Concrete is an incredibly durable and strong material, but it does have a few weaknesses. Namely, its weight and its porous nature. When these combine with weak soil, erosion, and other structural issues, it is likely that it will start to crack and sink. This phenomenon can be seen in many concrete surfaces, but concrete steps are some of the most commonly affected (and most dangerous) surfaces when damaged. This is why concrete lifting services are so essential. When damage takes root, your safety can depend on speedy and efficient repairs.
The Solutions for Damaged Concrete Steps
When you have damaged concrete steps, there are a few possible solutions that could help you to return your property to optimal condition. Before you can begin the process of repair and restoration, all underlying causes should be addressed.
Before Concrete Lifting: Assessment and Safety
It is important to address all underlying causes when it comes to structural issues like this. As such, every repair process starts with a thorough, professional assessment of the property and the damaged steps. By booking an inspection, you can get a free quote and a guarantee that underlying causes and issues are addressed. This will enable you to prepare, and make an educated choice as to what is best for your property.
Lifting and repairing your concrete steps will also be placed behind structural repairs in terms of importance. If the professional inspection uncovers a serious foundation issue like settlement, for example, a professional will recommend that you fix this issue before you try to address the damage to your steps. This is partly for reasons of safety, but also because of the nature of structural repairs.
The installation of push piers, for example, will require excavation and will often include the raising of your foundation back into its original place. As such, repairing damaged steps before doing this would be superfluous. The process of foundation repair is likely to disrupt the repairs to your steps.
Concrete Lifting: Solutions
Once all underlying issues and structural problems have been addressed, experts can lift your damaged concrete steps back into place. There are a few options for doing this, but the most common and popular is PolyRenewal™ foam.
PolyRenewal™ Vs. Replacement
The PolyRenewal™ system is a unique and modern solution to damage or sunken concrete slabs and steps. As a two-part polyurethane foam, this system is both effective and durable. The minimally invasive installation process involves injecting the pre-mixed foam into the cavity beneath a surface. The foam itself can be mixed to tailor the expansive force of the foam. It is this force that will lift your steps back into place.
The benefits of this process in comparison to older and less effective methods are many. As well as being lightweight, PolyRenewal™ foam is non-porous and water-resistant. This means that it will not add to foundation drainage issues. Furthermore, this foam is incredibly quick to cure. It should reach 90% rigidity within an hour and be fully set within a few hours. This means that you can get back to normal far more quickly. The main downside is the slightly increased cost, but many people say that this is worth the investment because of the one-and-done nature of the solution.
PolyRenewal™ is far preferable to replacement for a number of reasons. First and foremost, replacing concrete steps can be time consuming, disruptive, and incredibly expensive, as well as generally ineffective. The biggest problem with replacing concrete is that replacement does not actually deal with the underlying issues that caused the concrete to crack in the first place. This means that as well as replacing the concrete steps, you will still have to invest in some kind of solution to the underlying issue, whether it’s PolyRenewal™ to fill a void or extra drainage to prevent lateral movement.
However, there are some cases in which replacement is the only viable option. While lifting and repairing damaged concrete is possible, there is a point at which it is simply too damaged to repair. In these cases solutions like PolyRenewal™ will not be viable without also replacing the steps in question. A dual process will, of course, provide viable and high-quality results, but it will be disruptive and generally cost much more.
No matter what your concrete steps look like, no matter what you have heard will be the best solution for you, you should always consult a professional. These repair solutions are effective, but they can also be dangerous if used incorrectly. If you try to go it alone, you could damage your home or, worse still, cause injury to yourself and anyone helping you. Because of this, we always recommend that you talk to a Foundation Recovery Systems expert.
Installing PolyRenewal Polyurethane Foam
Whatever the underlying cause, sinking or uneven concrete steps are most likely to be rectified with the help of PolyRenewal foam. That’s because this is one of the most effective and efficient methods of concrete lifting and repair on the market right now. The installation process is relatively simple, but there are some preparatory steps which must be taken. Any structural issues that affect your home as a whole, for example, will need to be dealt with first.
Once the structure of your property has been deemed secure, the first step in PolyRenewal installation will be the drilling of holes into the concrete steps. These holes will be no larger than a penny and are there to allow for the foam to be injected. Injection ports will then be installed to prevent spillage and mess. Installers will then mix the two-part foam to give the right level of expansion and expansive force. The foam will reach roughly 90% rigidity within an hour and a half.
Once the foam has set sufficiently, installers will remove the injection ports so that the drill sites can be smoothed and sealed. This ensures a flawless and professional result which is beautiful as well as effective.
What Can Concrete Lifting Do for My Uneven Steps?
Concrete lifting processes are varied and flexible. When you contact a professional to address the issues around your property, they will recommend an option that is best suited to your situation. However, there are two main benefits to concrete lifting when you have uneven steps.
Restoration to Their Original Condition
The most obvious benefit of concrete lifting, and the main aim, is that it will raise your steps back to their intended position. This is better for you in terms of both safety and appearance. Uneven and damaged stairs are incredibly dangerous when left unaddressed. By returning the steps to their intended state, concrete lifting will prevent trips and falls.
Better yet, most concrete lifting measures will also make it possible to address the cosmetic damage. Once your steps are securely in place, a professional will be able to resurface the concrete to make them look as good as new. This is not only an effective process, but also relatively straightforward and quick, and that means less stress for you.
Increased Stability in the Future
Certain concrete lifting measures can also prevent issues like this from arising in the future. PolyRenewal™ foam, for example, is an excellent concrete lifting solution for properties that sit on loose or weak soil. While mudjacking uses a concrete slurry that is heavy, takes a long time to set, and is porous, PolyRenewal™ uses a two-part polyurethane foam that is lightweight and water-resistant. Better yet, PolyRenewal™ will set far more quickly.
This means that you can use your concrete steps more quickly after a repair, but also rely on the solution to hold out against recurrence. For example, mudjacking may overburden already weak soil and cause the steps to sink again. It may also take on water and contribute to foundation saturation and soil washout. In contrast, PolyRenewal™ will add very little weight to the already unstable soil under your steps and resist saturation.
When is Concrete Lifting Necessary for Steps?
While there are varying degrees of damage, we recommend that you have your concrete stairs assessed the moment you notice signs of damage and instability. Damage to your steps could well be part of an isolated incident, but it is more often than not a sign of issues within the soil that supports them. As such, it’s likely to get worse over time. Nonetheless, there are some warning signs that you should be aware of. If you see any of these, it is definitely time to call a professional in.
Hairline cracks (defined as cracks too small to fit a credit card into) are generally nothing to worry about. However, if you notice deep cracks or cracks that seem to be spreading, it is time to call in a professional to assess the situation. The presence of cracks like this is a definite sign that your concrete steps are under immense pressure from somewhere.
Gaps Between Steps
If you notice that gaps are starting to form in between steps, this is a sign that your concrete stairs are sinking, at least at ground level. Either that or something is causing the section of your property closest to them to heave upward.
If your steps appear to be sinking into the earth and separating from your property, it is time to contact a professional. This is a sign that the soil under your home is weak, marshy, or otherwise incapable of handling the strain of the structure. If you are lucky, this may be an early warning sign.
A Floating Bottom Step
A floating bottom step is a step that appears to have separated from the ground beneath it rather than from the other steps or your property as a whole. This is most likely a sign of erosion or soil washout and is not something that you should ignore.
These are only some of the signs that you should be aware of, but they are some of the most serious. If you see these warning signs, you should not ignore them. Ignoring red flags like this could allow severe issues to go untreated, thereby letting them grow and spread.
What Are the Potential Risks of Not Fixing Damaged Steps?
If you do not fix damaged steps, you could end up facing serious consequences, both personally and in the health of your property. This may seem dramatic, but you should keep in mind that sinking or damaged steps are as much a symptom of damage as they are an independent form of damage. While there are many potential issues that could arise from ignoring steps that are in need of repair, the three most pressing are:
Undiagnosed Problems Snowballing
There is every chance that your steps have been damaged by an isolated issue, but there is an equal chance that this damage is simply a warning sign for a more serious issue at work. By ignoring your damaged steps, you could allow more damage to take root and spread in your property. For example, sinking steps could be a warning sign of foundation subsidence.
Even if there are not more serious issues at work underneath your property, ignoring damaged concrete steps could easily result in injury to you or others in your family. Uneven or unstable steps are particularly dangerous to the elderly, young children, and those with mobility issues or physical disabilities. There is also the possibility of wider structural damage going unnoticed and leading to issues like dampness and mold formation. Both are incredibly unhealthy for those with underlying medical conditions.
Increased Repair Costs
By letting your damaged steps continue as they are, you run the risk of compounding the damage through regular use. This can increase your repair costs exponentially, depending on the issues at work and how they have developed since you first noticed them. Steps that need to be replaced rather than repaired are one thing, of course, but fixing a subsiding foundation or bowing walls is another thing entirely.
Concrete lifting, by contrast, is easy, quick, and very cost-effective. There is no reason to avoid calling in an expert when you have visible damage to your property’s concrete steps.
Concrete Step Repair
Uneven, sunken, and crumbling steps are dangerous to anyone who may enter or exit your property, but there are a few people who are more vulnerable than others.
People with Mobility Issues or Disabilities
Stairs often cause difficulties for people who have issues with mobility or disabilities. When those stairs are dangerous or unstable, though, the danger increases greatly. If anyone in your home needs a walking aid like a cane or walker, they will be at greater risk of falling around these stairs, especially if there is no railing in place. This is something you may expect, but you should also consider people who have sight impairments and hidden disabilities.
People who have depth perception issues or problems with their spatial awareness and hand-eye-coordination will also have trouble with stairs that are sunken or uneven. This danger will, once again, increase if the steps are also loose or actively unstable. If you or anyone has issues like this, you should address your damaged concrete steps quickly.
The Elderly and Very Young
Those who are elderly or very young will also be at higher risk when traversing damaged or uneven steps. Young children who are running around, for example, can easily misjudge the distance and dimensions of steps anyway. When the steps are uneven or irregular, this risk increases. A spill up or down the stairs for a child can be very serious.
Likewise, even a small fall can be serious for elderly people. Even a healthy older person who does not need a walking aid faces a higher risk of injury on uneven steps. Furthermore, any fall that they do have is more likely to end in a serious injury like a broken bone if the person in question is elderly or frail. This can have long-term repercussions. As such, it’s best to simply deal with the damaged steps quickly.
No. Concrete lifting is a specialist task that requires the use of professional-grade tools and products to ensure a safe and effective repair process.
Misdiagnosis is Common
In order to safely and efficiently address the damage to your concrete steps, you must first diagnose the actual cause of the damage. This will be all-important in ensuring that the right solution is identified and deployed. Of course, diagnosing the difference between soil washout and subsidence is something that non-professionals will find difficult.
If you try to address this issue yourself and misdiagnose the cause of the damage to your concrete steps, you are unlikely to actually formulate an appropriate solution. A professional, however, will find it very easy to diagnose the issues that are at work on your property. This means you will be guaranteed an effective solution.
Unsuitable Repairs Make Things Worse
If you go ahead with an attempted DIY repair, despite being unsure of the actual causes of the damage, you run the risk of causing more issues. In fact, installing the wrong solution could have an effect on your entire home, not just the damaged steps. Using mudjacking on weak soil, for example, could cause it to shift further.
This would have a number of effects, but the most serious potential outcome would be a shift in the soil that affects the stability of your foundation. While your property’s foundation has been designed to withstand a lot, after all, it relies heavily on the soil underneath it to be effective. Anything that affects your soil has the potential to also affect your foundation. That makes it far better to leave this kind of work to an expert.
Foundation Recovery Systems Specializes in Concrete Lifting
Foundation Recovery Systems has been one of the most reputable concrete and foundation specialists in Kansas City, Moberly, St. Louis, and Springfield since 1992. Our team of skilled inspectors can tackle any issue, no matter how big or small, with confidence and efficiency. If you have noticed damage to your concrete steps and are concerned about the progression or causes of this issue, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.
Contact us today to schedule a free inspection. We will provide you with a same-day, written estimate for all costs to ensure that you feel empowered to make an educated choice about what is best for your home.