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Damaged Concrete? 5 Signs You Need Repair + Available Solutions

Perhaps no scientific innovation has propelled mankind further than the invention of concrete. Considered the second most used substance on earth–just short of water–concrete surrounds us everywhere we go in the world. 

Unfortunately, modern concrete is only built to last for a few decades at most. From your sidewalks to your foundation, environmental pressures can slowly eat away at the integrity of your concrete slab, resulting in cracks, sinks, and even discoloration.

This guide will help you diagnose many common causes of concrete damage in Northeast Pennsylvania—from Scranton to Wilkes-Barre to the Poconos—and provide the most effective solutions to restore your concrete without the (hopeful) need to replace it. 

1. Cracks

Unfortunately, the most noticeable and perilous sign of concrete damage is the formation of cracks across the slab.

Cracks in modern foundations and concrete slabs almost always indicate deep structural damage that requires immediate repair. If left unfixed, cracks can allow moisture to seep between them and further weaken the slab and your home’s structural support.

Cracks in driveways and sidewalks are also susceptible to the same long-term effects. 

There are many reasons that cracks form in concrete, including:

  • Shrinkage: As concrete cures and dries, it naturally shrinks, leading to small hairline cracks. These cracks are not considered as severe. 
  • Settlement: Uneven settling of the ground beneath the concrete can cause larger, more significant cracks, inviting moisture. In these cases, void filling is required to repair the slab. 
  • Freeze-Thaw Cycles: In colder climates, like Scranton, repeated freeze-thaw cycles force water surrounding concrete to expand and eventually wear away at its structural integrity. 

Solution: For small cracks, surface sealing with epoxy or polyurethane sealants can prevent water penetration and further damage. 

Larger cracks may require filling with specialized concrete fillers or even complete replacement of the affected area. Cracks formed by voids underneath the slab can be fixed with proper concrete leveling and patching to prevent water from penetrating the slab. 

2. Spalling

Spalling occurs when the surface of the concrete begins to flake or chip away due to long-term weather exposure or erosion. Over time, this exposes the aggregate beneath, inviting moisture and other ill effects. This can happen as a result of:

  • Poor Installation: Insufficient curing time or improper mixing during installation.
  • Chemical Damage: Exposure to harsh chemicals can degrade the surface of concrete over time.
  • Moisture: Water seeping into the concrete and freezing can cause spalling, especially in colder climates.

Solution: To repair spalling, the damaged area must be cleaned thoroughly and patched with a high-quality concrete repair mortar. Sealing the repaired area afterward helps prevent future damage.

3. Settlement

Settlement occurs when the soil beneath the concrete shifts, causing the concrete to sink or become uneven. This can happen for any number of reasons, including: 

  • Poor Soil Compaction: If the soil beneath the concrete isn’t properly compacted during construction, it can settle unevenly over time.
  • Erosion: Water or natural processes can erode the soil beneath the concrete, leading to settlement.

Solution: Concrete leveling will be required to fill the voids underneath the slab and even its surface. While many companies will sell you on mudjacking, we caution our customers against this approach. Mudjacking is highly invasive and only lasts 3-5 years before the slab will begin to settle once more. 

Polyjacking drills penny-sized holes into the slab and fills the void underneath with expandable polyurethane foam. The mixture is water-resistant and dense enough to support the slab for 20-100 years. When totaled, the cost of polyjacking is far superior to mudjacking or slab replacement. 

4. Crazing

Crazing is the formation of shallow, spiderweb-like cracks on the concrete surface. It typically occurs shortly after pouring and is caused by using too much water in the mixture or not allowing enough time to cure. 

Solution: For minor crazing, applying a concrete sealer can help prevent further water penetration and damage. If the crazing is extensive, resurfacing the concrete may be required.

5. Structural Damage

In severe cases, concrete can suffer structural damage, compromising its load-bearing capacity. This can be caused by:

  • Overloading: Exceeding the weight limit the concrete was designed to bear.
  • Corrosion of Reinforcement: Exposure to moisture and oxygen can cause steel reinforcement within the concrete to rust, leading to expansion and cracking.

Solution: Structural repairs should be handled by professionals. Depending on the extent of the damage, solutions may include reinforcing with additional steel bars, applying carbon fiber wraps, or even completely replacing the damaged structure.

Luckily, most forms of natural concrete damage, such as spalling, discoloration, and settlement, can be repaired using patch kits found at most hardware stores or by filling voids beneath the concrete. 

For help with foundation repair or concrete leveling in Northeast PA, contact the experts at EnergySmart for a fast, effective, and affordable solution. 


What are the common causes of concrete cracks?

Common causes of concrete cracks include shrinkage, settlement, overloading, and freeze-thaw cycles.

How can I prevent concrete spalling?

Concrete spalling can be prevented by using air-entrained concrete, proper curing, and applying surface sealers.

What should I do if I notice concrete scaling?

If you notice concrete scaling, address it by removing the affected area and applying a suitable concrete sealer or coating.

How do freeze-thaw cycles affect concrete?

Freeze-thaw cycles can cause concrete damage by expanding water within the concrete, leading to cracks and spalling.