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Soil Shrinkage, Compaction, and Settling

The soil supporting your concrete is especially important to your concrete’s overall health. Here are some common causes of soil erosion that lead to shrinking, compacting together, and settling.

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Though concrete is quite tough, it is not indestructible. It is imperative to take measures to protect it from moisture and other types of damage it will eventually face. Any solutions that protect the concrete itself will often not take the supporting soil underneath into account. This can result in this crucial soil washing out during a storm and later shrinking and compacting together once that water drains out again. Your concrete slabs might also settle further into the ground without the support of this soil. 

It might not seem like soil is all that strong, but it is a vital part of your concrete’s overall health. If measures to protect the soil as well as your concrete slabs aren’t taken, you will face damage sooner rather than later. One of the most common causes of this damage is soil shrinkage and compaction, which can make your concrete slabs settle and become uneven. 

Let’s take a closer look into the causes of concrete damage, how soil shrinkage, compaction, and settling can lead to concrete damage, and what concrete lifting repair solutions Foundation Repair of Western Colorado can offer your home. 

Common Causes of Concrete Damage 

Though being able to spot signs of concrete damage is useful, it does not necessarily prevent damage that has already been done. It might be even more useful for the average homeowner to know what causes this damage in the first place. 

Soil Shrinkage and Compaction 

Your concrete slabs are only as tough as the supporting soil underneath. This soil needs to be compact to be able to continue to support these heavy slabs. More compact soils can bear heavier loads. This supporting soil can be affected by all sorts of issues, namely shrinkage and compaction that can cause the concrete slabs to shift, settle, or crack apart altogether. 

Soil shrinkage is often confined to the upper layers of the soil, or at least, the layers that remain after washout. Once the water evaporates or drains out, the soil will then start to shrink in on itself and leave your concrete slabs without an even layer of supporting soil. If the weight of your concrete slabs is not properly distributed across the remaining soil, the slabs might then begin to settle and even crack. 

According to the Soil Science Society of America, Colorado has mainly Seitz soil, which means that this soil is mostly compact clay loam with some sandy loam mixed in. Clay is the most compact component of any soil, which makes it perfect for supporting the extremely heavy concrete slabs around your home. 

Clay also has its downsides, too. Clay soils tend to swell once they absorb a lot of water. Even if clay is one of the more compact materials in soil, it will still have small gaps or pockets where water can seep through. Because it takes a long time for water to wash through clay, the soil itself will then begin to swell the more water it takes on. 

Additionally, sandy soils are more easily washed-out during storms, which leaves your concrete with even less support. The remaining soil may then start to shrink once the water has evaporated or drained away. This soil will also start to compact closer together as it shrinks, too. While compaction in the soil is normally a good thing, it can also mean that your concrete slabs will then have less surface area keeping it lifted and thus be more likely to settle, shift out of its original position, or crack apart. 

Shrinkage can also occur when the natural groundwater around your home depletes or when tree roots spread out and suck up all the water for their own growth. There are plenty of ways this soil-concrete weight distribution can be interrupted and cause the slabs themselves to face damage. 

Shrunken soils also tend to swell up faster after that long dry spell and the cycle continues. Your soil may continue to swell and shrink with the seasons. If this happens enough times, your concrete will face plenty of damage over the years. This is commonly referred to as the swell-shrinkage phenomenon and will continue to affect your concrete slabs and soil alike if you do not take steps to protect either. 

Fortunately, Foundation Repair of Western Colorado can offer your home a comprehensive waterproofing repair solution that will tackle both your sunken or cracked concrete slabs and the rest of the supporting soil underneath. 

Soil Washout 

Huge storms and inches of melted snow can easily seep through your concrete down to the supporting soil underneath. This can easily wash away a good majority of this soil and leave your concrete without the support it needs to stay nice and level. As a result, the concrete might then start to settle once the water has evaporated or drained away. 

This can also occur with your foundation as well. When contractors first go about building your foundation, they will need to dig a large hole in that area. Once they place the foundation as well as your basement, there is typically some space left around both structures. The contractors will then backfill some of the soil they dug back around this space. 

This then creates a clay bowl of sorts surrounding your foundation. This soil is much looser than it once was, which means it is more likely to wash out in the event of a storm. Without this crucial support, your foundation itself will start to settle, shift, or crack. This phenomenon is referred to as the clay bowl effect and is unfortunately a common form of foundation damage. 

hydrostatic pressure

Hydrostatic Pressure 

It is possible that the soil around your foundation has absorbed more water than it is able to hold as well. As a result, this can create added pressure against your foundation that might be too heavy for it to handle. The foundation might then shift out of its original placement or even crack altogether. This common phenomenon is known as hydrostatic pressure. 

Hydrostatic pressure will also have another form, too. Should any water droplets become trapped in your concrete’s pores, it can become a problem come winter. These droplets might then freeze over and expand into ice. This ice will easily crack your concrete slabs apart from within. 

Concrete Lifting Problem Signs 

Spotting concrete damage will usually be quite easy for any homeowner to pick out. Here are some of the most common concrete problem signs you might spot around your home. 

Uneven Concrete 

Any uneven slabs will stick out from the rest. They might sink lower than the rest of the slabs around your house, which can create a dangerous tripping hazard for anyone walking across your concrete. Any stubbed toes, scrapes, and bruises you might get from tripping will not be the only damage your family might face. 

This concrete damage can easily spread down to your concrete foundation, too. Once that happens, the rest of your home’s infrastructure is sure to show signs of damage as well. The repairs to your foundation as well as the other structures around your home can be extremely costly, which is why it is ideal to contact a professional as soon as you notice it.  

Unfortunately, some uneven slabs might be too subtle for most homeowners to notice. It is best to wait until after a storm to tell if your concrete is truly uneven or not. Puddles that gather during or a little after the storm has passed will eventually wash away to a nearby drain if your concrete is truly even. However, if you notice small pools of water gathered in pockets around your concrete long after the storm has passed, this is a sign that your concrete has become uneven. 

Cracked Concrete 

Cracks around your concrete are the most obvious signs of concrete damage. These cracks are often a sign of much deeper damage than what you might see on the surface. 

Indeed, if you leave any cracks alone for too long, they can expand out further and even affect your home’s infrastructure via your foundation. It may help to know which types of cracks you may leave alone for the time being and which you cannot ignore at all. 

Cracks that measure less than 1/8 of an inch wide can be left alone for a brief period while you schedule an appointment with the concrete experts at Foundation Repair of Western Colorado. These are commonly referred to as hairline cracks and are relatively harmless in comparison to much larger cracks that will pose more of a threat to your home. 

Cracks that measure anywhere between 1/8 inches and 1/4 inches wide are a bit trickier. They may be left alone if you truly do not have the time to repair them, but they also should not be ignored for very long at the risk that they might expand even further. 

Cracks that measure larger than 1/4 inches wide, however, cannot be ignored whatsoever. These larger cracks can present a threat to your home, especially if they spread down to your foundation. 

Concrete Lifting Repair Solutions 

It might seem impossible to lift and level out your heavy concrete slabs again. Fortunately, Foundation Repair of Western Colorado has a powerful concrete lifting solution guaranteed to lift and level all your concrete with ease: our PolyRenewal™ injection foam. 

PolyRenewal™ Injection Foam Solution 

Foundation Repair of Western Colorado can offer your home a waterproof, lightweight foam solution that we will inject directly into your concrete. This powerful foam can easily lift and level out your concrete slabs just as easily as any other heavy solution and then some. Any cracks that have spread along the concrete will close after installation. It will also protect the supporting soil underneath, preventing any storms from washing it out as well as soil shrinkage. 

Some homeowners might think that this solution might mess with their current landscaping or the soil underneath. No need to worry about that. The PolyRenewal™ injection foam solution is made of eco-friendly materials that will fill any pockets or voids left by wash out but not negatively affect your landscaping or other plants in any way. 

Installation of this solution will not disrupt any other structures around your home. In fact, it is a relatively clean and quiet process, unlike plenty of other concrete lifting solutions you might find out there. 

Another great benefit of this solution is that it will cure in no more than 15 – 30 minutes. This means you will be able to enjoy a perfectly lifted and leveled concrete floor or sidewalk in no time at all.

Soil Shrinkage, Compaction, and Settling

FAQs

Many homeowners might still doubt that soil can carry concrete over it at all. Let’s take a closer look into how contractors rely on the soil around your home to support concrete and its construction below. 

Soil Type 

When contractors first build a house, they will look into the soil around the area they plan to build on. Though compact soils tend to work best for construction, contractors will not always have the best soil available and will often have to build on these weaker soils anyway. Fortunately, the mostly clay loam of Colorado is perfect for building on as it can bear heavy weights. 

This does not mean that these compact soils are completely invulnerable from washing out, however. Protecting your soil is still an important part of waterproofing your concrete. You need to call the experts at Foundation Repair of Western Colorado to implement a repair solution that can do both. 

Soil Layers 

If the contractors do not have strong soil to build on, they may then look into the layers of soil. It is possible the top layer (also referred to as the subgrade layer) may not suffice as enough support. They might then need to dig deeper to find more stable support in other layers underneath this weaker top layer. 

Contractors may also decide to bypass this step and instead create an artificial layer made up of gravel instead. This artificial layer is commonly called the sub-base layer. Its main function is to absorb any groundwater that wells up or at the very least slows down its flow. This prevents this water from washing out the loose top layer. Contractors may add more base layers on top of this to ensure that your foundation will not be affected by any moisture damage, at least for some time. 

Most homeowners will want to attempt to fix any damage their home faces by themselves. However, concrete damage is not something many homeowners are equipped to handle. It is best to leave any concrete repairs you might need to the experts at Foundation Repair of Western Colorado instead. 

Why DIY Repairs Will Not Work 

There are plenty of supposed concrete lifting solutions that home improvement stores will try to sell to you. Unfortunately, these solutions offer temporary relief, at best. This is because these solutions may not be fully waterproof, nor will they tackle the supporting soil underneath. They might even wash out with the soil during a storm. You need a waterproofing solution that will work to protect both the concrete slabs above and the soil below. 

Lifting concrete also takes a lot of precision. Even a small slip-up can lead to your concrete slabs settling again or becoming more uneven. It is best to leave any concrete repairs to the experts at Foundation Repair of Western Colorado. We will be able to precisely lift and level your concrete so that it will never face any settling issues ever again. 

Foundation Repair of Western Colorado’s concrete lifting solutions are all powerful solutions in their own right. However, there may be some solutions we have that will work better for your unique home than others. 

Mudjacking and Total Concrete Replacement 

Mudjacking is when concrete experts pump cement or mud slurry down into your concrete through large holes drilled into the slab. The holes drilled into your concrete where the slurry is poured through will leave unsightly spots along the slabs that might hurt your curb appeal. This slurry is also heavy and may even drag your concrete slabs back down again over time. 

Total concrete replacement might look nice, but it is also a costly and time-consuming process. Depending on the extent of the initial damage, it may take anywhere between a few days to a few weeks to completely set down and cure new concrete slabs. You might not be able to use these slabs in the meantime, either. There is also the added problem of this replacement not tackling the cause of this damage in the first place. If your soil experiences any shrinkage or compaction issues again, this will just cause these new slabs to settle and crack all over again. 

PolyRenewal™ Injection Foam Solution 

Our PolyRenewal™ solution is truly the best concrete lifting solution available. Unlike those other concrete repair solutions that weigh around 120 pounds per cubic foot, the lightweight foam will not drag your concrete slabs down over time. All our experts need to do is inject this foam into your concrete and it will quickly lift and level out the slabs in no time. 

Another great benefit of this foam solution is the fact that it will protect the soil underneath your concrete as well. It will fill in any sinkholes and voids left by soil washout to compact the soil back together. It is also waterproof and eco-friendly, which means you do not have to worry about it washing out or ruining your landscaping during a huge storm. 

Contact Concrete Lifting Experts at Foundation Repair of Western Colorado Today 

The concrete experts at Foundation Repair of Western Colorado have plenty of experience lifting and leveling out concrete all over Grand Junction, Colorado. We also have all the right tools and equipment necessary for a job as tough as this. You can rely on us to get your concrete perfectly lifted and leveled out in no time at all. The supporting soil underneath will also be protected by our tough waterproofing solutions. 

Contact the concrete experts at Foundation Repair of Western Colorado for a free concrete inspection today. We can also offer you free quotes on all our powerful concrete lifting repair solutions while we are there! 

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