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Uneven Driveway and Sidewalk

Your driveway and exterior sidewalks are often the first areas to be damaged when there are problems with the soil around your home.

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When you are trying to stay on top of your home’s condition, it can be easy to overlook small signs of damage like cracks and unevenness in your exterior sidewalks or driveway. While these issues can seem relatively small when put in comparison with internal damage and issues, we urge you not to ignore them. These kinds of issues are very often problem signs for more serious damage on the way. By acting quickly, you could catch problems before they snowball and become widespread issues that impact your whole home. 

These days, there are many options for concrete lifting and cosmetic repair to concrete surfaces. With the right team on your side, you will see quick and effective results with minimal stress and hassle 

uneven sidewalk slabs

What Causes Uneven Concrete Driveway and Sidewalk Slabs? 

There are a number of issues that can contribute to the creation of an uneven driveway and sidewalk slabs around your home. The most common, however, have to do with the creation of the concrete, the support it receives, and the way in which it is used. 

Soil Problems 

As is so often the case, the main cause of damage to driveways and sidewalks around homes in Raleigh and Winston-Salem, NC, is some kind of issue in the soil. This should come as no surprise. After all, every structure ultimately relies on the ground beneath it for support. Weak, loose, eroding, or expansive soil can cause many issues. 

Soil erosion and washout are the most likely culprits when it comes to an uneven driveway or exterior sidewalk. These issues are fairly common in the state because of how common loose, light loam-based soil is in this area. When this soil becomes unhealthy, incredibly dehydrated, or very saturated, there is a chance that it will be simply swept or washed away. This will leave gaps beneath surfaces like concrete slabs and driveways, eventually leading to sinking. 

While less common, expansive soils are present in North Carolina and come with a unique set of issues. Concrete driveways and sidewalks found on top of expansive soil can be subject to sinking or settlement when the soil is very dehydrated, but when it is saturated or a sudden cold snap causes it to freeze, they may heave upward. 

Concrete Defects 

Concrete is a very common building material for various reasons. It is strong, durable, weather-resistant, and incredibly easy to tailor to the needs of a specific project. However, this leaves it vulnerable to possible defects when the people mixing or laying it are not skilled or knowledgeable enough. In fact, sometimes all it takes is a simple mistake. Broadly speaking, there are two main ways in which a defect can take root in concrete. First and foremost, there can be a mistake in the mixing process. Secondly, there can be improper laying methods. 

Concrete is, at its heart, just a mix of rock aggregate, cement, and water. If the ratios of water to rock or sand are off, or there are certain minerals present in the aggregate, the concrete may be weaker than is generally desirable. Usually, this causes cosmetic issues like staining, pitting, flaking, and spalling, but it can also make the concrete more vulnerable to cracking. 

When concrete is first poured, it is incredibly malleable. While it can take days or weeks to harden, concrete quickly loses its flexibility once it starts to set. One of the most common causes of weakness and defects in concrete is the use of improper compaction methods after it has started to cure. This results in inconsistent distribution of water and can make the concrete weaker. 

Poor Weight Distribution 

This issue mostly applies to driveways. If you have large, heavy vehicles and you leave them parked in one position on the driveway for a long time, the driveway could start to sink. This should not happen, but it is important to remember that these structures are designed with a general weight limit in mind. Older homes, in particular, may face this issue if the driveway was not designed to cope with the load being placed on it. 

Sinking, uneven, or damaged driveway or sidewalk slabs can be problem signs for any of these issues, but they are also potential warnings for more widespread problems on the horizon 

What This Means for Your Home 

If you notice damage to your sidewalk or driveway, it is important that you act quickly. You see, these kinds of issues very rarely stand alone. Unless the concrete of these structures is the problem, the most likely cause is issues within the soil under your home, and that has wider implications that you cannot afford to ignore. 

Foundation Damage Could be on the Way 

When the soil around your home is weak, loose, unstable, or unhealthy in some way, it is very likely that your foundation is also suffering some blowback. If it is not already, then it is likely that it will start to over time. The most common foundational problems that are associated with soil-based issues are subsidence and settlement. 

Foundation subsidence and settlement are really two sides of the same coin; they both result in part of your property’s foundation tilting or sinking into the ground. However, subsidence is generally caused by weak or excessively wet soil that is incapable of supporting the weight of your home. This causes a process of sinking that is usually uneven, and it is the pressure created by this uneven sinking that most often causes the real damage to your property’s structure. 

Settlement, by contrast, is a process by which sections of a foundation break away and sink into voids in the earth beneath it. This is most often caused by the shrinking of expansive soil when it is extremely dehydrated. However, settlement can also be caused by advanced soil erosion or washout. Whatever the damage looks like, however it starts, foundation problems are expensive to repair and will only get worse over time. As such, it is better to act quickly. 

Your Yard Could be Suffering 

Whether you are an avid gardener or not, it is generally preferable to have a yard that is healthy and presentable, both for personal enjoyment and general curb appeal. If you are noticing that the soil on your property is having a hard time supporting your driveway and sidewalks, however, your yard is likely to start suffering pretty quickly. 

Soil that is eroding or washing away is certainly troubled, but once the process is advanced, it will become increasingly fallow. This means that you will have trouble growing much of anything around your home. You may start to see bald spots in your lawn, and as time passes, this will only make the issues of soil erosion and washout worse. This is why it is better to take care of the problem when you first see it. 

There are many different secondary and tertiary issues that could arise as a result of issues in the soil around your home. Nipping the issue in the bud is therefore the best option for you and your property. Concrete lifting is just part of the overall solution. 

Why You Should Consider Concrete Lifting Services 

Concrete lifting services take many forms. When you have the right team of professionals on your side, they can be minimally invasive and very cost-effective. There are many benefits to choosing repair and lifting services as opposed to simply replacing the damaged concrete. 

uneven driveway concretedriveway after polyrenewal install

Value for Money 

Concrete driveway lifting and repair are far more accessible and cost-effective than concrete replacement. This is partly because of non-invasive methods of concrete lifting and resurfacing that make use of the damaged surface while providing a flawless finish. However, it is also important to remember that replacement requires the total excavation of the old concrete before new concrete can be laid. 

Furthermore, replacement does not address the underlying causes of damage to a concrete sidewalk or driveway. As such, recurrence is almost guaranteed unless you also take extra measures to address the underlying problems that have been affecting the driveway. Lifting and repair methods, however, are designed to take these factors into consideration as well. This means you get a permanent result the first time you address the issue. 

Cosmetic Appearance 

There is no shame in being house-proud. Wanting your home to look its best, even to passersby on the street, is perfectly normal. Concrete lifting services restore the beauty of your property while making your driveway or sidewalk safe and stable again. This is not just a benefit for you; it can also have real-world implications. 

This is especially important if you intend to sell your home in the near future. Having a sunken, cracked, or uneven driveway or sidewalk on your property can negatively impact the curb appeal and value of your home. In fact, it could even put off prospective buyers. As such, concrete driveway or sidewalk lifting and repair is a sound investment. 

Safety 

Your safety and well-being, as well as the safety of your family and friends, should always be foremost in your mind. Uneven, cracked, unstable, or sunken concrete is dangerous in more ways than one. As well as presenting risks to your vehicle’s health, an uneven driveway presents a tripping or falling hazard to you and anyone else on your property. 

These kinds of hazards disproportionately affect the elderly, the very young, and those who have disabilities, mobility issues, or issues with their sight and coordination. For these people, an uneven driveway or sidewalk could mean a trip to the emergency room. As such, it is incredibly important to deal with the unevenness and damage when you first spot it. 

If you prioritize a full, professional investigation when you spot the first signs of damage around your home, you are likely to save yourself a lot of time, money, and worry. Whatever you do, however, please do not attempt concrete lifting processes alone. Structural repairs are incredibly difficult to get right, and an amateur job could do far more harm than good if you are not careful. Leave the heavy lifting to the experts and you will be rewarded for your investment. Once repaired, your uneven driveway or sidewalk should never give you trouble again.

Uneven Driveway and Sidewalk

FAQs

An uneven, damaged, or sinking driveway or concrete sidewalk can be dangerous in a number of different ways. Sometimes, however, a damaged driveway or sidewalk is dangerous because of what it represents, rather than what it might cause. 

Personal Injury and Vehicle Damage 

An uneven, sinking, or damaged driveway or sidewalk can represent a real risk to your health and well-being. Uneven or unstable surfaces pose a real risk of tripping and falling for anyone who uses them. Of course, those who are most at risk of both falling and a serious injury as a result of a fall are the elderly, the very young, and those who have physical disabilities or mobility issues. 

Another possible issue that can be caused by an uneven driveway is damage to your vehicle. This is more likely if you leave your vehicle on the driveway for long periods of time or if the joining point between your driveway and the street has a harsh seam. The constant jarring of driving over this seam, or the pressure of sitting at a strange angle for long periods of time, can damage the suspension of a car and cause uneven wear on the tires. 

A Warning 

Your driveway and exterior sidewalks are subject to many of the same issues and pressures as your property’s foundation. As such, these more exposed areas can act as a representative of what may be happening with your foundation at any given time. If you notice that the soil under your driveway seems to be having problems in bearing the weight of the driveway and vehicles, for example, this is a warning sign. 

If the soil under your driveway or sidewalk is struggling to support it, there is a very strong chance that the soil under your home is going to have problems supporting the full weight of the structure. As such, it would be wise to investigate your whole home when you see signs of structural damage in your driveway or exterior sidewalks. You could save yourself a lot of trouble in the long run by doing this.

As with all kinds of damage, the sooner you address a sunken, uneven, or cracked driveway and sidewalk slabs around your home, the easier and cheaper it will be. We understand that it can seem over the top to call in experts to deal with a slight tilt or small cracks, but there are benefits to this. 

Fixing Problems Immediately Has Benefits 

Acting quickly has many benefits, but the most obvious are the reduced cost and time it takes to fix small issues. Dealing with a problem as soon as you notice it will also ensure that any co-occurring issues do not have time to grow and spread. In fact, it could even prevent secondary and tertiary problems from taking root in the first place (especially if you take steps to deal with the underlying cause). 

In the case of driveway and sidewalk damage around your home, there are many other issues that could be tied to or caused by the same underlying causes. As such, it is advisable to call in a professional as soon as you notice spreading cracks or sunken sections. Be sure to ask your inspector to look for other signs of damage around your property, too. 

The Longer You Wait, The Worse It Will Get 

The problem with waiting until a problem gets worse before you deal with it is that you will have no control over how the issue spreads. There is no guarantee, for example, that a concrete sidewalk that has sunk just a little will continue to sink in the same way. It could start to break apart under the pressure. When this happens, it could have many repercussions. 

For example, a concrete slab that has been entirely shattered or that has broken down into many pieces may no longer be eligible for lifting and repair. Instead, it may need to be removed and entirely replaced. This is a far more costly and time-consuming process, which will still require extra work to address the underlying cause of the initial damage. Simply replacing the concrete would result in the eventual recurrence of the issue. 

If you have noticed damage to your driveway or property sidewalk, and you want to lift or generally repair the concrete, there are a number of options at your disposal. Getting the right solution for you the first time around can make all the difference. 

PolyRenewal™ Foam Injection 

PolyRenewal™ polyurethane foam is by far the most popular concrete lifting product on the market right now. As well as being incredibly easy to tailor to the specific needs of the situation, it is very lightweight, water-resistant, and incredibly strong. With all this in mind, it should really be no surprise to hear that this is the option most likely to be suggested. 

The installation process for this concrete lifting solution is simple, but it does require expert involvement. This is because of the way in which the two-part foam is mixed. The foam can be mixed to provide a specific level of expansion and expansive force. This means that it can be injected directly under the affected concrete without the need for excavation. 

Why Choose PolyRenewal

While there are other options, namely replacing the affected concrete entirely, PolyRenewal is a more efficient and cost effective way to lift, level, and repair uneven driveways and sidewalks. As well as removing the need for concrete replacement (which is expensive, time-consuming, and will not address the underlying condition), PolyRenewal has some benefits which older methods of concrete repair do not. 

Unlike mudjacking slurry, for example, PolyRenewal foam is lightweight, waterproof, and inert, meaning that it will not damage the soil under affected concrete any further. The excessive weight and porous nature of cement is one of the many reasons that mudjacking is ineffective, after all, and polyurethane foam has none of these properties. PolyRenewal is also a quicker process which is less disruptive to your day to day life.

Tar Heel Basement Systems Make Driveway and Sidewalk Lifting Easy 

Lifting your driveway and sidewalk slabs back into place is only half of the battle—you also need to ensure that they stay where you put them indefinitely. This is where professionals like us come in. A concrete lifting specialist will ensure that you get the best possible results while addressing the underlying causes of the damage. Here at Tar Heel Basement Systems, we know what it takes to return a driveway or sidewalk to full health. No matter how complex the issue may seem, we can assure you that we are ready, able, and willing to deal with it. 

We have helped thousands of homeowners since we first opened our doors in 2003, and remain dedicated to providing the best possible results to every customer. If you have noticed damage to your driveway or exterior sidewalks, please do not hesitate to contact us to schedule your free inspection and repair quote

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Our Service Areas

GREENSBORO / WINSTON-SALEM / HIGH POINT AREA

2910 Griffith Rd
Winston-Salem, NC 27103
336-283-2984

RALEIGH / DURHAM / CHAPEL HILL AREA

3333 Air Park Road
Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526

984-255-7529