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Soil Shrinkage & Compaction

When soil shifts, your foundation becomes damaged. Colorado’s dry climate can contribute to shrinking soil and heavy concrete contributes to soil compaction.

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Much like how your house is supported by your foundation, concrete structures are supported by the soil underneath it. If anything damages the soil under your home, concrete damage will inevitably follow. Soil shrinkage occurs when soil gets too dry, and soil compaction occurs when heavy weight crushes down on the soil.

What Causes Soil Shrinkage and Compaction?

Soil Shrinkage

As stated before, soil shrinkage occurs when soil gets too dry. The most common cause of soil shrinkage is dry air or drought. Colorado has a dry environment, so this issue affects many homeowners in the state. Plus, much of Colorado has heavy clay soil which is particularly prone to shrinkage. Plant roots absorbing moisture from the soil can also cause the same issue. With any lack of moisture, soil becomes brittle and loses volume. This process is similar to what happens when a sponge becomes completely dry – it becomes smaller and shrivels up. Dry soil functions in much the same way.

Soil Compaction

Soil compaction refers to how tightly packed together the soil is. Generally, the more tightly packed together dirt is, the better. However, sometimes soil compaction can backfire when concrete exerts too much weight onto the soil. Concrete driveways tend to have a lot of extra weight on top of them including cars, people walking or standing on them, and external structures like statues or outdoor furniture. Over time, all of this extra weight can cause your concrete to compact the soil to the point of collapsing in on itself. As a result, your concrete cracks, and sinks into the ground.

The Risks of Soil Shrinkage & Compaction

There are a few signs that indicate soil shrinkage or compaction has occurred. All of these can put your concrete, and home, at risk of major structural damage.

Uneven Concrete

When concrete sinks into weakened soil, it will crack and sink unevenly. We’ve all seen driveways or sidewalks with sections of concrete that jut up from the ground or look like a mini crater as they sink into the ground. If concrete looks like this on your driveway, it can turn into a hazard for both vehicles and people. Tires could pop as they tread over sharp edges and loved ones could trip over any uneven areas.

Concrete Cracks

On the same note, concrete may crack before it becomes uneven. If you’re noticing a lot of cracks forming across your concrete, it’s probably due to a soil issue like shrinking or compaction. Obviously, any huge cracks are a sure sign of a problem, but you might not think much of small cracks. 

Even these can lead to a bigger problem. Be aware of any excessive cracking on your driveway or sidewalks in front of your home. It is best to stay on top of cracks and be overly cautious to avoid major concrete problems in the future that could harm your property or your loved ones.

Pests and Bugs

Believe it or not, concrete that cracks and sinks become the perfect hiding spot for pests and bugs, especially flying insects like wasps or hornets. Concrete offers protection from rain, heat, and other weather patterns, so it becomes the perfect place for animals to take shelter. Since cracked concrete often creates a tight space, you might find snakes, small rodents, or hornet nests residing underneath your concrete. Not only does this cause a nuisance, but it also runs the risk of an unpleasant encounter that could lead to stings or bites.

FAQs

Ambitious homeowners might be tempted to try and fix concrete issues on their own. Unfortunately, there is no solid DIY method that truly fixes concrete sinking issues. The most effective way to fix sunken concrete is with the help of a professional. At Peak Structural, we use PolyRenewal™, a polyurethane injection system that uses a dense polymer solution to support your concrete and prevent soil problems from arising in the future.

The SettleStop PolyRenewal™ system utilizes a very innovative foam that is incredibly effective for concrete lifting and stabilization. The foam, made from polyurethane, is lightweight and unaffected by dry air or compaction – weather patterns won’t affect it like regular soil. Plus, the material is environmentally friendly! The material protects chemicals from leaking through and into your home, such as weed killer or fertilizers.

Typically, the average homeowner will be able to tell when their concrete is uneven. You will see parts of the concrete that are sinking into the soil more than others. This isn’t the only damage your concrete will face, either. This concrete damage can also affect your foundation and impact the rest of your home. You might find your floor starting to sag or your doors and windows getting stuck.

Contact Us for a Free Inspection

Concrete problems are no fun for anyone. They can lower your home’s curb appeal, become tripping hazards, and lead to future foundation damage. Our experts are happy to inspect your home and identify the root cause of your concrete issues at no cost to you. 

We’ve served homeowners in Colorado for nearly 20 years, and we’re ready to serve you as well. Peak Structural proudly serves Denver, Colorado Springs, and the Pikes Peak region. Contact us to receive a free estimate on our concrete lifting services and speak to one of our team members today!

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Palmer Lake, CO 80133

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