If you’ve noticed that your driveway has started to sink into the ground, there are ways to remedy it from further settlement. These include lifting options that will help you protect your foundation in the future—and also cost less than a complete driveway repair.
Sinking Concrete: The Causes
The concrete making up your driveway can start to sink for a variety of reasons. Despite its strength, concrete is surprisingly vulnerable to several forces, including:
- Hydrostatic Pressure
The term “hydrostatic pressure” refers to the influence that water can have on the concrete structures around your home. Groundwater and rainwater, as they gather in your soil, can press up against structures like your driveway and foundation. That water can cause your concrete to change in temperature. In response to those changes, the molecules that make up your concrete can expand and contract.
While a little bit of rain isn’t going to damage your driveway, long-term exposure to hydrostatic pressure can cause your concrete to crack as it tries to contend with the stress of its structural changes. As your driveway cracks, it will more readily sink into the damp ground.
- Tree Roots
If you’re buying an home that’s already built, it’s not easy to control where trees and their roots have decided to settle. Even if you’re building your own home, you might not be thinking about the impact a younger tree’s roots may have on your driveway’s structural integrity as it grows.
Unfortunately, tree roots can readily disrupt the structural integrity of your driveway. If you plant a tree too close to your driveway, that tree’s roots can disrupt the soil beneath, leaving gaps in their wake. In turn, your driveway can start to sink into those gaps. Eventually, you may find yourself staring down an uneven drive that’s been cracked or otherwise entirely disabled by the presence of nearby trees. In these cases, it is often in your best interest to both remove the offending trees from their current location and re-level your driveway.
While insects may not have a significant impact on concrete’s structural integrity, certain animals can cause a lot of trouble for you and your driveway. Burrowing animals can leave trails in their wake that cause your driveway to sink.
Rabbits, groundhogs, and other creatures that prefer to live underground can dig burrows that reach up to 45 feet both down and side-to-side. These extreme gaps in the soil beneath your driveway make it all the easier for that concrete to start to sink, even without the help of heavy rains. In these cases, you’ll want to both work with local contractors and animal control to go about saving your driveway. While animal control relocates the animals giving you problems, professional contractors can help you understand what lifting solutions may be available to you.
- Poor Pouring
Sometimes, the concrete contractors who originally laid your driveway may have made mistakes during the process. The pour may be too thick in some areas and too thin in others. Alternatively, the whole line of your drive may take your concrete over land features that naturally encourage your driveway to crack.
In these cases, you can rest assured knowing that the presence of moisture in the air and in your lawn likely hasn’t affected your driveway’s structural integrity. You can still, however, work with the professionals in your area to lift your driveway or to repour it, depending on which solution is best.
Signs of Damage to Watch For
The good news is that your driveway will let you know when it’s started to suffer from any manner of damage. Sinkage, of course, tends to give itself away. You’ll feel as though you’re riding lower to the ground as you head out toward your street. However, you can also look out for:
- Driveway cracks
- Pooling water
- Encroaching greenery or grass
While it is possible for rain to sit on your driveway for a day or two, water should not regularly appear on top of your driveway without cause. If you find yourself contending with standing water on your driveway more than once or twice a month, you’ll want to reach out to the professionals in your area to figure out what may be going wrong.
Fixing A Sunken Driveway: An Introduction to the PolyRenewal™ System
Most contractors will use some manner of slurry to lift your sinking driveway back into place. Innovative Basement Authority, however, opts instead to take advantage of a different material. Our specialists will first drill holes into your concrete slab. With these holes in place, the team will use specialized tools to inject high-density polyurethane foam into the holes, lifting your drive up as they go. Once the job is done and your driveway is level again, then the team will fill the holes they drilled and leave you to your business.
Polyurethane foam serves as a more effective alternative to slurry for several reasons. This material tends to cure faster than normal slurry does, meaning you can drive on your driveway again sooner rather than later. Polyurethane foam also stabilizes the soil beneath your driveway, while slurry tends to only provide a reinforcing effect. Once the ground beneath your driveway has been stabilized, you can rest easy knowing you likely won’t see a similar driveway sinkage.
The Cost of Lifting Your Driveway
It can be difficult to quote the average cost when addressing driveway lifting and repair. Each driveway, after all, has its own quirks. The cost of repairs and lifting will vary based on the driveway’s length, the extent of the damage in question, and the kind of lift you want moving forward.
Work with Driveway Repair Experts at Innovative Basement Authority
If you want to stop your driveway from sinking, the professionals in North Dakota, Minnesota, and eastern Montana can help. You can reach out to Innovative Basement Authority experts to set up a home inspection, during which our team can look at your driveway and let you know what kinds of problems you may be contending with. After looking over your provided free quote, you can opt to lift or repour your driveway while also attending to any other similar damage that may have appeared elsewhere around your property.
Professionals can inject the ground beneath your driveway with the foam that it needs to lift in a matter of hours. That foam will cure more quickly than the slurry that other professionals might prefer to take advantage of. However, just because the process seems straightforward doesn’t mean that it’s easy to finish off.
- How to Lift a Driveway
The methods the team at Innovative Basement Authority use to lift your driveway will vary based on your own preferences. The process, however, does not involve supports or piers, like lifting your foundation or basement floor might. Contractor’s pump concentrated high-density polyurethane foam beneath your driveway to stabilize the ground. As that polyurethane foam comes to set, your driveway will rise back into its original position.
At first glance, this process may seem like an in-and-out job. However, the difficulty of the work directly correlates to the length of your driveway and the degree of sinkage you’ve seen over time. To get a better idea both of how long it will take contractors to lift your driveway and what degree of work the process might require, you can schedule a home inspection with the professionals in your area.
- The Importance of Lifting Your Driveway
Unfortunately, it isn’t in your best interest to leave your driveway unleveled if it has started to sink. Sinking driveways can put the safety of your car and other vehicles at risk. Similarly, a sinking driveway often indicates other concrete structures around your property that may be contending with water damage.
As mentioned, the process of lifting your driveway is relatively straightforward, even if the work isn’t great to take on without professional guidance. The sooner you’re able to reach out to the professionals in your area for help, the sooner they’ll be able to repair your driveway to previous functionality.
The damage done to your driveway is most often caused by unanticipated water damage. If your driveway has succumbed, it is possible that your other concrete facilities may be at risk.
- Moisture’s Impact on Concrete’s Structural Integrity
Hydrostatic pressure can cause your concrete to expand and contract on a molecular level. As your concrete changes in size, the whole of your pour can crack to try and compensate. Cracked concrete is more likely to fall victim to the impact of hydrostatic pressure, meaning as soon as water damages part of your pour, the rest of it is going to be at risk. The cycle tends to feedback on itself, so unless you find a way to waterproof your concrete, you may find yourself contending with this kind of damage even after you invest in a re-pour.
The same cracking and sinking that plagues your driveway can just as readily appear in any of the other concrete structures you have around your property. However, certain structures, like your front patio and pool deck, can suffer from other side effects. For example, any cracks in your pool deck may make the pool itself less safe to swim in. Likewise, mold clusters may start to appear around your pool courtesy of the groundwater making the structure less stable. These types of structures are often placed in direct contact with the rest of your home. As they become less stable, so too may be part of your home.
- Other Potentially Damaged Structures
Concrete is one of the materials most likely to fall victim to this kind of damage, but it isn’t the only material that can. If you don’t make a point of waterproofing the additions you have around your home, you may find yourself contending with sinking, water damage, and related infestations even after you’ve invested in your first round of repairs.
If you don’t want to invest in preventive concrete waterproofing measures, you can instead request that professionals come and inspect your additions on a yearly basis. These annual inspections will help you keep a closer eye on the structural integrity of your:
- Pool deck
- Front porch
- Front steps and sidewalk
There’s always more than one way to secure the concrete structures you have around your home. With that in mind, it may be worth your while to compare two of the most used elevation methods: lifting foam injections and mudjacking.
- Foam Injections
As mentioned, Innovative Basement Authority professionals prefer not to use slurry to elevate your driveway back into its original position. Instead, they use polyurethane foam inserted through holes in your driveway. This foam cures at a faster rate than slurry, meaning you’ll be able to use your driveway sooner than you would if the team used a rock mixture. High-density polyurethane foam also stabilizes the soil beneath your driveway, meaning it will be more difficult for the moisture in your lawn to impact your driveway in the same way again.
You can use polyurethane foam for more than just driveway repair, though. Many contractors like to use this foam to support other concrete structures that may be failing around your lawn. This foam has even been used to shore up sinking foundations, though most often in tandem with other home piering solutions.
The mudjacking process sees professional contractors go through many of the same motions they would while injecting foam beneath your driveway. However, mudjacking sees professionals use a mortar-based slurry instead of foam to support any failing structures around your property.
It isn’t all that common, either, for professionals to use mudjacking to shore up a sinking driveway. This process is more often used when a property’s foundation has begun to slip or sink.
Let Us Repair Your Uneven Driveway
While surface problems can likely be patched, this won’t fix the underlying settlement problem and more cracks can form in your driveway. Although do-it-yourself repairs might be less expensive, they can be messy, require special tools and equipment, and it can be as long as 30 days before you’re able to use your driveway again. No matter what’s causing your driveway to sink, we can fix the problem fast and prevent further sinking with our concrete repair services.
PolyRenewal™ is a fast, effective option for repairing your sunken concrete driveway. First, your contractor will drill small holes in the slab. Then they will inject a high-density polyurethane through the holes. The polymer will spread beneath the slab and lift it up. Finally the holes are patched and the cracks are filled. You’ll be able to use your driveway within one day.
Contact the experts at Innovative Basement Authority today to request your free driveway lifting estimate in Rush City.