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7 Ways To Help Prevent Your Concrete From Settling

June 6th, 2024 | 3 min. read

By Sarah Etler

Proactive maintenance tips to help prevent sinking concrete around your property.

Not only do settling, uneven concrete slabs look bad, but they can also cause dangerous trip hazards for your loved ones and guests.

Settling concrete is such a common problem that it may seem like there’s nothing you can do to stop it from happening – but this isn’t true!

In this article, we’re using our 30+ years of experience diagnosing and lifting sinking concrete slabs to share what you can do to help prevent your concrete from settling.

Already struggling with sinking concrete? Check out this resource: How To Fix Uneven Concrete

Settled concrete driveway due to downspout pointed directly at concrete driveway slab

1. Redirect or Extend Downspouts

Water is one of the main culprits behind soil erosion, which can lead to concrete settling. When downspouts direct water toward your concrete surfaces, it can wash away the soil beneath them. 

To prevent this, ensure your downspouts are redirected or extended to discharge water at least five feet away (downhill) from your concrete slabs. This simple step can significantly reduce the risk of soil erosion and concrete settling.

Soil added around the sides of concrete walkway

2. Build Up Soils and Landscaping

While gutters and downspouts collect and carry away a lot of the water on your property, properly maintaining the grade of the surrounding landscape and yard also helps prevent soil erosion and settling concrete.

Large amounts of soil are disturbed when a home is built. Over time, all of the soil surrounding the house will settle and shift. As these changes naturally happen, it is important to build up the landscape, yard, and soils so that they all help direct the flow of water away from the home and your concrete.

Pro Tip: Depending on how your property is positioned relative to your neighbors’, grading or downspout extensions alone may not be enough to solve the water flow problem.

If this is the case, other drainage solutions, such as a French drain or catch basin, can help adequately route the water away from your property. 

Clogged gutter on roof

3. Clean Gutters

Clogged gutters can overflow, causing water to spill over and wash away the soil under your concrete. Eventually, this can end in your concrete settling.

Regularly cleaning your gutters ensures that water flows properly through the downspouts and away from your concrete. Consider installing gutter guards to minimize debris accumulation and make maintenance easier.

Ground mole in field of grass

4. Eliminate Pests

Pests such as chipmunks, moles, and woodchucks can create tunnels and burrows under your concrete slabs, displacing the soil and creating voids. Over time, the soil settles back down, causing the concrete to sink. 

To prevent this, contract professional pest services to remove burrowing animals, or take measures to control the pests around your property yourself.

Man pumping stone slurry grout leveling compound under sunken concrete wakway

5. Fill Voids Under Slabs

Voids under concrete slabs can occur naturally over time. If there are already existing voids under your concrete slabs, it’s important to fill them to prevent further settling. 

One effective void-filling method is concrete leveling, where a special material is injected through small holes in the concrete to fill the voids and properly support the slab. This process not only stabilizes the concrete but also helps prevent future settling.

Caulked expansion joint between two concrete slabs

6. Caulk Gaps and Cracks

Open cracks and gaps in concrete surfaces allow water to flow through and erode the soil beneath. The water washes away the base that the slab is sitting on, causing it to settle.

By caulking these gaps and cracks, you can prevent water infiltration and protect the underlying soil. 

Use a high-quality, flexible concrete caulk designed to withstand the elements. Regular inspection and maintenance of caulking can extend the life of your concrete and keep it level.

Related Resource: How To Fix Concrete Cracks

Pouring concrete slab

7. Install on Settled and Compacted Ground

When installing new concrete, ensure that the ground underneath is properly settled and compacted. Soil that hasn’t been adequately compacted will continue to settle over time, causing the concrete to sink. 

Additionally, waiting for disturbed soil to settle naturally before installation can prevent future settling issues, although this can take many years.

Note: Proper soil compaction techniques, such as backfilling with dense rock or using a compactor, can help create a stable base for your concrete.

However, proper compacting techniques are becoming less and less common in new concrete installations. 

Settling Concrete FAQ

How long does it take concrete to settle?

The time it takes for concrete to settle depends on various factors, including soil type, moisture levels, and how well the soil was compacted during installation. Generally, it can take between 5 to 10 years for disturbed or loosened soil to fully settle.

Erosion due to water and pest infiltration can cause concrete to settle rapidly.

Can you fix settling concrete?

Yes, settling concrete can be fixed. Methods such as concrete leveling, grinding, and replacement can effectively address settling issues.

It’s crucial to identify and eliminate the root cause of the settling to ensure a lasting repair.

Related Resource: How To Fix Settled Concrete Slabs

Prevent Your Concrete From Settling

Taking proactive steps to manage things like water flow, pests, and voids can significantly reduce the risk of your concrete settling.

Taking care of these small things when you notice them can end up saving you lots of time and money in the long run.

If you’ve noticed your concrete is already starting to settle, you can lift it back up with concrete leveling. Filling voids and putting it back in the proper place can help prevent it from settling further.

Learn more about concrete leveling, or request a free onsite cost estimate with a member of the A-1 team near you! 

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.