Concrete Damage and Frost Heave – What You Need to Know

In northern Utah, concrete damage often occurs due to a phenomenon known as frost heave.

What is frost heave, you ask? Essentially, it’s an upward expansion of the soil due to pressure from subsurface ice. When the ground freezes, concrete shifts out of place, rising as the soil swells. Later on, as the ice thaws, slabs sink. This repeated freeze-and-thaw action frequently results in cracked and uneven concrete.

concrete damage frost heave

Learning more about frost heave can help you prevent damage. If it does occur, be sure to have concrete damage repair done as soon as possible.

Why Frost Heave Occurs

Frost heave only occurs when the ground contains a sufficient quantity of water, the temperature drops enough to make the water freeze and the soil is frost-susceptible.

Generally speaking, coarse-grained, sandy soil isn’t frost-susceptible – but that’s not the type of soil typically found in Salt Lake County and the surrounding regions. Ours has a heavy clay content, which makes it particularly vulnerable to frost heaving.

How to Prevent Frost Heave

You can’t completely prevent concrete damage from frost heave, as you can’t control the outside temperature or how many freeze-and-thaw cycles occur in the winter. However, if you’re planning to install a new slab, you can prepare the area to lessen the likelihood of a problem.

Professional contractors recommend taking one or more of the following proactive steps when installing new concrete:

  • Make sure water supply lines are well below the frost line
  • Place Styrofoam sheets and a layer of crushed stone below the slab
  • Add wire screen or steel rebar for extra support

How to Repair Concrete Damage

If your concrete already has frost heave damage, what can you do about the problem? You have two options – slabjacking or slab replacement.

Slabjacking is a quick and simple fix for concrete damage. The repair involves drilling a few small holes in the damaged concrete, then pumping a cement slurry down into the ground underneath. The mixture fills air pockets within the soil, creating pressure and lifting the slab back into place. Once the cracks and drilled holes are caulked, the repair is hardly noticeable and the concrete is ready for immediate use.

Slab replacement, on the other hand, is much more labor intensive – and much more costly. The process involves tearing out the damaged slab, then installing fresh concrete. This work can take a couple of weeks to complete and, afterward, the slab needs time to cure.

On top of costing more and taking longer, slab replacement doesn’t stabilize the soil like slabjacking. So, if you opt to tear out and replace the slab, you can expect concrete damage to reoccur at some point in the future. For all of these reasons, slabjacking is a smarter solution – and it works for most damaged slabs.

If your northern Utah home or business property as a cracked or sunken slab, call on the professional team at Lift Right Concrete offer expert slabjacking at an affordable price.

Lift Right Concrete, a locally-owned leader in the slabjacking industry for over ten years, offers no-cost, no-obligation consultations and estimates throughout the greater Salt Lake City area and all along the Wasatch Front. For more information on our slabjacking repair service for concrete damage, contact our Grantsville or West Jordan office today.