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Workers setting a concrete slab

Why Does Concrete Crack, And How Can You Prevent It?

Concrete is one of the most sought-after construction materials. From block walls to pavers to chimneys, concrete has a wide range of applications and benefits. After all, it’s known as one of the sturdiest building materials, and homeowners love it!

But what to do if your concrete structures start to show cracks? Or, if you are thinking about getting a new driveway installed, you may be concerned about the cracks that might soon appear.

Unfortunately, there is nothing as 100 percent crack-free concrete. The good news, however, is that despite enduring weather and weight, concrete can still be maintained for many years. Here is everything you need to know about concrete cracks and how to prevent them.

First, let’s look at some of the reasons why concrete sometimes cracks sooner than it should.

Causes of Concrete Crack

Here are some of the most common causes for your concrete to crack. Luckily, there is a solution to each problem that we’ll discuss further below.

Construction Causes

First of all, let’s talk about the constructional mistakes that may cause concrete to crack too early.

Too Wet Mixture

A mixture of cement and water is required to make concrete slabs. Sometimes inexperienced masonry services make the grave mistake of making a too wet mixture for concrete. Despite being dried on the surface, the concrete will remain moist on the inside and continue to expand. This will result in cracks on the surface soon.

Too Dry Mixture

On the other hand, too dry mixture is also a problem. A concrete slab takes up to weeks to cure. During this time, there should be enough water to transform concrete from liquid to plastic, then solid. If there is not enough water, the concrete mixture will dry too quickly and thus result in poor curing.

Improper Sub-Grading

Sub-grading is the process of leveling the surface underneath the concrete. This is especially important for driveway and paver installation. If the surface below the concrete is uneven or has debris or moisture, the concrete will dip or crack. The concrete will not settle firmly due to improper sub-grading.

A cement mixer

Lack of Control Joints

Control joints allow homeowners and builders to control where the cracks occur in a concrete slab. These control joints are strategically placed at the edges of each slab to allow shrinkage and expansion to take place. Expert masonry services will always guide you regarding control joints.

Other Causes

Other than construction mistakes that you must not be aware of, here are some of the reasons for concrete cracking over time.

Lack of Maintenance

While it’s true that concrete is one of the sturdiest building materials, one has to be attentive to the maintenance regime. If you had a block wall construction a decade ago and never called a maintenance service or repair contractor, you may be living in close proximity to a weak structure.

Age of the Building/ Structure

Like everything, concrete also has a lifespan. Over the years, concrete will endure the effects of weather, rain, cold, and sunlight. In addition to the weight your structure is bearing, all these factors will damage the base. If you have an old stucco wall or paver, it’s about time to replace or upgrade it.

Poor Workmanship

You may get the best quality material and the perfect design plans and invest heavily in the concrete construction at your home. However, your efforts will be in vain if you don’t hire a reputable and experienced construction service. Poor workmanship is a homeowner’s worst nightmare.

Poor Quality Material

Likewise, if you have hired a renowned masonry service for concrete construction but failed to ensure the quality of the raw material, the end result will be disappointing. As much as hiring an experienced masonry service is important, it’s also essential to use high-quality raw materials.

Excessive Load

Different concrete structures have different applications. Your masonry service provider must guide you regarding the right concrete for your project to ensure there’s no excessive load issue. If you are using the wrong concrete application for a high load-bearing structure, cracks will soon start to appear due to excessive load.

Chemical Reactions

If you have a concrete driveway or stucco wall in a cold area, you might be used to using snow-melting chemicals. These chemicals, despite their usefulness, are horrible for concrete. The constant use of harsh chemicals will result in damage to the concrete and ultimately cause cracks.

Temperature Changes

Concrete is highly porous and thus reacts to moisture in many ways. During the cold, concrete structures will absorb the water and expand. When summer comes, and the water evaporates, concrete will shrink. This constant expansion and contraction will cause cracks in the concrete surfaces and structures.

A concrete road with cracks

Types of Cracks

Here are the most common type of cracks in concrete.

  1. Shrinkage – these types of cracks occur due to the shrinking of the concrete blocks. The shrinking can take place due to moisture, temperature change, or improper curing.
  2. Horizontal – an end-to-end crack in the middle of the concrete structure will most likely be caused by the dryness of the mixture.
  3. Vertical – this kind of crack will take place due to excessive load bearing or wet mixture that didn’t firmly hold its place during construction.
  4. Diagonal – this type of crack reflects multiple problems on the inside that cause the upper layer to crack.
  5. Settlement – this is a structural crack that shows improper workmanship. This crack may also be a sign of foundation problems.
  6. Hairline – this is one of the most common types of cracks that may occur due to wear and tear. These cracks often need minor repairing.

How to Assess the Crack Condition?

If you notice one of the cracks mentioned above, here’s how to determine the severity of the situation.

How Wide is It?

There’s no definite guideline on how wide of a crack is acceptable because the answer may vary from a masonry contractor to a homeowner to an inspector. However, as a rule of thumb, a crack that’s wider than a credit card deserves immediate attention.

How Deep is It?

Again, you may not find a definite answer. But if you notice a crack that runs through the concrete slab till the bottom, chances are it’s a bad one. You must call a masonry repair service immediately if you notice a deep crack in any of the concrete structures around your house.

Is it Static or Growing?

Is the crack the same as you saw two days ago, or it’s gradually expanding? If the answer is the latter, then this crack needs immediate attention before it becomes a safety hazard for you and those around you.

How Visible Is It?

Sometimes, a floor crack may not pose any safety concern, but if it’s in the middle of your driveway, it will impact your curb appeal. You may want to fix a small hairline crack depending on its visibility and effect on your home’s curb appeal.

A crane at a construction site

Steps to Prevent Concrete Cracks

Now that we have looked at a wide range of possible causes for concrete cracking, here are some preventive tips.

Start with Reputable Contractors

First and foremost, hiring a reputable concrete construction service in Phoenix is a must. This is your first step to ensuring that your concrete structure will be built with the utmost professionalism and high-quality material.

Cure the Slab Well

Once you have hired a contractor, ensure that the curing process is done properly. This means you and your masonry contractor should ensure there’s enough water in the mixture that dries in sufficient time. Too early drying will cause your concrete slabs to crack.

Ensure Right Mixture Proportion

As mentioned earlier, the right ratio of water to cement is the base of a solid concrete slab. Make sure that your masonry contractor is experienced and knows the right mix. You can check out different DIY guides online to learn the right proportion yourself.

Don’t Forget Reinforcement

To further add to the strength of the concrete, you can opt for steel reinforcement layers. Steel reinforcement will ensure that the structure remains sturdy despite the cracks and wear and tear of concrete. It will also keep the concrete structure intact in its place.

Opt for Preventive Maintenance

As said earlier, a lack of preventive maintenance will cause your concrete to crack and damage earlier than it should. Therefore, opt for preventive maintenance and call a masonry repair contractor at least twice a year to check for cracks and damages to your structures.

Call Expert Concrete Repair Services

And if you are seeing that there are cracks on your concrete surface or structure, get in touch with CF Vice Construction. The Phoenix-based masonry repair services can help you with block wall repairs, concrete construction, and repair, and all kinds of construction services in Tempe, Gillbert, Scottsdale, and Anthem. Contact here to get a quote.

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