Regardless of your contractor’s skill level, it’s common for concrete surfaces to develop cracks or pitting. This is a common issue during the winter, when freeze-thaw cycles cause this material to frequently shrink and expand. While it’s nearly impossible to prevent concrete from cracking, understanding how this occurs can help you prepare preventative measures.
Types of Cracks
Though they might all look similar to the untrained eye, each crack differs, and certain types carry unique risks. The most common types of concrete cracks include:
- Plastic-Shrinkage Cracks: Often formed during the concrete curing process, these cracks are unevenly distributed and tend to be short.
- Map Cracking: This type of damage resembles a web of fine lines across the surface of cement driveways and paths.
- Hairline Cracking: This damage tends to be very thin on the surface, but often goes deeper than other cracks.
- Spalling: These depressions are often caused by pressure from under the surface, such as from tree roots.
How Cracks Occur
Winter Freeze-Thaw Cycles
Concrete tends to shrink and expand due to severe changes in humidity and temperature. This is why cracking often occurs during the winter, when ice and snow create an excess of moisture on the ground. When snow and ice come into contact with concrete, it will seep into the surface after it melts. Once the temperature drops again, it will refreeze and expand, causing the surface to crack. Summer’s extreme sun and heat can also cause concrete to expand, making cracking inevitable.
The trees that shade your property are another common culprit of cracking. If planted too close to your driveway or sidewalk, their roots will expand underneath the surface and put pressure on its sub-base that can create fissures.
Vehicles that weigh more than 10 tons can cause scarring or cracking on your driveway. All it takes is one winter freeze-thaw cycle to cause these crevices to expand. To prevent this from occurring, try to distribute weight evenly on concrete surfaces or park heavy vehicles elsewhere.
While cracking can be inevitable, hiring a reputable contractor will help preserve your concrete surfaces and prevent further damage. Builder’s Concrete East in Windham, CT, has been producing the finest ready-mix concrete and concrete blocks in the area for more than 50 years. Learn more about their products online or by calling (860) 456-4111.