Primary Causes of Concrete Sidewalk Damage and Ways to Fix Them

Concrete Sidewalk Damage and Ways to Fix Them

Concrete sidewalks are a common feature in the streets of New York City as they constitute an arterial part of commutation. Intended to provide the safe movement of pedestrians, sidewalks play a crucial role in preventing road accidents and mishaps. Unfortunately, concrete lasts only up to 25 to 30 years. It is susceptible to damage sooner or later. Several factors are responsible for the impairment of the concrete sidewalks.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) ensures that all the sidewalks are properly maintained by the adjacent property owners. Failure to do so or if any sidewalk poses a considerable threat to pedestrians, including accidents and trip hazards, DOT issues a violation notice. Therefore, if you have a defective sidewalk, you are inviting trouble. During a DOT inspection, your sidewalk will fail to retain the set standards and then comes the violation!

However, sidewalk repair concrete can save you from severe consequences, provided you take timely action. So, today, let us focus on the fundamental causes of sidewalk damage and their effective fixes. We hope it will be helpful information as you learn to recognize the damage signs.

Concrete Sidewalk Damage: Understanding the Causes

Though concrete damage is inevitable, it can be delayed with proper maintenance and care. For this, you are required to understand the various factors responsible for damage. Some of them occur during construction, while others appear over time.

  • Cracking- The horizontal or vertical cracks in concrete sidewalks are a predominant concern. Whether hairline or long and deep, cracks appear due to multiple reasons. These include thermal contraction, subgrade settlement, drying shrinkage, lack of preparation, and moisture. Thus, they occur due to external elements and internal structural problems. Only an expert can evaluate the appropriate source of your concrete cracks.
  • Blisters- Blistering is primarily a cause of construction failure. It occurs when air bubbles get trapped during the curing of concrete surfaces. It can occur due to insufficient vibration during compaction or finishing when the concrete is still moist. 
  • Discoloration- You may notice light or dark patches in your concrete sidewalk occurring mainly due to extreme heat and UV rays exposure, chemical reactions, and organic staining. Nonetheless, concrete sidewalk repair Queens can efficiently fix discoloration issues.
  • Curling- The corners and edges may rise due to temperature differences between the bottom and top of the concrete slab. It is known as curling. You can prevent curling by installing proper control joints, using steel reinforcements and low-shrinkage concrete mix, and ensuring uniform temperature and moisture. Since it is a construction defect, you have nothing much to do other than hire a licensed and reputed contractor.
  • Scaling- An uneven surface due to mortar deterioration is known as scaling. Constant freeze-thaw cycles and excessive moisture exposure are responsible for scaling. 
  • Spalling- Spalling is deeper depressions than scaling caused by bond failure, physical impact, weathering and erosion, and stress.
  • Efflorescence- It is a common phenomenon where salt deposits on the surface in the form of powdery dust. As moisture escapes, the soluble salts accumulate on the surface, leaving behind white patches.
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Thus, there are multiple reasons for concrete sidewalk failure. The structural or constructional defects are irreparable. So, concrete sidewalk replacement is often a long-term solution in scenarios like blisters, curling, and large-scale cracking. 

Fixing Concrete Sidewalk Defects

Before addressing any concrete sidewalk damage, a meticulous evaluation of the problem is necessary to detect its source. Without recognizing the cause, it is impossible to furnish the ideal fix. Here are the solutions for concrete sidewalk damage:

  • Efflorescence can be easily fixed by cleaning the surface thoroughly with liquid detergent and a pressure washer. You must not do it too often since too much use of a power washer can cause surface damage.
  • To fix discolored concrete surfaces, you can put a fresh layer of concrete finish. It will restore the lustre and sheen while making your sidewalk look aesthetically pleasing.
  • Use an appropriate proportion of concrete mix to avoid blistering and structural cracks. Also, be mindful of the moisture content in the mortar and the temperature of the project site.
  • Let your concrete cure completely before finishing, or else you may end up having premature spalling and scaling.
  • For concrete sidewalk crack repair, often a patchwork is effective if the crack is superficial. But for wide, long cracks, sealing is necessary before performing a patchwork. You may require replacing a portion of your sidewalk if the crack affects the structural integrity.
  • Use low-shrinkage concrete mix and reinforcement steel to avoid curling because this defect is irrevocable. If curling occurs, you have to replace the sidewalk.
  • Ensure adequate drainage to prevent excessive moisture retention.
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To conclude, restraining structural flaws can considerably curb damage severity. And if there is already damage, fixing it right away is your best chance at preventing expensive repairs.