Why Concrete Settles

Without addressing the core reason behind your sinking concrete, any repair done could be a temporary fix. At A-1 Concrete Leveling, we want our fixes to be permanent and last for years to come. Because of that, we are always looking for the root causes of every issue.

The reasons why concrete becomes uneven are many, but broadly speaking they can be boiled down to four primary causes:

  • Water issues
  • Dry soil conditions
  • Poor compaction,
  • Animal and pest influences.

Read below to get more information on each cause of concrete settling.

Water Issues

Water is one of the main reasons that concrete settles.

Soil will absorb moisture and expand, then contract as it dries out. This constant fluctuation can cause settling.

Water that freezes and thaws in winter months can also break down soil beneath a slab weakening its ability to support the concrete.

Finally, water that continually flows over, and under, concrete can wash out the subsurface, leaving voids that cause the concrete to sink. This can often be a result of downspouts running directly on the ground beside concrete sidewalks or driveways, or poor grading around your concrete slabs.

Causes of concrete settling - water issues

Dry Soil Conditions

Long periods of dry conditions, like during a drought, can cause soils to shrink, especially in areas with lots of clayThis can result in unstable sub-surfaces, and voids which often lead to sinking concrete.

Also, dried-out soil that is then soaked with heavy rain can also lead to sinkage due to voids being filled with now-moistened soil.

Causes of concrete settling - dry soil conditions

Poor Compaction

During construction, sometimes contractors don’t compact the soil well enough before pouring footers or concrete slabs.

This can often happen around foundations where it's hard to properly backfill, as well as sidewalks, steps, driveways, and more.

Causes of concrete settling - poor compaction

Animal/Pest Influences

Animals such as chipmunks, groundhogs, and more can burrow under concrete, creating voids. These voids can also be widened by running water causing even more issues.

Even pests like ants can cause quite a bit of perforation of the soil beneath concrete causing the slabs to sink.

Causes of concrete settling - Animal Insect Infestation


There are a number of factors that can cause concrete to settle over time. Water infiltration, soil compaction, pests, and dry soil conditions are just the four primary culprits. Understanding these causes can help homeowners take preventative measures to protect their concrete and prolong its lifespan.

If you do notice that your concrete has settled, it's important to address the issue promptly to avoid further damage. Professional concrete leveling can be an effective solution for restoring your concrete to its original position and eliminating any safety or aesthetic concerns.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to concrete settling. Regular maintenance, such as sealing the concrete's surface and caulking cracks, can go a long way in protecting your concrete. By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your concrete remains strong and stable for years to come.

A-1 Concrete Leveling has been lifting and protecting concrete for over 30 years. If you'd like to learn what any of our repair and maintenance services can do for you, click the link below to request a free onsite estimate!

We also have an entire library of content available for you to learn even more about concrete repair and maintenance. Check out the following topics from our Concrete Academy:


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Boyd Elliott - Owner

Boyd is our longest-running franchise owner. He's been the owner of A-1 Southeast Michigan and Toldeo since 1994 and during that time it has grown to be one of our largest locations. This means he has the experience, and people in place, to make sure your job is done right the first time, every time.

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A-1 Concrete Leveling, Inc.
(888) 675-3835
388 S. Main St. Suite 402b,
Akron, OH 44311