No matter how well constructed your driveway or patio is, it may crack, lift, or settle over time. This can happen for a number of reasons.
One issue is that a heavy object, such as a vehicle, can damage concrete over time. Damage can also come from underneath, as tree roots grow and shift the soil. Additionally, heat causes concrete to expand, which can cause damage if there isn’t adequate space around it. Finally, when too much water is mixed with cement, concrete may crack as the water evaporates.
Fixing the problem
No matter the cause, cracks and uneven sections tend to worsen over time, so you’ll want to fix them as soon as possible. Fortunately, materials have improved over the years, so fixes to your driveway and patio are more likely to work than in the past.
That’s because leveling cement has traditionally been done with mudjacking, a technique that involves drilling holes the width of soda cans into settled concrete slabs. A cement slurry is then pumped into the holes to fill voids below the slab and lift it back up. The issue with mudjacking is that the material takes a long time to harden, and the difficulty involved in controlling its flow can cause additional damage.
Fortunately, an alternative solution called PolyLevel is lightweight, waterproof, stable, and cures quickly. This technique involves drilling 5/8-inch holes, and then injecting two liquids through a nozzle that, when blended, trigger a chemical reaction that creates an expanding, high-density foam.
“The foam flows into voids and between loose soil particles, expanding to about 15 times its initial volume,” according to Arizona Foundation Solutions. “This expansive action effectively lifts settled concrete. An experienced technician, like those at Arizona Foundation Solutions, can control the application to create just the right amount of raising pressure.”
The hardening foam reaches 90% of its final strength within 30 minutes of application. The holes are then cleaned and patched with cement.
“PolyLevel’s light weight makes it useful where denser fill material might impose an undesirable load on weak soils,” according to Arizona Foundation Solutions. “Despite its light weight, PolyLevel can support substantial loads; it typically provides greater lifting power than mudjacking.”
The stable, waterproof properties of PolyLevel are advantageous in Arizona, where expansive soils are known for causing cracks in cement during monsoon season. Expansive soils are characterized by their clay concentration and capacity for expanding in volume when wet, and then shrinking as they dry.
“Expansion of clay minerals can cause walls and foundations to crack and roads and sidewalks to warp, in a manner similar to frost heaving,” according to the Arizona Geological Survey. “The first sign of expanding soil beneath a building may be misalignment of doors and windows. Another indication of soil expansion is when patio or driveway slabs buckle or move away from the house.”
A PolyLevel injection can help cement resist the heave of wet soil to some extent and will not absorb water itself. It can also be injected into soil prior to construction to improve the soil’s strength and stability. PolyLevel is environmentally safe and can be injected as deep as 20 to 30 feet, according to Arizona Foundation Solutions.
Sunken sidewalks and driveways aren’t just unsightly, they are safety hazards. If you have questions about whether your patio or driveway would benefit from PolyLevel, Arizona Foundation Solutions can help. Call 480-531-8694 for a free consultation with one of the company’s experts.