You’ve got some *issues* with flat concrete surfaces around your home. They’re uneven, ugly, and causing problems. You’ve run across the idea of something called concrete lifting or concrete leveling and you’re wondering if this might work for you. But what kinds of problems are best solved with concrete raising? Will this work for YOUR particular problem?
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we’ve been raising and leveling concrete for almost as long as we’ve been raising and leveling foundations. With 35+ years in the community, we’ve solved *many a concrete calamity* for Brazos Valley homeowners and businesses. We can help you navigate your concrete surface problems with confidence.
This article will reveal the top problems that concrete lifting is best for and also what issues it cannot solve. We will also briefly overview the many methods and names this repair technique goes by and how it works so that you are more informed moving forward in your research.
What Is Concrete Lifting or Leveling?
Concrete lifting is a very general term. On the other hand, concrete leveling is a confusing term too because the concrete needing fixing doesn’t always need to be perfectly level. This type of repair goes by a lot of different names and can be addressed by several different methods as well.
To return sunken or uneven concrete surfaces back to where they were originally placed can be called:
- Concrete lifting
- Concrete leveling
- Concrete raising
- Concrete slab jacking
- Concrete repair
- Flatwork, Driveway, or Sidewalk repair
All these terms are generic and basically refer to the act of restoring concrete surfaces to their original and proper elevation (which may or may not have been “level” in the first place).
Many concrete surfaces around your home are angled somewhat to facilitate water runoff. So even though sometimes this type of repair is called concrete *leveling*, the goal is not to be perfectly level but to go back to how it was when first constructed.
These kinds of repairs are typically done on exterior concrete flat-work around your home or business like driveways, sidewalks, patios, or perhaps even lightweight garden shed foundations.
But we’re not talking about home foundations here, just smaller slabs of concrete that are not bearing the full weight of a home or have any type of structural beams on the underside.
Top 6 Problems Concrete Lifting Will Fix
Now on to the main event (sorry we had to get those basics out of the way first). The most important thing about any concrete surface you are wanting to lift, level, or raise is that it needs to be in pretty good shape to begin with. In other words, it’s still good, just not laying right anymore.
If that is the case with the concrete surface in question, then here are the best problems to fix with concrete lifting:
- Walkway Tripping Hazards
- Pooling Water
- Garage – Driveway Misalignments
- Driveway – Roadway Misalignments
- Sidewalk – Curb Misalignments
- Sloping Patios
Wow, I’m actually impressed that I came up with 6 items on this list, I was only thinking of 3 initially. The three types of misalignments are similar, but they each cause a unique sort of problem for you or your home. Plus, we’ve got pictures of each to show you so it’s worth listing them separately.
1. Walkway Tripping Hazards
Tripping hazards are the most common issue fixed by concrete lifting or leveling. The tripping hazard can be created by two misaligned panels or one panel that has cracked.
Homeowners and businesses are highly motivated to address tripping hazards due to safety and liability issues. People can sue you if they trip on your property due to walkway issues that you haven’t addressed.
2. Pooling Water
Water that collects on a driveway or parking lot is annoying, especially if the puddle of standing water hangs out near where you get in and out of your car. Pooling water that doesn’t drain off of the concrete surface also ends up being a literal cesspool of yuck and a breeding ground for insects.
The standing water and muck eventually stains your concrete, causes it to degrade faster, and generally makes things not look very nice. Strangely, people don’t often think about the fact that this problem can be easily fixed with concrete lifting.
3. Garage – Driveway Misalignments
This is where the concrete panel just before entry into your garage has sunk. This is also a tripping hazard but it’s a tripping hazard that often affects your car more than your body.
It causes a big bump that you have to navigate your car over just to get into your garage. It’s hard on your car and tires. If the misalignment is several inches off, it can even create safety hazards by having to really press the gas to overcome the elevation change to park your car in the garage.
Let’s just imagine a teenager who doesn’t know how to handle the gas pedal well yet. They gun it over the hump and then have trouble stopping once they get into the garage . . . are you picturing how this could play out . . .
4. Driveway – Roadway Misalignments
This issue is similar to the one above but affects you more when you’re trying to leave your house instead of when you’re coming home. It’s where the last panel of your driveway has sunk lower than the roadway, causing a difficult elevation and bump to overcome as you leave your driveway.
Again, it’s hard on your car and your tires. It’s also a tripping hazard for you or others who might be walking to the mailbox or strolling in the neighborhood. Since it’s the concrete panel on your property that has sunk and not the street, you have to be the one to fix it.
Pictured is a really good example of this issue. We fixed this for a homeowner who had fallen in the street due to this driveway-roadway misalignment.
5. Sidewalk – Curb Misalignments
Sidewalk-curb misalignments are a unique sort of tripping hazard that fools the eyes of passers-by. In their mind, they observe the misalignment and see that it exists. However, it doesn’t register with their body and legs and they don’t pick up their feet enough to clear the slightly higher-than-expected elevation difference. So you trip over it anyway . . .
Yes, this is still a sort of tripping hazard. But in my opinion, it’s a little different than the kind of trip caused by a tripping hazard that you don’t see at all vs. one that you do see that your body doesn’t react properly to overcome.
6. Sloping Patios
Patios are large panels of concrete that aren’t attached to your home. A patio is added later and separately after the home foundation was poured. Patios will usually slope very subtly away from the home to keep water from pooling near your doors or foundation and allow for water to easily drain off. You might not even really notice the slope at all.
Sometimes patios start to slope too much and it becomes a problem. The slope is visible and apparent and people can clearly see your furniture leaning which is just not cool. This is an example of a settled patio that could benefit from some type of concrete lifting.
Bonus: Other Misalignments and Issues
I know I only put 6 specific items on the original list, so now I’m violating all sorts of writing rules for you here. There are a few other kinds of misalignments or issues that could fall into one or more of the other categories. Things like:
- Two driveway panels that are misaligned, sloping wrong, or catching water,
- One or more sidewalk panels that aren’t laying the way they were originally placed, not necessarily creating a tripping hazard but doesn’t look good and is hard to walk on.
- Cracked driveway/sidewalk panel, cracked portion sinking but otherwise good.
- Concrete pool decking panels that have sunken, and more.
There’s even the issue of one or more concrete panels on a roadway that have misaligned. You can’t do anything personally about roadway issues other than to report the issue to the municipality in charge. There are a just lot of problems with concrete that can be solved with concrete lifting it’s hard to name them all!
Issues that Concrete Leveling Will Not Fix
As great as concrete raising is, it can’t solve ALL your walkway, driveway, and roadway problems. Here are some scenarios where concrete lifting is not going to work for you:
- Heaved concrete due to trees, roots, and out-of-control landscaping,
- Heaved concrete due to poor drainage,
- Thin and/or poorly constructed concrete with insufficient rebar,
- Concrete that was not sloped or installed correctly in the first place,
- Crumbling and heavily cracked concrete that is no longer in good condition, and
- Blacktop roadways (i.e. not concrete).
The bottom line is that the surface has to be made of concrete that is in good shape. The concrete also has to be sunken from its original position, not heaved up. The concrete in question cannot be moved beyond its original position either. So if it wasn’t right originally, concrete lifting will not make it right.
The root cause of the misalignments matters here and sometimes it actually IS roots! Any issue caused by forces pushing UP on the concrete panel, whether it’s tree roots or constantly wet expansive clay soil, cannot be fixed by concrete raising.
With the kind of repairs we are talking about in this article, we can only lift and raise things that have fallen down, not push things back down.
How Is Concrete Raising Done? How Does It Work?
This type of concrete raising and repair is done by drilling holes in the surface, and injecting material underneath the sunken portions of the piece of concrete. The material is pumped in slowly to carefully raise it back to where it’s supposed to be. The material dries and hardens to hold the concrete securely back in position.
There are a couple of different common methods of doing concrete lifting. The material being used for the raising is what gives each method its name. In other words, the material makes the method. To make matters even more confusing, one of the methods also has some of its own name variations. There’s:
- Mud jacking, and
- Polyjacking, aka poly leveling, aka poly-lifting, aka polyfoam injection
There are probably a few names I forgot about but I think you get the idea. Mud jacking is done with a slurry mixture of topsoil, cement, and water. While polyjacking is done with an expanding polyurethane foam product to raise the concrete from underneath.
There’s a lot more to say about these two methods of concrete lifting, but we’re not going to do it in this article. Check out “Mud Jacking vs. Polyjacking Concrete Repair (Cost, Material, Features)” if you want to know more about how these methods compare to one another.
More About Mud Jacking for Raising Concrete
Now you know what kinds of issues around your home can be fixed with concrete raising. Using concrete lifting is a much less expensive solution than removal and replacement with new concrete. We just mentioned that there are two main methods used to lift concrete: mud jacking and polyjacking. Well, we do mud jacking and can solve your sunken concrete problems.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we don’t fix things that don’t need fixin’, and we don’t try to sell you stuff you don’t need. With 35+ years in the community, we know which concrete is a good candidate for mud jacking and will be the first to tell you if it’s not.
If you want to know more about the process and pros and cons of mud jacking for concrete repair, check this out: What Are the Pros and Cons of Mud Jacking for Concrete Repair?