The birds are singing as you slowly wake up to the crisp morning air. Yes, spring in all its many manifestations is finally here. The trees are waking up, the grass is thinking about growing, the flowers are stretching their limbs getting ready to pop out, and your concrete lies suffering from the many abuses that winter and the ice / snow / saturated earth have subjected it to. What is a homeowner supposed to do to ease the pain and to minimize the damage to their concrete?
An annual spring inspection of the concrete in and around your home is an important first step. Here is what to look for in your outdoor concrete (walkways, front entry, driveway):
- Check to see if your concrete has moved over the winter. You can find this by looking to see if any of the joints have opened on either your driveway or walkway or if there are new cracks in any of your concrete. Joints are designed to be sealed to prevent water from getting underneath your slab. If water runs through them, they are open and need to be repaired. Cracks big enough to put the head of a ballpoint pen into need to be closed before they become bigger. Joint and crack repair
- Look to see how clean your driveway is. Even if it looks clean to the naked eye, you need to wash the driveway to remove any of the deicing chemicals that are put on the roadways in the winter time. We recommend that you always use a detergent cleaner that will “pull” the dirt and chemicals out of the driveway and give you a deeper cleaning. Driveway cleaners
- Look for oil stains left by visitors or service personnel parking on your driveway. Oil stains need to be removed as they are unsightly and diminish the curb appeal of your home. Over 30% of the front of your home is the driveway. Gray-Out
- Look for rust stains. Rust stains can come from scrapes left by snow removal equipment or snow shovels. They can also come from fertilizer. Many people do not realize that many of the fertilizers used in the spring have iron in them. If the pellets of fertilizer are on your driveway and get wet, they can result in ugly rust stains on your concrete. Make sure that either you or your lawn service blow all the fertilizer off of your concrete after it is applied. Rust remover
- Look for pit and pops in your concrete surface. These usually occur from the freeze-thaw action of snow or ice melting on your concrete and then refreezing and expanding inside your concrete. If this is happening, you need to seal your concrete with a commercial grade penetrating chemically-reactive sealer to minimize future damage and to stop any open pits or pops from getting any bigger. Concrete sealer
- Sealing your concrete not only protects it from freeze-thaw damage in the winter but it protects it from hot, dry air in the summer pulling the moisture through the concrete and creating efflorescence (white areas on your concrete). Efflorescence remover Sealing also reduces staining and prevents dirt from getting into the pores of the concrete. Plus it makes it much easier to remove snow and ice in the winter time.
- Look for areas where water sits close to the concrete due to vegetation or lack of drainage. Concrete that sits in a saturated area can degrade from the bottom up causing d-cracking. Once this starts, it is very difficult to stop. Usually the concrete with the d-cracking will need to be replaced. D-cracking. Sealing your concrete can slow this down but cannot reverse it once it has started.