The settling and heaving of concrete are the two most common culprits behind cracks appearing on the surface of a concrete structure. Oftentimes, individuals need the eyes of their local concrete contractors to verify what the cause behind the cracking is. Still, it doesn’t hurt to know the difference between settling and cracking. When you know what to look for, you can call in the professionals sooner and tackle the problem early on.
Is Your Concrete Settling?
If you are witnessing the development of new cracks on your driveway or in your basement, there’s a very good chance that your concrete is settling. Settling occurs as a result of different conditions impacting the soil that lies beneath the concrete, such as:
- The soil beneath the concrete wasn’t properly compacted before the concrete was laid.
- The soil has a high clay content.
High clay content can be problematic as the soil and concrete are further exposed to the elements. Rainwater, for instance, can seep into the soil and cause the clay within it to expand. This results in pressure being placed against the concrete, thus leading to cracks. It can also reduce the strength of the concrete and cause it to sink downward.
Because settling happens explicitly at the ground level, at least at first, it’s worth paying mind to your driveway, garage floor, and basement floor. If these areas are showing new cracks, then settling is a likely culprit behind their formation. Consult with concrete contractors in your area to diagnose the cracks and see if they pose any structural risk to your building or driveway.
Is Your Concrete Heaving?
The heaving of concrete is characterized by concrete that has become uneven, heaving upward and cracking as a result. This has to do exclusively with clay-laden soil beneath the concrete.
As we discussed above, soil with a high clay content is very absorbent of water. This means that the soil swells with water when it’s wet and then shrinks back down when dry. These consistent movements are reflected in the surface of the concrete, giving it an uneven and jagged appearance.
Should You Call the Concrete Contractors for Help?
Whether you feel confident diagnosing heaving or settling on your own or not, it never hurts to have the knowing eyes of a professional concrete repair expert on your side. While the visual differences between settling and heaving can be quite stark, there are instances where the signs are a fair bit subtler. Unless you are a concrete expert yourself, it can be impossible to tell the difference.
For this reason, it’s important that you identify cracks when they begin to form and act appropriately. Sometimes these cracks remain superficial and dormant in nature, posing no risk of significant structural damage over time. However, it is also possible that the cracks are active, meaning that they can become worse over time and present a very real risk of damage to your structure. Call your local concrete contractors as soon as you see new cracks forming. This is your best chance of accurately having the issue diagnosed and treated, if necessary.