water features after sidewalks porches and driveways have been poured is poor planning and asking for concrete settlement. Having a place for your run off to drain such as french drains well away from structures or into municipal water supplies if allowed in your jurisdiction will help your concrete remain stable.
3. Another cause of concrete settlement is the breakdown of organic material in your soil. As roots, debris and other organic material breaks down is creates void space that contributes to settlement. Water migrating through the soils takes with it small amounts of soil and sand and these also contribute to the gradual settling of soil.
4. Finally ground water migration can play a role in settlement in some instances particularly if you have a high water table. We did a municipal job where groundwater migration had created a six-inch avoid behind a municipal pool. While there is little you can do about a high water table you can fill voids as quickly as possible so the supporting soils are capable of carrying the load above.
In addition to the above, the type of soil that is predominate in your area plays a role in its ability to support structures. Whether it be sand, clay or silt each has advantages and disadvantages depending on its use. Some soils don’t drain well others are prone to wash out, still others will actually expand as much as 10% with water!
If someone failed in the planning phase and you are dealing with concrete settlement give the concrete raising of leveling professionals a call today.
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