Concrete sidewalks are very durable and last for a long time with little maintenance. However, there are still a few things that you can do in order to keep your concrete sidewalk from cracking or spalling (which is when chunks of concrete break away from the slab). Maintaining your concrete sidewalk is also very important for ensuring that it remains safe, as large cracks or an uneven surface can cause pedestrians to trip. Here's what you need to do in order to keep a concrete sidewalk looking its best.
Level Any Uneven Slabs Caused by Settling Soil
The soil underneath your concrete sidewalk will settle over time, causing the slab above it to sink slightly into the ground. Pedestrians can trip over a jutting edge of concrete, and you may be liable for their injuries. Whenever there's a notable difference in height between two adjacent slabs of concrete, it's important to have your sidewalk leveled in order to protect pedestrians from injury.
How can a concrete contractor make your concrete sidewalk level again? Mudjacking is often used to raise a sunken slab that's in good condition. In mudjacking, holes are cut into the concrete, and a limestone or sand slurry is forced underneath, raising its height. The holes are then patched to reduce their visibility. However, this relies on the concrete being whole enough in order for the slurry to raise it evenly. A slab that has significant cracking and spalling (chunks of concrete breaking away) should be removed and re-poured, ensuring that the new concrete is level.
Replace Degraded Expansion Joint Sealant to Prevent Water Damage
You may notice a substance that looks like rubber in the expansion joints on your concrete sidewalk. This is an expansion joint seal. Its purpose is to prevent water from entering underneath the concrete sidewalk through its expansion joints and eroding the soil underneath. When the soil underneath concrete erodes, it can cause the slab above to shift out of position. This can create an uneven walkway that's unsafe for pedestrians.
Unfortunately, expansion joint sealant deteriorates over time and needs to be replaced. You'll know it's time to replace your expansion joint seals when they have a frayed appearance — in some cases, you can even see the ground underneath the expansion joint once a large portion of the seal is worn away. This service can be performed by a concrete contractor.
Repair Small Cracking and Spalling as It Appears, but Call a Professional for Extensive Damage
Shallow cracks should be patched with polyurethane sealant as soon as you notice them. Rain can enter the cracks and slowly erode the concrete, causing the crack to widen over time. Polyurethane sealant waterproofs your concrete slab and prevents damage. Similarly, small areas of spalling need to be fixed with concrete restorer. This putty-like substance is applied to areas of the slab that have spalled and is left to cure, restoring the original appearance of the concrete slab.
However, deep, large cracks and significant spalling are typically a sign that something is wrong with your sidewalk's base. While you can repair these using sealant and restorer, the concrete slab will continue to crack and spall. In order to maintain your sidewalk's appearance, you'll need to call a concrete contractor to repair the base and replace the slab.
Overall, the best thing you can do for your concrete sidewalk is to inspect it frequently. Quickly repair any cracks or spalling that form and make sure your expansion joints remain tightly sealed in order to prevent soil erosion. If you have any uneven slabs or slabs that are badly damaged, call a concrete contractor to have the damaged areas removed and replaced — while sealing small cracks is something you can do on your own, replacing an entire concrete slab is something that is handled best by professionals for a quality result.
For more information, contact a company like E & H Concrete today.
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