What Factors Cause Cracks in Concrete Sidewalks?

June 15, 2021
What Factors Cause Cracks in Concrete Sidewalks?

Cracks in your concrete sidewalk can not only be unsightly but they can also be dangerous. You certainly don’t want anyone to trip or fall on your sidewalk at your home or business.

The truth is, some cracks are inevitable. Concrete cracks after a certain period of time or faced with other factors. Not all cracks are because there is something wrong.

What Factors Cause Cracks in Concrete Sidewalks?

There can be any number of factors that cause your concrete sidewalk to crack, from poor workmanship, poor quality of mix, or just Mother Nature.

Drying Too Quickly

If the top layer of your concrete dries much faster than the bottom, it can cause a multitude of fine cracks. If you have a texture or stamping in your concrete, it can become crusty.

These cracks happen if it is a hot sunny day or windy. The top loses moisture too quickly, then the surface will get small cracks or crusting. They don’t look great but they won’t have any effect on the structure.

Cracks from Settling

It can be hard to know exactly what is underneath the area where you pour your sidewalk. It can take some time for a sidewalk or the ground it is on to settle.

This can be caused if a tree is removed, someone is digging nearby to put in pipes or new construction. The earth gets moved but doesn’t get packed down again, causing pockets and then the earth drops.

Cracks from Expanding Concrete

Concrete is porous and that means moisture gets inside of it. When it gets heated up, it will expand. The cracks form because the concrete has nowhere else to go.

Likewise, if the ground and the concrete itself freezes, then thaws, the concrete sidewalk will crack. Sometimes the ground below causes the concrete to lift when it freezes, as there is more water in the ground and when it freezes, it gets solid and larger.

Poor Construction

You can assume that all concrete will crack eventually, but if it isn’t put in right in the first place, then it can happen much faster and the cracks can be much worse.

A poor mix of the cement, too much or not enough water, or not curing the slab properly can crack before they normally would. It’s important to find a concrete contractor that is reliable and reputable.

Other Factors

There may be other problems that can cause your sidewalks to crack. Tree roots that are punching it up, new open pockets where the soil has shifted or disappeared, lack of proper support, and damage brought on by earthquakes, large heavy vehicles passing over them, or crazy weather.

You can opt to have the cracked areas refilled, remove the slab and replace it. If you have a problem with the soil settling underneath or the roots of trees, you need to fix what is causing the cracks first, or you won’t have fixed the cracks.

Cracks in Concrete Sidewalks

If you are having problems with your old sidewalk or wondering if you need to repair or replace it, give us a call at Johnson Concrete. A simple patch job isn’t going to help structural problems.

Many think sidewalks and steps are the easy and small part of a concrete project but many times they can be the most difficult and need the most planning. Sidewalks can be in tight areas, and the old concrete can be hard to remove. The new sidewalk needs to have the proper slope so it’s accessible for anyone.