If you have recently installed a concrete slab, walkway, or driveway, or if you’re thinking of having concrete work done, then you are probably already thinking ahead and worrying about cracks.
Cracks in concrete are only good for childhood games where the fate of your mom’s back is on the line. Other than that, cracks in your concrete are a bad sign. Not only are they unsightly, but the integrity of your concrete work is compromised. Whether in the middle of a sidewalk, a driveway, or a foundation, a crack means it’s time to call in the repair crew. Shepherd Concrete knows that’s a disappointing call to make. When you pay for something to get done, you want to ensure it gets done right. That’s why we have a few guidelines to keep in mind that will help you maintain the longevity of your concrete work.
What Causes Concrete to Crack?
Concrete can crack due to various circumstances. At Shepherd Concrete, we must educate our customers on the process for all of our projects. Concrete work isn’t as easy as pouring it down. When we go about our work, we must keep in mind all of the contributing factors that can cause your concrete to crack.
One of those factors is shrinkage, the most common cause of cracking. As concrete hardens, some water used during the mixing process evaporates. As the water content in the mix lessens, the concrete slab is reduced in size. As it contracts, it causes stress within the already tightly compacted substance, and the added stress results in breakage or cracks.
Expansion is another cause for cracking in concrete. Heat makes substances expand. The same is true for concrete. In hot weather months, concrete will expand, and the bonds that hold everything together will begin to weaken and break.
Heaving is a term that refers to the act of concrete being moved forcefully. This can occur because of sudden changes in temperature or obstacles like tree roots pushing up toward the surface. Either of these issues can cause unwanted cracks in your concrete work.
Settlement Cracks occur when concrete is poured over loose soil or has gaps beneath it, the concrete won’t have a solid foundation to support it. When soil shifts or moves, it creates voids under the slab. Cracks will begin to form as the concrete attempts to settle into these gaps.
Finally, excessive weight is another prime suspect that can cause cracks in your concrete. Believe it or not, concrete has load limits too. We often think that a concrete foundation can hold just about anything, but if. If you exceed the weight limit for the concrete, it will crack or break like anything else.
How Do I Prevent Cracks in my Concrete?
With many possible variables that can lead to cracks in your concrete, it might seem like a lost cause. The truth is that it is not as hopeless as it seems. With a proactive mindset, you can prevent cracks from happening before you even start to pour it.
For shrinkage, reducing the amount of water in your concrete mix and curing your concrete will eliminate the possibility of stress building up inside your compound mixture.
When it comes to the effects of heat and expansion, you can give your concrete some room by adding an expansion joint. These joints are usually made of material that has some elasticity, like tar-impregnated cellulose fiber. This will eliminate stress fractures created by overexpansion.
Avoid tree roots and spots where trees or other large subsoil objects have been recently removed. This will ensure that your concrete doesn’t fall victim to heaving or a faulty foundation. You can also create control joints in larger pieces of concrete work that will force any shifting to occur within these predetermined grooves. When pouring concrete, find a place to build a solid surface that won’t allow the soil to shift or move around.
Last but not least, know the weight limit of your concrete. If you’re unsure if it can withstand heavy equipment, ask the professionals. Shepherd concrete will give you the answers you need.
When you’re ready to start your next concrete project, call the company that will make sure the job is done right. We take into account all of the various circumstances to make sure your concrete work is put in properly and will last long into the future. Call today, and speak to one of our concrete experts.