Lifting settled concrete with mudjacking is a tricky process, but it is possible to DIY with the right tools and knowledge.
Here at A-1 Concrete Leveling, we’ve been providing professional concrete lifting services for 30+ years, but we know that many people like to tackle repair projects themselves.
For this reason, we’ve put together this guide to help you decide if it’s a project you’d like to take on for yourself.
We’ll cover the tools you’ll need for DIY mudjacking, the steps in the process, the risks involved when tackling mudjacking yourself, and some additional alternatives to consider before jumping in.
Yes, mudjacking can be DIYed with the right tools, equipment, and knowledge.
However, it’s often difficult to find the right equipment, and there are many tricky parts of the mudjacking process that make it hard to do well without proper training and experience.
For these reasons, DIY mudjacking usually isn’t recommended. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Hydraulic Grout Pump
A hydraulic grout pump (sometimes called “hydraulic slurry pump”) can be used to pump the mudjacking mixture under the concrete.
Grout pumps aren’t common, everyday tools, so you’ll likely have to rent one from a tool rental company.
Professional mudjacking units are much larger and specifically designed for mudjacking, whereas grout pumps are compact and can be used for many different applications.
A hammer drill with a carbide bit is the best way to drill through concrete slabs.
Hammer drills are designed to hammer into the concrete and rotate at the same time, making them ideal for drilling through hard materials.
Alternatively, you could use a concrete coring drill. This requires a diamond core bit and works similarly to a drill press.
A bagged mudjacking compound purchased at a concrete retailer can be mixed with water to create the material needed to lift slabs, or you can make your own with soil, sand, and water.
You can also add Portland cement to the mixture to increase overall strength. However, Portland cement begins to harden as soon as water is added. This can leave a short window for performing the DIY and risk hardening on the equipment.
Doing mudjacking as a DIY project will follow the same process as professional mudjacking.
Each step is important, and precision is crucial to avoid doing more damage or overlifting the slab.
1. Make a Plan for the Lift
You’ll first need to evaluate the area and determine where and how much to lift the concrete. This plan will help you decide where you place the drill holes and how much mudjacking mixture you’ll need.
Most of the time, professionals will drill into the concrete and measure the depth of the void under the slab causing it to settle. This can be very helpful in determining how much mudjacking mixture will be required to lift the concrete.
2. Drill Holes in the Slab
Next, you’ll need to drill holes where you can later pump the mudjacking mixture under the concrete. Be careful during this step, as it can be easy to crack the concrete if not done correctly.
Professional mudjacking holes typically range from 2-2.5” in diameter, but when doing mudjacking as a DIY project, your drill hole size will depend on the size and pressure of your mudjacking pump.
3. Create the Mudjacking Mixture
Once the holes are drilled, you’ll need to mix the ingredients for your mudjacking compound. You can buy this premade from a concrete retailer, or you can create your own mixture of soil, sand, and water. You can also add Portland cement as an optional strengthening agent.
You’ll want the mudjacking material to be thin enough to pass through the pump and hose, but thick enough to build up pressure under the slab to lift the concrete.
4. Lift the Slab
Next, you’ll need to set up the hydraulic pump and add the mixture to the hopper. Make sure that all of the connections are tight so that no material leaks out and you have the proper pressure.
To lift the slab, put the end of the hose into one of your drill holes and pump in the mudjacking mixture. Place your foot on the hose nozzle so that it stays in place.
Pro Tip: Make sure to pump in the mudjacking material slowly – you can always add more material, but you can’t take any away if you over-lift the slab!
Once that section is lifted to the desired height, remove the nozzle and insert it in the next drill hole. You’ll likely need to move around to all the holes multiple times to get the slab to the proper level and slope.
5. Cut the Slab (Optional)
Sometimes settled concrete slabs will get stuck on each other when lifted back into place. If this happens while lifting your own concrete, you’ll need to use a concrete saw to carefully cut away the portion of the slabs that are stuck on one another to allow them to move freely again.
This can be difficult to predict and execute without much experience. Be as careful as possible as this can be a safety hazard.
6. Patch the Drill Holes
After the concrete is lifted back up to the proper position, you’ll need to patch the holes left behind.
Use a non-shrink grout that closely matches the color of your concrete to reduce the appearance of the holes. Sand or an aggregate mix can be useful for blending the patched holes in with the surrounding concrete.
7. Caulk Cracks and Joints (Optional)
Water erosion is often the reason concrete settles in the first place. Caulking the cracks, gaps, and joints in your concrete after mudjacking can help prevent water from causing the concrete to settle again.
Without the specialized hydraulic grout pump, doing an authentic DIY mudjacking repair won’t work.
But we’ve seen some additional DIY concrete lifting techniques attempted throughout our years in the concrete repair industry. Here are just a few:
- Lifting settled slabs with jacks or pry bars
- Lifting slabs with wooden planks and packing sand in the voids
- Injecting expanding foam from a can under the slab
However, we don’t recommend trying these. They can be dangerous and can do more harm than good to the slab – the stress put on the concrete by lifting from just a few spots puts it more at risk for cracking during the attempted repair.
Learn more about these methods and DIY concrete leveling in general with this resource: Can You DIY Concrete Leveling?
While you technically can do mudjacking yourself, it does come with some significant risks.
When drilling holes in concrete, you have to be very careful so that the slab doesn’t crack. If done too quickly, with too much pressure, or with the wrong tools, it could cause anything from a little crack to a large break.
Additionally, if the mudjacking mixture doesn’t fill the voids under the slab completely, which can be difficult to do even for professionals, the unsupported sections of concrete are weak and can crack under pressure.
Slabs can also unintentionally crack if they aren’t lifted strategically to relieve stress or tension the concrete may be under.
Depending on the speed and pressure of your hydraulic grout pump, it may be hard to control how much your slab has raised.
Also, it can be tricky to see just how much the slab has moved as you stand on the hose nozzle pumping the mixture under the concrete.
Lifting it too far up can be easy to do. And remember, once the mudjacking material is under the concrete, you can’t remove it.
Professional Concrete Leveling
Professionals lift concrete day in and day out, and their extensive experience and access to specialized equipment will usually mean better results when compared to DIY.
Rather than lift concrete to reduce trip hazards, you can grind down the surface of the uneven slabs.
This option can leave the concrete weaker and increase the risk of damage to the slab. It also may leave it looking patchy. However, it can be a cheaper and quicker way to make your property safer.
Adding Additional Concrete
To reduce trip hazards, you may be able to pour additional concrete or add a concrete patch to the uneven area.
This may work temporarily, but it will likely chip away relatively quickly as the layer of concrete can’t properly bond to the existing concrete.
While DIY mudjacking might seem like a good option on the surface, the complex process, coupled with the risk of damage, makes it challenging for the average homeowner.
At A-1 Concrete Leveling, we understand the appeal of tackling home repair projects on your own. But for mudjacking, and concrete leveling in general, it's usually better to leave it up to the professionals.
While we don’t do mudjacking, our stone slurry grout leveling and foam services come with their own unique benefits. Learn more about each with these resources:
- Stone Slurry Grout Leveling: The Pros and Cons
- Foam Concrete Leveling: The Pros and Cons
- Types of Concrete Leveling: Comparing Mud, Stone, and Foam
If you're ready to see what professional concrete leveling services can do for you, click the link below to request a free onsite cost estimate with an A-1 expert: