Concrete leveling is an efficient and hassle-free way to lift sunken or raised sidewalks, interior floors, monolithic slabs, patios, pool decks, driveways, and more.
While the concrete leveling process is relatively straightforward (drill holes, pump in material to lift the slab, then seal the holes) for pieces of flat concrete on their own, it can get tricky when foundations are involved.
This is because, in some cases, it’s hard to tell for sure whether or not the foundation is moving, or if it's just the flat concrete that needs repair. Garages, interior floors, and porches are typically the areas that require an extra look to check for foundation movement.
After over 30 years of repairing concrete, here at A-1 Concrete Leveling, we know that determining whether your uneven concrete may require leveling, foundation repair, or both is critical before jumping into any concrete repair project that is nearby or connected to a foundation.
This article will help you understand why this is the case by looking at how flat concrete can be connected to foundations, why in some cases the foundation has to be repaired before leveling the concrete can take place, and how you can determine that there are foundation issues at all.
To understand whether you need concrete leveling, foundation repair, or both, it’s important to first get to know how flat concrete panels are connected to the foundation.
If there are no walls or foundation footings around your concrete, it will only require concrete leveling to repair the sunken or uneven areas. On the flip side, if there are walls or foundation footings involved, you may need both leveling and foundation piers, or one or the other, to repair the area.
Garage & Interior Concrete Floors
To construct garages and interior concrete floors, like basements and slab homes, concrete footers are put in place to hold up the walls all around the slab.
Once these footers and walls are installed, the area is backfilled and rebar is set down and tied into the footers. Then, concrete is poured into the area and finished accordingly, creating the interior floor.
Due to the nature of this construction method, if a foundation footing/wall starts settling and the rebar within the concrete slab goes with it, the floor will also settle. The settling wall can put downward pressure on the concrete, causing tension that will likely need both piers and leveling to correct.
If, on the other hand, only the concrete floor, and not the wall, has settled, you can typically go ahead with just concrete leveling. In this case, there’s no tension between the foundation and the concrete slab.
Porches are often constructed by first creating exterior walls out of concrete, then backfilling the void in the center with gravel or other material. Then, a concrete slab is poured on top to serve as the porch surface.
Because the slab is poured on top of the porch’s foundation walls, if those walls move, everything, including the concrete slab, will likely move with it. If this is the case, you may need piers to stabilize the porch walls before attempting to level the concrete on top.
If the porch wall movement isn’t significant, it may be possible to level the concrete on top without piers, as long as you continue to monitor and check for movement.
Pro Tip: Sometimes foundation piers will be needed on large sets of concrete steps that are beginning to settle, and it’s worth the investment because big concrete steps are very expensive. No matter what, it’s very hard to stabilize them with concrete leveling alone.
When considering concrete leveling to repair sunken, settled, or raised concrete slabs nearby a foundation, it’s important to first check to make sure that the foundation itself isn’t moving.
Garage & Interior Concrete Floors
To gauge whether or not the foundation is moving when trying to level garage floors or other concrete floor slabs, check to make sure there are no cracks in the walls. If there aren’t you can likely level your concrete slabs without issue.
However, if you do see cracks in the walls, it’s beneficial to have an expert come out and assess the damage. A qualified professional will be able to determine if there’s been too much movement, or if the walls are continuing to move.
If the foundation issues are worsening, it’s best to take care of the problem before attempting to level the flat concrete slabs. However, if the walls are not moving anymore and the damage from the initial movement is not too extreme, it may be okay to go ahead with the leveling repair.
Foundation piers can be used if the structure is continuing to move, or if the walls have moved and are preventing the floor slabs from being lifted.
Similarly to interior concrete and garage floors, when looking at a porch in need of repair, you must check to make sure there are no cracks in the foundation walls holding up the top porch slab.
If there are cracks in the porch’s foundation in addition to a settled concrete slab, you may need to repair the foundation before lifting the sunken porch slab. In some cases, you may be able to do both repairs at the same time, or one or the other.
However, if the only problem is that the concrete slab on the porch has settled, and there’s no evidence of foundation movement, you will likely be good to go ahead and level it.
If your porch has started pulling away from your house, it will likely need foundation repair piers if it keeps moving. If it has pulled away significantly and you want to put it back into a better position, foundation piers will likely be the answer.
It can be a little overwhelming to think you have to address foundation problems on top of your concrete leveling repair, but getting the problems taken care of as soon as possible will help ensure that your concrete and foundation last as long as possible.
Concrete leveling is a relatively quick and efficient process, and many concrete repair companies perform both services, making it even more convenient to get even, safe concrete.
Getting in contact with an experienced concrete leveling or foundation repair professional will help you pinpoint what exactly your concrete needs. Each situation has its own unique variables, so it’s important to check with an expert to find out whether or not your foundation is in need of repair, or if it’s only a settling concrete slab.
Here at A-1 Concrete Leveling, we’ve been lifting and leveling concrete for over 30 years, and in this time, we’ve helped countless homeowners take back their concrete with both leveling and foundation repair services.
While not all of our nationwide locations repair foundations, all of our experienced concrete experts will be able to let you know what’s needed to restore your concrete.
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