WHY DID MY CONCRETE CRACK?
Cracks in concrete are not indicative of inferior materials or workmanship. Cracking in concrete is the result of shrinkage that occurs as concrete hardens and cures. Cracks can be minimized and controlled, but not eliminated. Control joints are placed in concrete floors and exterior flatwork to encourage shrinkage cracks at controlled intervals, but this standard industry practice does not guarantee that cracks will not appear outside control joints.
Cracks in poured concrete foundations are not uncommon and are usually 1/8 inch or less in width and can run the full vertical length of a wall. These types of foundation cracks are not considered problems, until they leak. Lambert Concrete warranties all foundations for the first year and will perform urethane injection of any shrinkage cracks showing leakage.
Foundation Crack Injection Process
Foundation cracks are sealed utilizing an injection process that seals the crack from the inside- out and eliminates water penetration. The pressure injection process pushes a urethane or epoxy resin through the wall, completely filling the crack as the cavity is injected from the bottom up.
Protect Your Concrete
The following is a list of steps that can and should be taken to protect driveways, sidewalks, and other exterior concrete flatwork less than one year old during cold weather months:
1. CLEAN AND SEAL YOUR CONCRETE.
If you want your concrete to stay fresh and new, you need to clean and maintain it! Sealing your newer concrete every few years will help extend the life of your slabs. It's always a good idea to check that the sealer is still working every year to ensure it is still doing its job! There are different kinds of sealers that range from topical sealers to prevent stains and general surface damage to decorative sealers to give you a shiny glossy look.
2. AVOID USING DE-ICING PRODUCTS IN THE FIRST COLD WEATHER SEASON.
Using de-icing products increases the frequency of freeze/thaw cycles and exacerbates the weakening effects of freezing moisture on concrete surfaces. Deicers containing only calcium chloride are recommended after the first winter season.
3. NEVER USE ANY DE-ICING PRODUCT CONTAINING AMMONIUM NITRATE, AMMONIUM SULFATE, OR MAGNESIUM CHLORIDE.
These de-icing agents chemically attack concrete and cause damage above and beyond the effects of freeze/thaw cycles. Some chemicals found in deicing products can also eat through any sealer that has been applied.
4. DO NOT PARK VEHICLES ON DRIVEWAYS.
Snow and water contaminated with road salt and deicers will drip from vehicles leaving concentrated areas of salt or deicer brine that will facilitate multiple freeze/thaw cycles at the surface of the concrete. Even though you may not be applying any deicing methods directly, your vehicles will pick up salt and chemicals from the municipal streets while driving around.
For ANY exterior concrete flatwork installed within the past year, proper maintenance and care of driveways, sidewalks, porches, patios, and even garage floors during the first cold weather season is critical to minimizing damage to concrete flatwork surfaces. Freeze/thaw cycles during cold months are the most common cause of damage to the surface of concrete flatwork. Concrete is a porous material that will absorb moisture at the surface. When the absorbed moisture in concrete freezes, it exerts tremendous expansive force, which weakens the concrete and sometimes leads to the surface of the concrete scaling off.
Concrete less than one year old (and especially concrete poured after November 1st) is particularly vulnerable to freeze/thaw cycle damage in the first cold weather season. Lambert Concrete uses a concrete mix with a special integral sealer to help protect concrete during the first winter. In addition, a topical cure-and-seal product is also applied to the concrete the day of the pour. However, construction traffic, power-washing of new concrete surfaces, and environmental factors (sun, wind, rain, snow) can deplete these protections.
De-icing products can be composed of a variety of different chemicals that are harmful to concrete. These include ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, and magnesium chloride. State, county, and municipality street departments have been known to use magnesium chloride-based deicing materials in the past, a fact that exacerbates the probability of damage to concrete as a result of snow and water drippings from vehicles. However, the most damaging effect of using de-icers is not the chemical interaction with concrete.
The greatest harm caused by de-icers is that they increase the number of freeze/thaw cycles experienced by concrete flatwork during cold months, and thereby amplify the weakening effects produced by freezing moisture at the surface of the concrete. As a general rule, de-icing products should not be applied to exterior concrete flatwork less than one year old.