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6 Common Concrete Problems and How To Fix Them

September 29th, 2023 | 4 min. read

By Sarah Etler

Learn what to do when it comes to the most commonly seen concrete problems.

Over time, your bright, new concrete slabs can begin to show wear and tear. Everything from sunken slabs to chipping and flaking is common as concrete ages.

Here at A-1 Concrete Leveling, we’ve seen every type of concrete damage imaginable over the last 30 years in the concrete repair and maintenance industry. And we know it can be a little overwhelming to figure out what to do when it comes to repairing that damage.

For that reason, we’ve created this guide to walk you through six common concrete problems that property owners often encounter, and then explain how to go about fixing them. 

Whether you're dealing with cracked concrete, broken slab corners, discoloration, water pooling, spalling, chipping, or uneven slabs, we’ve got you covered.



1. Cracked Concrete

Concrete cracks are common everywhere there’s a concrete slab, but they become especially bad in driveways, walkways, pool decks, and garages.

How To Fix Cracked Concrete

  • Patching

Patching with grout or mortar is a common way to address cracks, but it's typically a temporary solution. Over time, the crack can reopen and the patch can chip away as the concrete expands and contracts naturally.

  • Caulking

Applying a concrete-specific caulk is an effective approach for sealing gaps and preventing moisture from infiltrating. Concrete caulk flexes with the natural concrete movement, so it stays in place rather than chipping away. It comes in different colors and can be blended into the slab to reduce the appearance of cracks.

Related Resource: DIY Guide to Caulking Driveway Cracks

  • Epoxy or Polyurea Crack Filler

Interior concrete and garage floor cracks have different needs than exterior concrete slabs as they are not exposed to as much moisture. Filling them with epoxy or polyurea repair liquid can seal the gap and strengthen the concrete at the same time.



2. Broken Concrete Slab Corner

Concrete can break off in large chunks as the slab moves naturally and tension is placed on the rebar tied into neighboring steps or adjoining slabs. Drilling handrails into concrete that then settles can also lead to broken slab corners. This is especially common on concrete steps, porches, and patios.

How To Repair Broken Concrete Slab Corners

  • Patching Kits or Additional Concrete

Patching up the missing chunk of concrete with a special patch kit or extra concrete can work for a while, but it will most likely be a temporary fix. It is a good way to postpone having to replace the whole slab, but will likely break off as concrete naturally expands and contracts. 

This can be dangerous on concrete steps, as the patch can break off as people use that step. Unfortunately, the best way to permanently fix broken concrete step corners, or any slab corner, is to replace the entire slab or section.



3. Concrete Discoloration or Stains

Oil stains, mold, dirt, falling leaves, and built-up grime leave concrete stained and discolored, and it’s especially noticeable on driveways, patios, and walkways.

How To Clean Stained Concrete

  • Pressure or Power Washer

Cleaning your own concrete with a home pressure washer or having professionals use commercial-grade power washers can lift the layer of dirt, grime, and stains causing the discoloration.

  • Stain Remover

For tough stains and deep oil spots, soaking the area with stain remover and letting it sit for a while before cleaning can help lift them out. 

You can make your own stain remover at home with cleaning supplies like dish soap, baking soda, and water, or you can use a stronger, commercially available stain remover, like tri-sodium phosphate (TSP).



4. Water Pooling on Concrete Surfaces

Porches, patios, and driveways often suffer from puddles or pooling water on the surface. This is sometimes due to settling slabs, but often due to the way concrete was originally poured and finished.

How To Fix Water Puddles on Concrete

  • Lift the Settled Slabs

If the puddling is caused by sinking or settling slabs, lifting them up with concrete leveling can help reduce the amount of water on the slab, or redirect the water away instead of allowing it to pool in the low spots.

Related Resource: Can Concrete Leveling Help With Water Issues?

  • Add Extra Concrete

If water is pooling in low spots of the concrete surface, you can fill them in with additional concrete or self-leveling concrete compounds. However, this is a temporary fix that will likely end up chipping off with exposure to moisture and natural concrete expansion and contraction.

Unfortunately, if water is puddling on the surface due to the way the concrete was originally poured, there is no permanent solution to completely eliminate the puddling besides replacing the slab altogether. 



5. Concrete Flaking, Chipping, or Spalling

Driveways, walkways, and patios often suffer from surface damage of all kinds. This is due to their constant exposure to moisture, freeze-thaw cycles, and de-icing salts.

How To Fix Concrete Surface Damage

  • Resurfacing, Patch Kits, and Overlays

Resurfacing your concrete can be a great way to reduce the appearance of spalling, chipping, and flaking for a while, but resurfacing compounds, patch kits, and overlays can rarely completely bond with the cured concrete below. 

This means resurfacing or patching is usually a temporary solution that will eventually flake away as the concrete expands and contracts naturally.

  • Concrete Cleaning and Sealing

While cleaning and sealing the surface won’t make the damage go away, cleaning the concrete can make it less noticeable, and sealing it with a high-quality penetrating sealer can slow the progression of the damage down considerably.



6. Uneven Concrete Slabs

Everywhere from pool decks to A/C pads to sidewalks can suffer from settling concrete slabs. This happens over time due to things like natural soil compaction and soil erosion.

How To Fix Uneven Concrete Slabs

  • Concrete Leveling 

Professional concrete leveling services (stone slurry grout leveling, polyurethane foam lifting, or mudjacking) can lift sinking slabs up to be even with the surrounding concrete. This can be a permanent solution as it replaces the settled or missing material under the slab that caused it to sink in the first place. 

  • Grinding

You can grind down high spots and trip hazards, but this exposes the pores of the concrete and makes it more susceptible to damage over time.

  • Adding Additional Concrete

Adding self-leveling concrete (made especially for exterior concrete if repairing outdoor slabs) or another type of overlay may work for small drops. But, this still leaves the concrete slope uneven and will likely crack off as the concrete expands and contracts.

Your Next Steps

Now that you're familiar with some of the most common concrete problems and how to fix them, you’re ready to address the issues you have around your home or business. 

Whether it's patching cracks, leveling uneven slabs, or removing stains, a well-maintained concrete surface adds value and safety to your property.

If you’d like to learn more about some of the topics discussed in this guide, check out these related articles from our online learning center, Concrete Academy:

Here at A-1 Concrete Leveling, we have locations all over the US that offer some of the repair and maintenance services mentioned above. If you’d like to see what these services can do for you, click the link below to request a free onsite cost estimate!

Click Here to Find Your Nearest Location and Receive a FREE Estimate

Sarah Etler

Sarah Etler joined A-1 Concrete Leveling after receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Northern Kentucky University. As A-1's Content Marketing Manager, she works closely with industry experts to produce content that will best answer questions related to concrete repair and maintenance practices. Sarah loves living a life full of discovery and is excited every day to see what new things she can learn and share with those around her.