There’s one thing that’s always true about concrete – it is prone to cracking, especially in Toronto where freeze/thaw cycles are common. So, how do you know when to let cracks be and when to fix concrete driveway cracks in Toronto? We’re here to help you uncover the answer to this question.
Even a superb driveway engineered by the greatest minds is still likely to encounter cracks at some point. Luckily, over 90% of concrete cracks are nothing to worry about. Most concrete cracks are so small you can’t even see them unless you look very carefully in the perfect lighting.
Which Concrete Cracks Should You Be Concerned About?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Yet, there is a general rule of thumb. If the crack measures less than 1/8 of an inch wide, you can ignore it. Cracks that measure between 1/8 of an inch and ¼ of an inch are generally nothing worth worrying about. Cracks are generally not serious as long as they remain small and do not get larger over time.
Take a closer look at the crack, more particularly on either side of the crack, checking for any signs that the concrete has shifted up or down, left or right, in or out. This indicates an issue with settlement, in which case you should call out a professional.
If the crack is wider than ¼ inch, it’s important to call out a professional to assess the situation. Cracks of this degree often indicate more serious foundation movement and require closer inspection.
Minor Concrete Cracks
It’s relatively easy to fix minor concrete cracks. There are various products on the market intended to fill and seal minor cracks in concrete, repairing the overall appearance and keeping moisture and air out of surfaces.
The Cause of Concrete Cracks
Concrete cracks in Toronto for a variety of reasons– and often the cause of the crack impacts how serious the issue is and if it requires immediate repairs or not.
Plastic shrinkage is the most common cause of concrete cracks. Before concrete hardens it is considered to be in its plastic state and is full of water. This water takes up space and as the slab cures and losses moisture, it shrinks – putting stress on the concrete slab. Cracks will form if the stress becomes too much. This is especially common in high heat when more moisture is expelled from surfaces.
Plastic shrinkage usually causes hairline cracks. Even a hairline crack can extend the entire thickness of the slab.
Other common causes of concrete cracking include:
- Thermal shrinkage – changes in temperature cause all types of materials, including concrete, to shrink and expand.
- Restraint – concrete that is restrained from moving when put under pressure by settlement, thermal, loading, or other pressures will crack.
- Loads – concrete that is overloaded will crack under pressure, that’s why it’s important to properly design reinforced concrete with rebar.
- Corrosion – If the steel rebar located inside of concrete corrodes it will expand, causing the concrete to crack under pressure.
When Brand New Concrete Cracks
If concrete starts to crack in multiple places within weeks or months of installation, there are underlying issues at play. There are even bigger problems at work if you notice cracks that resemble the scales on an alligator’s back. This usually signals that the concrete was not properly installed and needs to be fixed.
Preventing Concrete Cracks with Proper Installation
Controlled joints are added to concrete driveways to help reduce the chance of cracking by relieving stress on concrete as it dries and cures. The idea is for cracks to form in the controlled joints instead of in the larger field. In addition, the subbase should be properly prepared and reinforced concrete and rebar should be added as needed.
Turnbull Masonry knows concrete! Toronto has trusted us for years when it comes to installing, repairing and maintaining quality and durable concrete surfaces. Contact us today to learn more!