Every day when you pull up to your house after work, you cringe at your sinking driveway and wonder how bad it will get. You drive into your garage, and get out of the car, and shake your head at the disaster that has become of your concrete driveway. A neighbor walking their dog passes your home, and you know they are glaring at your unsightly driveway. No matter how nice the exterior of your home is kept, no matter how green your grass is or how colorful and vibrant your flower garden, your settling driveway significantly diminished the curb appeal.
Not only is a sinking and cracking driveway an eyesore, but it is a safety hazard as well. It will only be a matter of time until you or another family member trips on one of the sharp edges. Worse still, a neighbor, delivery driver, or mail carrier could fall on your driveway and hurt themselves. Then you could be in for a lawsuit. There are several reasons why your driveway could be sinking and accumulating cracks. Understanding the underlying issues can help you assess the situation and determine what you need to do next.
What is Concrete Settlement?
Many of you might not understand what we are talking about when discussing concrete settlement. The easiest way to better understand this phenomenon is by touring your house inside and out and taking a closer look at your driveway, sidewalk, patio, and other places where you have a concrete surface. If you notice that your sidewalk or patio has sunken lower on one side, it could be due to concrete settling. When concrete settles, it creates an uneven surface, and cracks will start to form. Here are a few causes of concrete settlement.
Moisture and Drainage Issues
You might not think that leaking or otherwise poorly functioning gutters can cause any problems. But when water spreads over your clogged gutters into the ground next to your driveway, it causes an increased amount of moisture and poor drainage. When this happens, the ground can no longer support the weight of your driveway, and settling may occur.
Excess rain and flooding will also saturate the solid under your concrete surfaces and could lead to settling. And while you can always keep your gutters clean and have your gutters fixed so they function correctly, you can’t fix Mother Nature.
Just as soil that is too wet can cause problems with your concrete driveway, damage can also occur in soil and clay that is too dry. Dry soil will shrink as it loses moisture, which will also cause settling and cracks in your concrete driveway.
Trees and Bushes
That shade tree in your front yard looks great and keeps your home shaded in the summer, but its ever-expanding roots could be causing damage to your concrete driveway. If you are planning on planting a tree or two on your property, make sure that it is far enough away from cement structures so it won’t cause damage.
Trees, like any other living thing, need water in order to survive and thrive. And as the shade tree in your front yard mixtures, the more water it needs to survive. As you are aware, a tree’s roots suck in water, and the roots expand to meet water needs. The roots under your concrete driveway might be changing the soil by sucking all the moisture from it. If so, the soil shrinks and becomes unstable, leading to settling.
Dirt settles; there is no way around that. The soil beneath your driveway has settled in many different layers over tens of thousands of years, and each layer exhibits unique characteristics. Without getting into confusing details about the science of soil, changes will occur over time, and this could be the reason why your concrete driveway is settling.
Regardless of the reasons why your concrete driveway is settling, it will only get worse over time. The best thing you can do is take action as soon as possible. Whether you recently noticed hairline cracks or portions of your driveway are starting to chip away, it is essential that you have it inspected by a professional. We will assess the situation and offer a solution. We can also help you understand the cause of the problem and allow you to weigh the cost of repairs or replacement. Feel free to give us a call or schedule an appointment through our contact form.