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How To Fix A Sinking Patio In Chicago

Sep 18, 2016 • By Matthew Stock with Mike Likvan.

Sinking Patio

If you live in the City of Chicago, then you know how the close proximity of homes in many neighborhoods makes managing rainwater a challenge, because there is nowhere to direct it far enough away from the houses.  And this is a problem.  Water sitting and soaking the ground next to a home’s foundation is the biggest cause of structure and pavement problems in Chicago.

One of the casualties from all this soaking are patios because they rely on dry ground to support the heavy weight of their concrete.  What makes them sink even quicker are the ones that have the added weight of porches, decks and brick barbecues resting on them.

If your patio has already sunk because of years of water erosion, below are three ways you can use to deal with the problem.

Three Options For Fixing A Sinking Patio

OPTION 1: The oldest remedy for fixing sinking concrete like a patio, is to simply break it up, remove it and replace it with a new patio.  The downside of doing this is time and cost.  It takes a while to break up the concrete, haul it away and if you replace it with new concrete, it takes time to install the new patio. You may also have a delay while the permit inspectors approve various stages of the replacement project.  If you elect to replace it with new concrete you certainly won’t have the use of the patio until the new concrete cures properly, and depending on the weather you may have to spend your time watering the concrete to make sure it doesn’t dry too quickly.

Then you’ve got the cost. When you have a contractor break up and remove your concrete there is a cost for labor, machinery, materials, permit and a disposal fee for getting rid of the old concrete.  (It’s not like you can put it on the curb and have the garbage man take it.)  There may also be some additional costs for removing fencing so the machine can get into the area where you have your patio.  And remember there will be a cost to repair landscape damaged during the project.

OPTION 2: Back in the early 1900s, a low-tech alternative to replacing sunken concrete came into use.  A slurry of dirt, crushed stone and sometimes cement were hydraulically injected through holes about the size of a cup holder that were cut into the concrete. The slurry would fill in the area beneath the section of sunken concrete and raise it up.  The upside to having this ‘mud jacking’ done is that the concrete could be used once the slurry dried - typically the same day.  And the cost of doing the process was much cheaper than replacing the concrete.

The downside of this slurry is that it was not a permanent solution to raising concrete.  It adds more weight on top of ground that was already having a problem supporting the weight of the concrete and over time water erodes the slurry. Together these contribute to the concrete sinking again.

OPTION 3: With the arrival of a lightweight, versatile resin called polyurethane, the world gained a more desirable substitute for the ineffective or volatile compounds commonly used in products such as paints, varnishes, adhesives and foams.  It also became a replacement for mudjacking concrete to raise it. 

In its initial liquid state, it can be sprayed into a small hole about finger size. The liquid soaks into the sub-soils to make it more supportive, then quickly expands in all directions, filling the voids beneath the concrete.  This expansion takes only seconds, allowing the results to be controlled. Once the concrete is raised, the polyurethane thoroughly cures in about 30 minutes. Once cured it is extremely lightweight and virtually indestructible.

Polyurethane’s expansion can be powerful, giving it the ability to raise objects as heavy as a highway. On a smaller scale this structural closed-cell polyurethane foam can easily lift your patio.  It has the strength to support the weight without adding more of its own to the area and it doesn’t absorb water or breakdown overtime.  This makes it ideal for raising slabs and filling the gaps beneath them permanently.

The cost to use this technology is also good news.  It’s a happy medium between the expensive, time laden process of concrete replacement and the quick, temporary fix of concrete raising using a mud slurry.

If your patio needs raising and you’re in Chicago or even the surrounding suburbs, why not schedule an Advisor visit so you can put your patio back where it needs to be.

Tags: chicago concrete raising, concrete raising, polyurethane concrete raising

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