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AM Wall Anchor & Water Proofing Blog Article:

Sinking Concrete: Causes and Solutions

An AM Wall Anchor & Waterproofing professional is working on a sinking concrete repair project at a residential home

If your driveway feels bumpy or your sidewalk rolls like waves, sinking concrete could put your property at risk. While some settling can always be expected as time passes, sinking concrete repair may be needed to avoid cracking and breaking sidewalks, drives, porches, or even your home’s foundation. As these cracks widen, they can allow more moisture to penetrate, creating more instability. An experienced concrete specialist can help you protect your property and avoid larger repair bills by fixing the existing damage and addressing the root issues causing your concrete to sink.

The Causes of Sinking Concrete

Concrete is a durable, cost-effective building material, which is why it’s such a popular choice for foundations and other ground-level and below-ground-level structures. Concrete slabs, however, are only as good as their support, the ground beneath them. During the construction process, the land your home is built on is excavated for the construction of the basement, which then has fill dirt added back in around it to eliminate any voids. For slab or crawlspace foundations, the land is leveled and compacted for slab or crawlspace foundations before the structures are built. 

Generally, sinking concrete is caused by one of three issues impacting the concrete’s support:

  • Improper Preparation – If the soil under your concrete wasn’t properly compacted, voids that don’t provide the needed support could remain. Over time, the concrete begins to sink into these voids, creating an uneven or broken surface.
  • Compacting Over Time – As your concrete is used, the soil underneath will continue to compact. While this process is usually slow, it isn’t always even. Especially in older homes or where larger and heavier vehicles have been parked in a single spot for extended periods of time, this uneven compacting can form cracks in the concrete as the soil under the concrete compacts at different rates.
  • Weather-Related Issues – Weather can greatly impact the soil around and under your home, especially if it doesn’t have proper drainage. Loosely compacted soil can be washed away, clay-rich soil can expand and contract with moisture, and over-saturated soil is more prone to erosion.

How To Repair Sinking Concrete

Sinking concrete repair focuses on addressing the lack of support under the slab before it buckles, breaks, or requires replacement. The most common method involves drilling small holes in the concrete and then injecting an expanding polymer mixture under the slab. As this mixture dries and hardens, it fills the void and lifts the concrete back to level. The holes can then be patched, leaving you with a flat, restored concrete surface.

Preventing Sinking Concrete 

new concrete floor in a residential garage, with new exterior french drainage installed to assist with water drainage issues

While preventing sinking concrete is important for avoiding the need for repairs, it’s also important after a repair to protect the integrity of your property, both the areas that have been recently restored and other areas that may be in danger of facing the same instability issues in the future. 

  • Maintain Your Gutters and Downspouts – Clogged gutters back up until they overflow, dropping excess amounts of water right next to your home’s foundation, sidewalks, and driveway. Keep your gutters and downspouts clean and install shields to prevent debris that can cause dams to build up. Downspouts should guide the water to ground level and then channel it away from the home to protect your concrete.
  • Use Landscaping – Landscaping both prevents erosion and encourages proper drainage, but beware of putting larger trees too close to concrete, as their root systems can easily lift concrete or create voids and other unstable spaces. Use your landscape to secure your soil and protect the areas close to your house from oversaturation.
  • Improve Your Yard’s Drainage – Effective drainage can minimize the risk of erosion in your yard by moving water away from your property before it loosens soil, swells clay, or causes other issues. This includes proper grading and use of landscaping, but you may want to supplement these with french drains. These collect water in underground pipes that direct the water to natural drainage areas away from your home’s structures before it can cause sinking concrete.
  • Invest in Waterproofing – Professional waterproofing helps keep moisture from pooling around your property, damaging its structures and your home. Waterproofing keeps your property safer, from sealing cracks and joints to using a sump pump to actively move water out and away from your basement. 

Getting Professional Help With Your Sinking Concrete

If your concrete is sinking, it’s essential to get a professional concrete repair service involved immediately to prevent further degradation that increases the risk of damage to your concrete, requiring more extensive sinking concrete repair. In many cases, homeowners won’t have the experience or tools necessary to fully identify the reason their concrete is sinking, repair the existing damage, and mitigate the risk of further sinking or damage in the future.

Your concrete specialist will start by scheduling a time to come out and look at your sinking concrete and the land that surrounds it. They may also inspect your foundation and other concrete areas to look for danger signs you haven’t noticed yet or identify patterns that may give a more complete look at any instabilities in the soil. Once they’ve had a chance to see the extent and cause of the damage, they’ll talk to you about potential sinking concrete repair options and provide a written estimate. 

Completed concrete floor replacement inside of a residential garage

Leveling the concrete is often the most cost-effective and efficient repair process if possible. It has the lowest cost, takes the least amount of time, and provides long-lasting results. For concrete that’s already broken, has large cracks, or is otherwise not a good candidate for leveling, replacement may be needed. Your concrete specialist can also talk to you about waterproofing options and drainage improvements that can help better manage water around the home and across the entire property.

Call a Concrete Professional You Can Count On

When you need help with your concrete, foundation, or improving drainage, we’re ready to help. We’ve been the trusted foundation specialists for your friends and neighbors since 2015, protecting area homes with the right knowledge, tools, and American-made materials. Call for your free concrete or basement inspection from A.M. Wall Anchor & Waterproofing today. 

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