Concrete slabs fall victim to foundation damage just as readily as any other type of foundation. Determining when your slab has taken on damage, however, can be a tricky endeavor. You’ll want to keep a wary eye out for problem signs that give away the damage so you can respond to it as quickly as possible.
Why Are You Having Problems with Your Concrete Slab?
Several forces work against the overall structural integrity of your concrete slab. Some of the most common forces known to damage your home include:
The term “hydrostatic pressure” refers to the influence water can have on the concrete structures around your home. As groundwater and rainwater gather around the perimeter of your home, it can press up against structures like your concrete slab, not to mention any other concrete structures you have around your property.
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 foundation or other structures, 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 that concrete cracks, it will more readily sink into the damp ground.
It may also be your soil that’s causing your slab to suffer structurally. The soil in Denver and Colorado Springs, CO, tends to be tightly packed together and sprinkled through with minerals. These minerals and clays can work together when it rains or when the temperature rises, expanding at truly rapid rates.
If you don’t make a point of protecting your home from this kind of expansion, you may find yourself contending with the signs of a damaged foundation far faster than you initially anticipated.
While no tree roots will actively work to crack or otherwise damage your concrete slab, they can still cause problems for your home’s overall stability. Trees that are planted too close to the perimeter of your home can disrupt the soil around your concrete slab with their roots. Those roots can cause hollows to appear beneath your home. Gravity can then cause your slab to fall 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. You have the option, at that point, to either remove the trees from your property or otherwise have them relocated. No matter what, you will have to invest in concrete slab repairs if you want to restore your home’s overall structural integrity.
Mistakes During Slab Laying
Sometimes, the parties who originally laid your foundation or other additions may have made mistakes. The pour, for example, may be too thick in some areas and too thin in others. In these cases, you can at least rest assured knowing that the presence of moisture in the air and in your lawn likely hasn’t impacted your concrete structure’s overall integrity.
Signs of Problems in Your Concrete Slab
As mentioned, it can be difficult to know when your slab has suffered from damage. After all, you don’t often have the opportunity to dig down into your foundation and take a better look at it. Luckily, your foundation will often let you know when something’s gone awry down below. You can work with area professionals to conduct regular home inspections and identify the symptoms of damage that might cause you problems later down the line.
Some of the most common signs of problems with your concrete slab include:
Cracks in Your Crawl Space or Basement
Cracks can start to appear in your concrete slab when hydrostatic pressure or expanding soil forces itself against your home. These cracks, while out of sight down below your home, can often appear in your crawl space or basement. Cracks in your crawl space or basement can often allow more moisture into your home, making the problems that you’re contending with in your foundation worse. Not only that, but the cracks in your crawl space, slab, or basement can often allow insects and animals into your home. Not only are these critters poor neighbors, but they can also do further damage to your drywall, insulation, and internal waterproofing measures.
High Levels of Humidity and Your Bills
A little bit of humidity in your home isn’t always a bad thing. However, when that humidity starts to get overwhelming, it can make your home less comfortable and less structurally sound. Excessive amounts of humidity can readily make their way into your home through the cracks that develop as your concrete slab sinks further into the ground.
As the humidity level throughout your home rises, your electric bill will as well. The sooner you’re able to limit the amount of moisture in your home, the sooner you’ll be able to control your bills and limit the amount of hydrostatic pressure that’s negatively impacting the structural integrity of your home.
Mold and Wood Rot
Mold and wood rot, while not the same thing, love nothing more than a dark, damp place to start growing. If you’re contending with a sinking concrete slab, it’s more than likely that moisture’s making its way into your home. This can be the case even if your concrete slab has suffered damage from expanding soil.
Mold and wood rot alike both do significant damage to the structural supports throughout your home. Mold has a detrimental impact on all the porous materials in your home. It can sink its roots into your fabrics as well as to your insulation and drywall. Wood rot, comparatively, tends to target unprotected wooden supports. While the range of that growth will be contained, the rot will tear through your wooden supports, eating them until they’re so structurally unstable that they can no longer support the weight of your home.
Leaking Pipes and Higher Bills
A sinking concrete slab can also damage the structural supports throughout your property, meaning that your utilities may also be in danger. Your HVAC system, for example, may be forced out of place as your supports give out and as your concrete slab sinks. Similarly, the pipes you have running through your crawl space or basement may begin to leak.
Leaking pipes may not seem like an immediate problem, but it can make the humidity in your home much worse. As water saturates the air, moisture can be absorbed into your drywall, insulation, and other essentials. Hydrostatic pressure can start to impact the structural integrity of your home from the inside as well as the outside.
What to Do If You Have a Problem with Your Concrete Slab
If you find yourself contending with some manner of concrete slab damage, do not try to fix it on your own. Instead, reach out to the professional contractors in your area. Professionals in Colorado Springs and Denver, CO, can come out to your home and help you determine not only to what extent your slab has been damaged but what environmental features you may have to watch out for in the future as well.
Professionals also have readier access to the means you need to restore your concrete slab to its original condition. Some of the most common means of repair include foundation piers. Professionals in Colorado Springs and Denver, CO, often recommended that homeowners contending with a damaged slab install some of the following piers beneath your home:
- Push Piers – As some of the most common types of piers used in foundation repair, contractors install push piers in the bedrock around your home. These piers take the weight of your home off your foundation while simultaneously forcing your foundation back into a more appropriate position.
- Helical Piers – Helical piers are best used to keep lighter concrete structures from sinking into the ground. Contractors tend to use these kinds of piers to lift porches and chimneys.
- Slab Piers – If you have a slab foundation that’s started to show signs of wear, you’ll want to invest in slab piers. These piers take root several feet below your foundation and can be used to force your foundation and interior slab back into their proper position.
You also have the option of supporting a sinking concrete slab with foam injections. Professionals can set up spots around your home to inject high-density polyurethane foam beneath your sinking structure. In doing so, they can stabilize the ground around your home, eliminate the hollows that might otherwise be allowing your slab to sink, and lift your slab back into place.
While injecting foam beneath your home may seem far simpler than installing piers, the process can be more difficult if your concrete structures have taken on significant damage or if they’re especially large. To get a better idea both of how long it will take contractors to lift the sinking concrete in question and what degree of work the process might require, you can schedule a home inspection with the professionals in the Colorado Springs and Denver, CO, area.
How Can Contractors Help You Repair Your Home?
At the end of the day, the professionals in your area can help you overcome the challenges that a damaged concrete slab throws your way. All you have to do is reach out. If you suspect that something’s gone awry somewhere in your home—whether because you’ve spotted mold clusters or your electric bill is getting unreasonably high—then get in touch with area experts. You can schedule a home inspection with an expert from Complete Basement Systems and walk away from your first consultation with a free quote detailing what services you might need to restore your home.
Sinking Concrete Slab
Damage that’s out of sight can seem like less of an immediate concern to many homeowners. After all, it’s easy to ignore. Until the damage starts to appear elsewhere in your home, you may be inclined to let concrete slab damage sit, especially if you’re concerned about saving money. Unfortunately, the longer you let damage lie, the more likely it is that your future repairs will be especially costly. Not only that, but a damaged concrete slab can have a negative impact on your home’s value as well as your family’s health and safety.
Threatening Your Home’s Value
A damaged concrete slab has an immediate impact on your home’s overall market value. You are required to list a damaged slab alongside a home listing if you ever go to sell your home without first investing in repairs. Homes with these kinds of listings can lose up to 30 percent of their market value as buyers may want to pursue repairs in the future.
You may also have a more difficult time bringing in buyers if you have a home on the market that has a compromised concrete slab. Buyers want to know that they’re coming into a home that’s been cared for and restored. If they have work ahead of them, they’ll want to make sure their future work is compensated in some form or another. With that in mind, it is often less expensive for you to invest in concrete slab repair than it is to list your home with a damaged slab.
Threatening Your Family’s Health
A damaged concrete slab can also put your family’s health at risk. These slabs, once they suffer from cracks or other forms of damage, can allow more moisture into your home while also destabilizing the structural supports meant to keep your walls, crawl space, or basement in order. The more moisture gets into your home, for starters, the more likely it is that you’ll find yourself contending with mold. Mold of all sorts can cause your family to develop respiratory problems, even if your family doesn’t have a history of these conditions.
Structural weakness throughout your home can also pose a threat to your family on a more physical level. If, for example, the floors in your house start to bounce as a result of excessive moisture and weakened supports, members of your family may trip and hurt themselves. Similarly, a damaged chimney puts the safety of your roof and your family at risk.
If you’re concerned about the cost of concrete slab repair, you may be tempted to try and fix a broken or cracked slab on your own. While that spirit is commendable, it’s rarely a good idea to attempt this level of DIY home repair, especially if you’ve never done anything like it before. Not only can DIY concrete slab repair be especially expensive, but mistakes made during the DIY process can cause a lot of damage to your home in the long term.
Money and Your DIY Work
It’s understandable to find yourself concerned about the cost of repairing a damaged or sinking concrete slab. These means can be expensive, and the threat of that expense can keep several homeowners from investing in the home repairs that they need. Attempting to repair a sinking concrete slab without professional guidance can be even more expensive than working with area professionals, however. Not only will you have to excavate your slab on your own, but you’ll also need to purchase the tools and materials you need to go about the repair process.
Finding and securing these purchases can be difficult enough on its own. Trying to use them without making mistakes can be even more difficult. You can easily make a mistake while using these materials and tools for the first time. If you do, you may have to replace the materials you’ve misused or start the process of repairing your slab all over again. Comparatively, professional contractors have both the professional connections and the experience to work with all the materials you need to either repair or repour a damaged concrete slab. These parties can help you determine whether you want to invest in piers or a foam injection process, all of which will be much more affordable with an expert at your side.
The Threat of Damage to Your Home
Even if you manage to get ahead of the materials and tools you need to lift your sinking concrete slab, the kind of calculations you’ll need to make to avoid damaging your concrete structures further are best left to experts in the field. While mistakes can be expensive, they can also be detrimental to the overall structural integrity of your home. For example, you can raise your falling concrete structures up too high, destabilizing them further. If you do, or if the structure in question ends up damaged in some other way, you’ll have to spend even more money reaching out to area professionals for replacements instead of just repairs.
If you’re considering both your time and your money, it is in your best interest to reach out to professionals for at least a home inspection and free services quote. When you have a quote to look over, you can determine the difference in cost between DIY work and time spent with professionals.
Shrugging off someone’s concerns about your concrete slab is unfortunately easy. After all, if you can’t see the damage that you’re dealing with, why should you worry about it? When you replace your slab, you do more than make sure it’s all in one piece. You also bring up your home’s market value and prevent the damage in question from spreading to other structures around your property.
Restoring Your Home’s Value
As mentioned, your home starts to lose value once your concrete slab starts to sink. If you go to sell a home with a damaged concrete slab, you risk losing up to 30 percent of your home’s overall value, no matter what kind of additions you’ve added to your property. When you replace your sinking concrete slab or otherwise support it, you can restore some of the value you’ve already lost.
That said, there are some benefits to investing in additional home waterproofing measures either while your home’s concrete slab is still damaged or shortly after you repair your slab. These waterproofing measures can help you prevent similar damage from reappearing in the future and increase the overall value of your property. In short, when you install home waterproofing measures meant to protect your concrete slab, you can’t lose.
Protecting Your Other Concrete Additions
The damage done to the concrete structures around your home is most often caused by unanticipated water damage. Unfortunately, that kind of damage tends to cycle back on itself. If one structure around your property has started to take on damage, there’s a chance that the rest of your concrete structures may also be at risk for immediate damage too.
All of the concrete installations around your home can fall victim to this kind of damage. There are certain side effects, however, that can plague additions like your front patio or pool deck. Cracks, for example, may make the pool itself less safe to swim in. Likewise, any mold clusters that start to appear around your pool thanks to the presence of water in your concrete can make the pool deck an active hazard to your family’s health. These same problems can appear elsewhere in your home, putting your family’s safety at risk while also devaluing your home.