Dealing with structural or foundation issues is never fun but you can spot them early on if you keep a vigilant eye out. When you catch settling concrete early on, you can mitigate a lot of the time and money it would cost by letting the symptoms go unnoticed.
Signs of Settling Concrete
A solid concrete structure should never show any of the following signs. If you spot one or more of these, it's time to call the professionals.
- Cracked or uneven concrete slabs;
- Voids underneath soil;
- These can be most readily spotted where concrete buts up to soil or heard (sounds like loud hollow “boom” rather than tinny metallic if you tap on the slab with a piece of metal rebar.
- Sloping, sagging, or buckling concrete slab floors.
Why Does Concrete Settle?
It's kind of a no-brainer--concrete is heavy! It's heavier than the soil it sits upon so, when the soils underneath a concrete slab are unable to support its weight, the slab will sink. The Georgia red clay on which our homes sit is highly susceptible to expansion and contraction, which means it will expand with rain and contract with drought. Over time, this continuous expansion can weaken the soil, causing it to erode, leaving voids. The void-filled soil can no longer support the heavy concrete above, and your concrete will start to crack and sink, or settle, into the voids, which results in uneven and unstable concrete.
Georgia is famous for having wildly varying climates. When the weather changes quickly, the soils supporting your concrete driveway, garage, sidewalk, front stoops and steps, patio or pool deck, and basement floor can all be affected. As mentioned above, rain or improperly-channeled roof water can funnel underneath concrete slabs, oversaturate the soil below, and lead to soil washout, which leaves gaps or voids into which the concrete settles.