It's Cracking! 3 Common Reasons Your Concrete Is Cracking

If you've got a concrete driveway or sidewalk, you're probably doing everything you can to keep it looking good. Unfortunately, even with the best preventative maintenance, your concrete is probably going to crack. Rest assured, there's nothing you could have done to stop those cracks from appearing. Here are three reasons why concrete cracks, no matter what you do.

Shrinkage

When your concrete was initially poured, the contractor carefully controlled the amount of water-to-concrete mixture that was used. As the wet concrete dried, the moisture evaporated causing shrinkage. That shrinkage lead to small cracks. In most cases, shrinkage cracks go all the way through the concrete, from top to bottom. So, if you see small cracks in the surface of your concrete, it's probably a crack that goes straight through. Luckily, most shrinkage cracks won't cause permanent damage to your concrete.

Expansion

Your concrete is more likely to crack during the summer. That's because hot weather causes your concrete slab to expand, which leads to expansion cracks. In most cases, concrete contractors will include several expansion joints in the concrete surface. Those expansion joints give your concrete a place to crack without damaging the entire surface. Expansion joints are the indented lines that run across the surface of your concrete structure.

Heaving

If you live in a region that experiences significant freeze/thaw cycles during the winter, or you have trees in your yard, your concrete will be subjected to heaving and subsidence. Heaving occurs when something applies pressure to the area underneath the concrete – such as tree roots growing up through the concrete. Subsidence occurs when the pressure under the concrete subsides. The constant pressure creates stress fractures or cracks in the concrete.

You can help alleviate heaving caused by tree roots by planting your trees farther away from concrete surfaces and by providing your trees with adequate water. When trees do not receive enough water, they extend their tap roots to look for water, which often means that they try to grow up through your concrete sidewalks, patios and driveways.

Concrete cracks. No matter what you do to protect your concrete, you're bound to find minor –or even major – cracks in the surface of your concrete. In most cases, there's no need to panic. Most concrete cracks can be repaired quickly and easily by a contractor. If you have small cracks in your concrete, don't wait until they get larger. Have a concrete contractor take care of the repairs. 

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