Learn how to spot trip hazards in concrete around schools, parks, and playgrounds. Speak up and help get your community’s concrete repaired before the season ends.
How to Fix Concrete in Your Area
It’s the start of the back to school season! Kids are filling their backpacks with school supplies, buses are warming up their engines, and school bells are ringing. Which reminds us…are those playgrounds ready for the new foot traffic? What about the schools, parks, or church? If these areas are not properly inspected and treated for concrete damages, they may have lurking toe-stubbers and trip hazards waiting. Nobody needs another skinned knee.
Now is the time to consider the smart places in need of concrete raising. We often only focus on our homes as the areas that need concrete raising the most. If you sit on a board of directors or are an active member of your community, now is the time to shine and raise your concrete in those vital areas. Voice the need to fix the concrete!
Why do Sidewalks Sink?
Concrete can sink for a number of reasons and is often overlooked throughout the years. Fixing trip hazards on sunken concrete can often get pushed to the bottom of the priorities list for many establishments. You can do your part and bring these issues to light for the person or group responsible.
What causes sunken concrete? If the concrete was originally installed on an improper sub grade that was not compacted correctly, the material may have easily washed away. This creates a gaping hole underneath the concrete, causing it to sink and creating an uneven surface. Soil erosion is another common factor. Perhaps the building does not have proper runoff or drainage. Or the runoff hasn’t been inspected since it was first installed. Improper runoff can wash away the soil beneath your concrete, contributing to the uneven slab settlement.
Animals can also be an issue. Small critters such as chipmunks, woodchucks, and other rodents can burrow or dig their way under concrete slabs, allowing the slabs to sink. If you witness any of these creatures around the area, they may be responsible for the sinking concrete.
How to Identify Signs of Sunken Concrete
Take a few minutes to do a quick, casual inspection of the areas that you or your family commonly frequent. First, identify any obvious trip hazards from sunken concrete. Now look at the surrounding area. Do you notice any gaping holes? What about washed away dirt? Is water flowing toward the concrete? All of these are signs that the concrete could have problems.
The ADA defines a trip hazard as any change in elevation greater than ¼ inch in adjacent surfaces. This includes sunken concrete on sidewalks and pathways.
If you work in a particular area that is being affected by sunken concrete, you may have more insight into the day-to-day logistics that occur on the premise. For instance: Do you have heavy vehicles driving over your concrete throughout the day? The weight of these vehicles can be a contributing factor to poor concrete settlement and cracking. If you have heavy delivery trucks frequently arriving, you may notice some immediate problems.
Additionally, weather can be a contributing factor. If the building in question sits in a low level area prone to standing water, or expects several inches of rain throughout the year, the soil under the concrete can expand. This causes more uneven contact with the concrete and the underlying soil. Take note of the issues that you find:
- Measure how low the slab sinks into the ground.
- How many cracks are each concrete slab section?
This information will be helpful for concrete professionals to assess the situation later on.
You should also be aware of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how sunken and uneven concrete can prevent a building from being safe. The ADA defines a trip hazard as any change in elevation greater than ¼ inch in adjacent surfaces. This includes sunken concrete on sidewalks and pathways. Keep in mind that parks, playgrounds, schools, and churches have a higher pedestrian population than most. They are considered higher risk and need the most attention. Ignorance of the law and ADA compliance is not a defense. It is typically less costly to repair trip hazards than pay for settlements, lawyer fees, and court rulings.
What Does the Concrete Raising Process Look Like?
Now that you have identified the concrete areas that need to be raised, what does the concrete raising process look like?
Concrete raising is quick and cost-effective, typically with minimal disturbance to the surrounding landscape.
Small holes are drilled into the concrete. Conventional mudjacking holes are 1 5/8”, polyurethane are smaller. Different material can be used depending on the situation, such as cementitious material or polyurethane. The material is pumped beneath the concrete slab to fill in gaps and/or spaces. This raises the concrete to the desired level, thus eliminating trip hazards. Once the concrete has reached the proper height, the drilled holes are filled and sealed with concrete. Once completed, existing cracks can be sealed or caulked to help keep water from entering the concrete again.
You can also protect your concrete raising work by investing in professional concrete joint sealing. Joint sealants help prevent water, ice and dirt from entering the concrete joints. The sealants also expand and contract with the concrete, allowing for maximum protection.
The Benefits of Concrete Raising
Concrete raising has several benefits compared to concrete replacement.
Concrete raising is usually more cost-effective than concrete replacement. Additionally, concrete raising is a relatively quick process, and the concrete can be used immediately after the process is finished. This is especially useful for high-volume areas such as parks, playgrounds, schools, and churches. If you were to completely replace the concrete, for example, the process would take much longer, more equipment would be needed, and the cost would be higher. Foot traffic would need to be rerouted as well. Instead, concrete raising offers a quick fix that removes trip-hazards quickly and efficiently.
Take a moment to look around the places you most frequent. This season is an excellent time to repair sunken concrete. Consider reaching out to groups that you are involved in or communicate with. If you serve on a board of directors, now is the time to bring concrete issues to light. Find other ways to get involved in your community and fix your concrete problems. If left unchecked, the problems with likely get worse. They pose a safety risk and may not be ADA compliant.
You can even request a Kent Home Services free estimate. This will help prepare and enable you to bring as much financial information as possible to the responsible parties.
If you have concrete problems, Kent Home Services can help you make the grade.