Concrete that is not sealed before winter, the elements of winter easily damaged the surface. Precipitation, freeze-thaw cycles, salt, shoveling, snowplows, or snow blowers can all wreak havoc on concrete surfaces. Concrete work is not always straightforward, and we recommend consulting with your local concrete contractors for all your major repairs.
The Science Behind Concrete
Making concrete seems like a simple task, but the chemical reaction in concrete is more like a science project. Concrete forms by mixing water with cement power and a chemical reaction called hydration. This reaction causes the crystallization of the cement particles. When the temperature the concrete is mixed in is hot, the particles form very quickly. The crystals form below 40 degrees Fahrenheit very slowly, and below 15 degrees, the crystals won't form.
The temperature factor involved in concrete work makes it difficult to perform in extreme temperatures. Once spring arrives and temperatures consistently remain above 50 degrees makes spring the ideal time for concrete repair.
Concrete Requires a Protective Seal
Due to the chemical reaction concrete goes through, concrete remains sensitive to moisture and temperature changes. Protective seals should be applied to all new concrete surfaces and again every two to three years. Fully protected concrete requires protective sealant across the entire body, including calking and sealing the expansion joints.
During winter, we often shovel, snow blow, or snowplow our driveways and walkways. Metal blades on snowblowers and plows easily scrape concrete surfaces exposing concrete and breaking the seal. Moisture can then enter the concrete or the expansion joints leading to a water collection around or under the slabs. As temperatures rise and fall, the moisture goes through the freeze-thaw cycle. When moisture freezes, it expands, and when it thaws in contracts leading to the concrete shifting and moving. This movement can result in cracks in the slab.
Often in winter, we put salt down to thaw ice or prevent ice from forming. Salt attracts moisture and can draw more water into open concrete surfaces. Sand is the best solution for adding traction to concrete surfaces and can easily be cleaned up in the spring.
Types of Concrete Repairs
The most common form of damage is heaving concrete. The entire slab may upheave or cracks form, breaking the slab into pieces. These cracks can displace concrete, creating an unsightly appearance and tripping hazards.
Other common repairs occur from expansion cracks, shrinkage cracks, settling cracks, or overloading cracks. Expansion cracks occur concrete expanding but do not have enough space for expansion. Shrinkage cracks occur when too much water is in the mixture, and the drying process results in cracks that go all way through the slab. Overloading cracks are caused by too much weight placed on a slab.
Anytime a seal is broken or a crack forms, it is essential to repair it as soon as possible. If the concrete has heaved or settled unevenly, concrete contractors will carefully level each slab. When the damage is too severe, it may require complete removal and re-installation.
Once the slabs are level, your concrete professionals seal each crack. If the gaps or joints are significant, a backer rod is put in place before applying the caulk. The backer rod fills the space between the slabs, reducing the caulk required to make a seal. Small, fine cracks will only need caulk. No matter the gap's size, it is essential to seal each crack's ends to prevent moisture from getting under the seal.
Concrete Repair Professionals
Although repairing your concrete may seem like an easy task, concrete work that is not performed correctly can cause more damage and be more costly. For professional concrete repair, contact us at Peoria Asphalt, Concrete & Brick Paver for your free estimate! 309-324-3800