If you’ve ever had to replace concrete, you know what a pain it can be. From time to time, steps and sidewalks crack and sink, leaving the homeowner with an unsightly and potentially dangerous home hazard. Years ago, we had no choice but to jackhammer the old concrete and then replace it with a new slab. But today, there are methods of revitalizing concrete that can save you time, money and a whole lot of headache.
Concrete raising is a method of replacement that works by drilling small holes into the existing slab and refilling it with a cementious material of grout-like consistency. The cement grout, or “slurry” as it’s called, gets pressure pumped in, filling air pockets or any gaps that have eroded or been damaged. By raising concrete with concrete, the result is as strong as the day the original concrete was first poured, and the best part is that you don’t have to replace the entire structure.
A popular alternative to concrete raising is called mudjacking, which uses a similar technique but instead pumps a mixture of topsoil, mud, and water into existing holes and gaps. This method raises the concrete, but the mixture is not actually made of concrete which means that it will erode again after time. Think of it like patching your denim jeans with a scrap of cloth – it will do the job for a while, but soon your knee will be poking out again.
The same goes for polyurethane raising. This new trend works by injecting chemical foam into gaps to raise the concrete. The problem with this method is that the foam expands after it gets injected, which makes it difficult to measure in terms of accuracy. Also, because this filler is so new, there isn’t any information on how it evolves over time, and what effect that chemical mix has on the environment as it ages in the ground. It’s also worth noting that the certification process for polyurethane jacking is a two-day course, which doesn’t exactly give you the peace of mind that the job is getting done properly with precision.
In my experience, when it comes to concreting, replacing aging structures with the same original material is the best way to ensure that new and old adhere to one another and will last for decades.
So if you have a sound structure in need of a facelift, consider concrete raising before you demolish. Most residential jobs can be completed in a few hours, and the cost is between one-half and one-third of what you would pay to have the old concrete removed and replaced. A lot of homes in town were built in the 1950’s and with decades of environmental changes and ground shifts, gaps in steps and sidewalks can cause a nasty trip and a fall, especially for older homeowners. If you need a recommendation for concrete raisers in the area, feel free to get in touch.
Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.