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Sinking Concrete Slab

If you have a sinking concrete slab in your home, you’ll want to tackle it as soon as you can. Here's what you need to know about sinking concrete slabs.

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Whether you’re dealing with a sinking basement floor, issues with your concrete pool, or a patio that’s sunken far past the rest of the concrete around your home, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re dealing with the problems of sinking concrete appropriately. The good news is that there are many ways to manage sinking concrete problems. 

For many homeowners, managing the problems in their homes starts with having the proper information to help them understand those problems. If you have problems with sinking concrete in your home, here’s what you need to know. 

Possible Reasons for Your Sinking Concrete Slabs 

First and foremost, why does your house have sinking concrete problems in the first place? Many homeowners feel like these sinking concrete slab problems blindside them. Understanding the reasons for sinking concrete slabs will help you pinpoint where these sinking concrete slabs might come from.  

  • Soil Washout 

One of the most common issues that can cause sinking concrete slabs is soil washout. This is a specific problem that happens when water gets underneath a slab of concrete and very slowly washes away little particles of dirt over time. Although it’s common for this to be difficult to notice day-to-day, it will catch your eye over a long period. 

When the water washes away more pieces of soil, the concrete is likely to start collapsing. Because soil washout happens over a long period and doesn’t happen evenly throughout a home, you’ll likely see concrete slab sinking on one side of the home, but not another. This soil washout can be even more likely in places like Indiana, where melting snow can slowly cause a trickle to form underneath the soil.  

  • Poorly Compacted Soil 

When a construction crew builds a home, they have to compact the soil underneath it first. There are many ways for them to do this, but one thing all of these methods have in common is that the crew has to do them correctly. What happens if the crew doesn’t properly compact the soil? More than likely, you’ll notice sinking concrete slabs. 

With poorly compacted soil, it’s easier for the weight of the concrete and the home as a whole to continue to compact the soil. The reason the crew has to compact the soil in the first place is that, without intentional compacting, there will be unintentional compacting through the lifespan of the concrete. Your sinking concrete slab may just be compressing soil underneath your home.  

  • Water Issues Under the Home 

A possible issue could occur if you’re having issues with waterlogging underneath your home. Specifically, water tends to expand soil. If water gets into the soil underneath the home, it can expand that soil, pushing up on the concrete slab. Then, when the soil dries out, it will contract again, making it likely that the concrete will start to break and collapse. 

This is similar to the problem of soil washout, but it’s the same basic problem manifesting differently. Both soil washout and expanding and contracting soil happen because of water getting under the concrete slab, but they can impact the concrete in different ways. They also require different methods of fixing, so it’s important to know what problem you’re experiencing, which an expert can help you do.  

soil washout

The Dangers of Sinking Slabs 

Even if you see a sinking concrete slab at some point, you might not know why you need to tackle the problem. After all, is it that bad to have a concrete slab that’s sinking to one side? It’s a problem for more reasons than you might know.  

  • Patio Concrete 

Issues with patio concrete can cause a variety of problems, most specifically to your home’s foundation. Although it might not seem like it, the health of your patio concrete has a direct correlation to the health of your foundation overall. You need to make sure that you’re managing your patio concrete health so that you know a bit more about the health of your home foundation. 

Additionally, sinking concrete on your patio can also make it difficult to put out the patio furniture and spend time outside. This is especially true if the sinking concrete slabs get very extreme. You want to tackle these problems early so that you can enjoy time on your patio no matter what.  

  • Garage and Driveway Concrete 

There are many reasons to consider your garage and driveway concrete as important elements of your concrete overall. As with patio concrete, it can indicate that there’s a serious foundation concern if your garage or driveway concrete is sinking, especially because garages typically share a foundation with the rest of the home. 

However, the health of your car is another thing to think about when it comes to sinking concrete slabs in your garage and driveway. This is especially true if the driveway is sinking, but the garage isn’t, or vice versa. When your car rolls over the bump that separates the two, you’re likely going to have an impact on your suspension and tires, and that same impact multiple times a day for years can damage your car.  

  • Basement Concrete 

Concrete issues in your basement are some of the most important concrete issues to tackle early on. You need to make sure you’re thinking about the different ways your concrete connects with the rest of the home, and when it comes to the basement, you’re typically looking at concrete that’s specifically the foundation of the home. 

The basement floors and walls typically make up the home’s foundation, which means any shifting, cracking, or sinking for these areas can seriously negatively impact the home’s structural stability as a whole. While a small amount of sinking in other concrete areas can be mitigated, it’s important to tackle concrete sinking in the basement as soon as you notice it.  

  • Pool Concrete 

Pool concrete is one of the more unique types of concrete that you might have around your home. However, if you notice sinking in your pool concrete, you should get an expert to take a look at it because it can have a serious impact on your pool. 

Specifically, if your pool concrete sinks to an extent where water can leak out of the pool, you could notice your water bill skyrocketing as the pool attempts to offset the loss of water. It can also cause the soil around the pool to start expanding due to the introduction of water, which can cause more cracks and worsening damage to the pool. 

Fixing Your Concrete Slabs 

Now that you know the extent to which sinking concrete slabs can damage your home, you must know how you might be able to fix them. There are a few common methods that a local professional will use to fix sinking concrete slabs.  

  • Complete Replacement 

One option that some homeowners may jump immediately to is a complete replacement of the concrete slab. Essentially, this means going in, digging up the current concrete, removing all pieces, preparing the soil, and then pouring a brand-new slab of concrete. It’s an option that a lot of homeowners will immediately consider because they don’t know any other methods of fixing concrete problems. 

However, while completely replacing the concrete slab is an option that may be necessary if the concrete slab is extremely cracked and essentially no longer salvageable, it’s typically not your best option. If you don’t tackle the underlying problems causing sinking concrete slabs, complete replacement isn’t going to fix your problems, and it may even make them worse.  

  • Mudjacking 

Traditionally, mud jacking, which is also called slab jacking or pressure grouting, was what many homeowners considered the best option for raising a sinking concrete slab. Essentially, with mud jacking, the construction crew pumps a concrete slurry mixture through a hole in the top of the concrete. The slurry then sets like traditional concrete and is supposed to hold the concrete slab up. 

The first problem with this is that it doesn’t raise a sinking concrete slab; instead, it just stops it from falling any further. There are also other problems, like the fact that the mixture can require weeks to set, the fact that it doesn’t cover the entire space underneath the concrete slab, and the fact that it’s extremely heavy, sometimes actually resulting in worsening settling problems. 

  • Polyurethane Foam Injections 

If you want the most cutting-edge fix for a sinking concrete slab, you’ll want to look into polyurethane foam injections. With this solution, which Indiana Foundation Service uses through PolyRenewalTM injections, it’s possible to truly lift the slab back to its original position in the least invasive way possible. 

PolyRenewalTM is an expansive polyurethane foam that an expert can inject underneath your sinking concrete slab. The expert will calculate the precise amount of polyurethane foam injection required to fill the area and expand enough to push the slab back to the original position, then inject it through a dime-sized hole. In as little as an hour, it’ll set well enough for you to park your car on top of it. 

Biggest Reasons to Fix the Problem Early 

Even if you now see the benefits of fixing sinking concrete slabs, you might not see the importance of fixing them as early as possible. However, fixing slabs early is crucial. Here are a few benefits that you’ll see if you fix the problem early.  

  • Less Chance of Needing Replacement 

Possibly most importantly is the fact that when you fix your sinking concrete slabs early on, you’re less likely to eventually need to replace the slab. Slab replacement is something that might be necessary for an extremely damaged and cracked concrete slab, but if you handle the problem early, you can avoid a complete replacement. 

Overall, replacement is expensive, difficult, and may not fix the problem entirely, especially if you don’t do it properly. Even though it’s the only option for some situations, you want to avoid concrete slab replacement if at all possible. Fixing the problem early on will let you raise the concrete slab before you have to replace it completely.  

  • No Issues with Tripping or Balance 

One of the more subtle problems that can occur with a sinking concrete slab is that you might end up with serious tripping and balance issues. This is most common with homeowners who have mobility issues, including elderly individuals, young children, and anyone who uses mobility aids, but anyone can end up tripping on a concrete slab that’s sticking out a bit too far. 

It might not seem like a big problem, but it only takes one time falling while bringing in groceries to recognize what a big deal this can be. Plus, it also means that you don’t have to worry about any balancing issues, especially when it comes to adding furniture to outside concrete areas like your patio.  

  • Fewer Structural Concerns 

Finally, one of the most important things that you’ll get when you fix the problem early is that you’re going to run into fewer structural concerns overall. In general, structural concerns are something that can arise when you have a problem that you don’t tackle, and sinking concrete slabs are something that can exacerbate structural problems. 

For example, if you don’t handle a sinking concrete slab, you can eventually run into wall cracks in your basement and the rest of your home, external cracks all along your walls, and water coming into your basement, causing high levels of moisture and therefore mold. If you handle the problem early, however, you’re less likely to run into these structural concerns. 

Sinking Concrete Slab

FAQs

Concrete sinking is a complicated process that doesn’t have just one cause. However, there are two main reasons that you might run into when it comes to understanding the reasons for concrete sinking.  

  • Soil Washout and Water 

Water, in general, can be very damaging to concrete, but one of the greater issues can be soil washout. Essentially, with soil washout, water runs underneath the slab of concrete and picks up tiny particles of the soil, carrying them out from underneath the concrete slab. Over time, this can lead to a significant lack of soil underneath a concrete slab, making it unstable and tilted. 

In general, if water gets into the soil underneath the concrete, it’s also possible for the water to cause it to expand. This is especially the case with clay-type soils. Then, when the water seeps out again, it’ll retract, causing the concrete to sink back into its original position. This push-and-pull process with the soil can be immensely harmful to the concrete slab and eventually result in the concrete slab sinking.  

  • Problems with Preparing the Soil 

It’s also possible for the problem to arise simply from not preparing the soil appropriately. When a construction crew gets ready to build a home, they tamp down the soil in preparation. However, if they aren’t able to tamp down the soil enough, they may end up leaving some amount of sinking for the concrete after they pour it. 

Homes often weigh many tons, which is why this tamping down process is so important. If there’s any amount of soil that isn’t appropriately compressed, the home’s weight will slowly compress the soil on its own. That compression can end up causing serious issues, including sinking concrete slabs.

You might not be completely convinced that a sinking concrete slab is a problem that you need to worry about. There are multiple problems that you might experience due to sinking concrete slabs that you need to pay attention to.  

  • Foundation Concerns 

A sinking concrete slab isn’t just something that you can brush off. It can cause very serious foundation concerns, such as cracking walls, stuck windows and doors, and, in some cases, even the collapse of support joists. When it comes to basement concrete, it can open the door for leaking and mold formation. 

Essentially, sinking concrete slabs showcase that the area underneath your concrete slab has a problem. Whether that problem is soil washout, soil preparation, or even just an issue with the initial home construction, a sinking concrete slab should be a sign that your foundation needs repair or the soil needs evaluating.  

  • Issues with Tripping and Falling 

Tripping and falling might not seem like a very big issue to you in general, but as a matter of fact, it can be a serious concern. This is especially true for homeowners who have mobility issues, but if you miss the ledge just once, you’ll see why it’s important for everyone. 

When your concrete slab is sinking, one of the most obvious signs is when you start feeling unsteady while standing on top of it. This can lead to stumbles for even the most sure-footed person. Sinking concrete may also develop cracks, which can catch shoes or even toes, leading to wounds or nasty falls. Even the uneven nature of a sinking slab can make it difficult to traverse stairs or steps at any kind of speed. 

Every area has different potential problems. This is especially true when it comes to problems like sinking concrete, which can have many different reasons for their proliferation. In Indiana, these are two of the things that can cause sinking concrete issues most frequently.  

  • Snow 

Because Indiana sometimes experiences snow, you need to be aware of any problems that can happen due to snow. Freezing is an especially important one. If water gets into minuscule cracks in a concrete slab, then freezes, it can expand those cracks, causing your concrete cracks to get much more prominent and much more worrying. 

Another problem has to do with the way the snow will melt. When the snow melts, it tends to do so relatively slowly. That thin trickle of water coming from the melting snow is more likely to run underneath your concrete slab and cause soil washout.  

  • Clay Soils 

Indiana sometimes struggles with clay soils. Although it’s not as common to see sandy soils in Indiana as it may be in more beachy areas, clay soils continue to be a problem in some areas of the state. If your home is on clay soil, you might need to talk to an expert about how to mitigate issues with shifting, sinking, and even cracks in your concrete. 

Clay soils are expansive soils, which means they tend to expand more when they come into contact with water. If any of your concrete slabs rest on clay soils, you might need to put defensive features into place to make sure the expanding and contracting nature of the clay soil won’t impact the health of your concrete slab. 

Have a Local Expert Fix Your Concrete Sinking Problems 

If you’re noticing concrete sinking, even if it doesn’t seem like a big deal, it’s a good idea to get an expert to figure out what could be happening and the solutions available to you. The good news is that you can have someone come in to help you understand what’s going on in your home, even if you’re not sure what it is yet. 

Homeowners who are currently dealing with concrete sinking can contact Indiana Foundation Service to schedule a free inspection. No matter what problems you’re experiencing, you can benefit from a free inspection and a no-obligation quote to get a better picture of how your concrete can get back to looking brand new. 

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