Having Concrete Problems in Boulder?
Colorado is no stranger to concrete problems. A quick stroll down any sidewalk is enough to inform you of the usual state of concrete in our state. You can’t take a step without encountering a crack, dip, peak or wibble-wobble. Between weather extremes and the natural movement of the earth’s crust this close to mountain ranges, most concrete never stands a chance. There is a difference, however, between concrete on city sidewalks and the concrete in your garage, auto shop, or basement— or at least, there should be! If the looming threat of concrete cracks is giving you a headache, then you need to hear about the concrete sealing options that Garage Force of Mountain View can provide to home and business owners! Let us break down the reasons that concrete can potentially crack, and then we’ll provide you with the solution that will help you to avoid all of these problems and keep your concrete looking like a highly-functional work of art.
Why Concrete Cracks
Here follows six of the most common reasons that concrete can make like a banana and split. If you feel that any of these factors put your concrete at risk, we encourage you to contact us immediately so that we can implement our concrete sealing as soon as possible!
Through the wonder of science and physics, concrete has the tendency to shrink after it has been poured. When it’s in the process of drying, it’s still full of moisture and water. As this water slowly evaporates from the concrete, it can leave behind pockets or fault lines of empty space, which are weak points in concrete that can easily crack. These types of cracks are known as plastic shrinkage cracking. While these cracks can technically occur anywhere in your concrete, you’ll most often find them in corners or around objects that interrupt the concrete, like pipes or drains. Concrete has a hard time shrinking around objects, and that resistance is often what leads to a plastic shrinkage crack. Of course, all of this can be avoided if the proper amount of water is used in the concrete mixture in the first place— a mixture that is overly-saturated with moisture tends to shrink more than it needs to, and before you know it, you have a spider web of fine cracks throughout your concrete flooring.
Conversely, concrete expansion is another reason that your concrete could crack up on you. Once again, you can blame physics for this one. Most materials will expand when exposed to heat, even the relatively tame summer sun. As concrete expands, it will crack if it encounters an opposing force that stops it’s desire to bloat. When that opposing object is equally or more resistant to giving the right-of-way, the concrete will crack under the pressure.
The Hills Are Alive
Because it is so subtle, you never really think about the ground actually moving due to weather conditions, but it’s true. Some concrete will fall victim to something called “heaving concrete cracks,” and it’s very common in Colorado because of our cold winters. When the ground freezes, it’s possible that it can lift as much as several inches before calming back down when there is a thaw. If your concrete slab is not constructed in a way to accommodate this sort of ground-swelling movement, it is no match for the natural movements of the Earth. Similarly, trees can create this same ground-swelling effect if they grow too close to concrete, slowly inching their way under concrete year by year like little fingers, eventually warping and cracking the concrete above.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Rather than worrying about the ground heaving or tree roots growing under concrete, the removal or settling of earth below concrete can be just as damaging. Say there was a tree near concrete that died and was removed. Any of those tree roots that may have been under the concrete will decompose, leaving a void of space that earth will settle into, and creating a weak spot in your concrete. Before you know it, Crack City, Population: You. Every effort should be made to compact earth when there is a potential for a void to be created.
Too Much To Bear
Concrete is very, very hard, but it is not invulnerable. Just like a wooden table or bench, it does have a tensile strength that can be exceeded and succumb to being overburdened. Now, a couch or even most vehicles are not going to be a problem for most concrete, but placing large things like RVs or commercial dumpsters can put strain on concrete and cause cracks. Another contributing factor that is common in Colorado — snow. Moisture from snowmelt can soften the ground beneath concrete, making it more susceptible to cracking when excess weight is placed on it. Use special care, especially around the edges of concrete, when you’re navigating heavy objects over concrete, because weight-stress cracks are most common at the edges of concrete, like when a chip breaks in salsa— right at the edge. We call that a party foul.
When concrete dries too fast, in addition to plastic shrinkage cracks, you can have general hairline cracks appear in multiple locations. Most of the time, these cracks are just an eyesore, and don’t really cause that much damage to the structural integrity of your concrete— they’re simply annoying to deal with. If it’s a particularly dry or windy day when you’re having your concrete poured, those weather conditions can cause the top of the concrete to dry much faster than the bottom, and these spider web-looking cracks can show up uninvited.
Prevent Concrete Distress With Garage Force
You may be thinking “this is where they sell me on epoxy flooring, right?” Wrong! We’ve taken epoxy to the next level but using something even better than epoxy for protecting your concrete floors. We use polyurea coatings that are unlike any other concrete coating you’ve ever seen. These coatings are up to 20 times stronger than epoxy, resist UV light, repel moisture, cure quickly, and are available in a ton of style options. Learn more about our polyurea concrete coatings here, and contact us today for a free quote to keep your concrete looking fantastic for years to come!