That Minute You Realize You Have Puddle Problems

You are looking out the back window while enjoying your cup of coffee. A pool of water on the edge of the concrete patio tells you it rained overnight. As you contemplate the weather, it suddenly dawns on you that you’ve seen this before. You realize you have had puddle problems for quite a while. Suddenly you understand something has to be done.

Water would not pool on concrete slabs and driveways in a perfect world. But this world is far from perfect. So rather than get upset over puddle problems, it is best just to get over them and move on to fixing them. How you fix them depends on root causes.

The Concrete Overlay

In a recent Ask the Builder column published by the Washington Post, contributor Tim Carter answered a reader who noticed water pooling near the edge of her patio. A picture of the situation showed something fairly benign. This wasn’t a huge puddle, and it didn’t appear as though the entire structure was sinking.

In this case, Carter recommended a repair known as a concrete overlay. Basically, you affect the repair by adding a thin layer of concrete over the top of the recessed area. Just a couple of inches would be enough in most cases. The only downside is that it could be difficult to get the patch to blend with the existing concrete.

A concrete overlay is appropriate if the problems you are dealing with are not structural. The attached picture led Carter to believe that the patio was otherwise sound. But what if the entire side of the slab had been sinking? A concrete overlay would no longer be an option.

Raise or Replace

The Concrete Raising Company (CRC), a Salt Lake City slab repair contractor, says the only two choices for addressing a concrete patio suffering from significant sinking is to raise or replace the affected material. A slab repair affected by raising doesn’t require digging up the patio and pouring new concrete.

CRC would handle such a repair in Salt Lake City by first assessing the extent of soil erosion underneath. Then they would drill holes in the slab at key locations, holes through which they would pump an expanding foam material. That material would fill in the void and expand as it hardens, raising the concrete back to its original level.

By contrast, replacement would involve pulling up at least the affected portion of the slab, putting down new soil, compacting that soil, and then pouring fresh concrete. There would be a visible seam between the old and new even after the job was complete.

Look at All Your Options

In any situation where a concrete patio seems to be damaged, it’s wise not to jump into a decision right away. It is better to look at all of your options before making a choice. As always, time and research are your friends. The more you know about what is causing the problem, the more easily you will be able to decide on the best type of repair. Professionals are always there to help if you cannot figure it out.

For the record, most homeowners could handle a concrete overlay themselves. With the right equipment, most could handle pouring new concrete as well. Slab repair via concrete raising is another matter. It requires specialized equipment and materials that homeowners generally don’t have access to.

With all that said, go back to enjoying your coffee. Just promise yourself you are going to address your puddle problems as soon as you can. There is no point in letting them get any worse.

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