Homeowners whose concrete slabs have started to sink have a few options for leveling them. In 2019, one of the most popular of these solutions is known as mudjacking. Read on to find a comprehensive guide to mudjacking to find out what to expect before hiring contractors.
What is Mudjacking?
Mudjacking is a process that involves pumping a watered-down mixture of cement and aggregate beneath one or more sunken concrete slabs to raise it to its original surface level. This long-lasting, minimally invasive method for concrete repair is much less expensive than replacing the slabs and it won’t have a negative impact on the surrounding landscape.
Those who want to skip straight to finding a contractor can look at helitechonline.com to learn about one company that can help. Otherwise, keep reading to find out what the process entails.
When is Mudjacking Appropriate?
Mudjacking can only be used to level concrete slabs that aren’t attached to a home’s foundation. It’s great for driveway, walkway, sidewalk, and patio repairs, though.
If a slab is severely cracked or beginning to crumble, mudjacking won’t solve the problem. The damaged slab will need to be removed and replaced with a new one. Otherwise, though, mudjacking is a great solution.
What Does the Mudjacking Process Entail?
Concrete contractors will use specialized equipment to drill small holes in the affected concrete slabs. They will then pump the pre-mixed slurry through these holes to fill in any voids beneath the slab and raise it back to its intended level. Once the process has been completed, the contractors will seal the holes to prevent moisture from getting in and restore the slab’s original appearance.
The entire process can usually be completed in a day or two. Homeowners can expect their contractors to respect their properties and clean up after themselves. Working with concrete is often messy, but the concrete slurry used for slab jacking is easy to clean up and the specialized equipment used by professional contractors is designed to minimize spills, to begin with.
Once the mudjacking process has been completed, the area will look as good as new. The only change homeowners should notice is that their slabs are now level.
Reasons for Concrete Settlement
There are many factors that can influence concrete slab settlement, but the most common of them is inappropriate soil preparation. If the concrete was originally poured in an area that had a lot of loose soil without adequate leveling and tamping, the soil beneath the slab will settle. This causes the slab itself to move.
Invasive tree roots can also cause concrete slabs to settle unevenly. As nearby trees grow, their roots sometimes extend beneath concrete and raise certain areas of the slab up above ground level. This also creates cracks between slabs and allows moisture to get in, exacerbating the problem by encouraging other trees to take root beneath the concrete and causing a negative feedback loop.
In some areas, frost heaves can also cause concrete leveling issues. Frost heaves occur as the water in soil freezes and thaws, causing it to expand and contract. Even well-prepared soil is prone to frost heaves, so there are not many homeowners can do to avoid this problem.
Mudjacking Vs. Slab Replacement
Mudjacking is much more affordable than replacing concrete slabs. Plus, it addresses the underlying issue of soil voids and unstable soil. As long as empty pockets of air are present in the soil, a new slab will be at just as much risk of settling. Mudjacking creates a more stable foundation.
It’s also quicker to hire a contractor who can restore the original concrete slab than it is to pour new concrete and less wasteful. Pouring new concrete slabs takes weeks, while mudjacking can usually be completed in a few hours to a few days. Once the repair job is complete, homeowners can begin walking on their restored concrete almost immediately and can expect to drive on it within 24 hours.
Replacing uneven concrete slabs can also lead to some aesthetic problems. Even the best contractor won’t be able to match the color and texture of the original concrete perfectly, so a new slab will stand out like a sore thumb. Raising the existing slab back to its original grade won’t cause this problem.
Mudjacking Vs. Polyjacking
Polyjacking is similar in some ways to mudjacking, but the process requires pumping polyurethane beneath the slab instead of a concrete slurry. This process is more expensive and less environmentally friendly. With mudjacking, any spills can be cleaned up easily without worrying about how they will impact the surrounding environment, but poly jacking can cause environmental damage as the fill material leaches into the surrounding soil and water table.
Benefits of Mudjacking
Some homeowners may wonder if it’s worth leveling their slabs. The answer is always a resounding yes. Slabs that aren’t level don’t just pose aesthetic problems, but can also present a safety hazard and negatively affect the home’s market value.
The problem will not resolve itself. Concrete slabs that are left askew will be more prone to additional damage in the form of cracks and crumbling. Homeowners who put off repairing their concrete driveways, walkways, and patios will find that they will have to spend far more money replacing the concrete than they would have to hire a mudjacking contractor.
What to Look for in a Mudjacking Contractor
Homeowners should only work with experienced, licensed, and insured concrete contractors. Try to find a company that has been around for a while to make it easier to evaluate its reputation with previous customers and ask for a detailed quote in advance. Reputable contractors will be happy to provide referrals, photos of previous work, and detailed quotes before beginning a new project.
The Bottom Line
Mudjacking is a quick, easy, and affordable process. It offers the best option for concrete leveling available to budget-conscious homeowners and confers the additional benefits of environmental friendliness and improved aesthetics. Just make sure to find a company or contractor with plenty of experience using this technique.