Concrete Sidewalks: The Potential Trip Hazard in Your Front Yard
The sidewalk is part of your home's exterior, but it's not something you give much thought to. As long as your sidewalks are level and damage-free, they seamlessly blend into the environment — giving you easy access to the neighborhood and adding to your home's overall aesthetic.
But when your sidewalk starts to crumble, slump, or slide, it can become a problem. A sidewalk that's in disrepair detracts from your home's exterior appearance, and it can also pose a serious safety hazard.
What do you need to know about sidewalks and safety? Take a look at some of the most common questions that homeowners have about their concrete walkways and potential personal injury or property risks.
What Causes Uneven Sidewalks?
Your sidewalk might not have cracks, holes, or missing pieces of concrete, but that doesn't mean it's completely safe. A sidewalk that is uneven or has adjacent slabs that overlap or gap can pose serious safety issues. How does a sidewalk go from smooth, sleek, and level to being uneven?
There are a few different culprits behind uneven sidewalks. Understanding the cause can help you to better communicate with your concrete contractor and possibly even prevent the problem from happening again.
Invading tree roots are a common cause of uneven sidewalks. Trees that are planted near your sidewalk need room to grow. As the roots push outwards they can slowly move the concrete. Root growth doesn't happen evenly, which means that parts of the concrete slab may move up or shift to the side, while others stay steady. The end result is an uneven surface.
Along with tree roots, changing temperatures and some weather-related issues can cause unevenness. Rapid freeze and thaw cycles, especially when coupled with moisture, can result in sinking and uneven concrete slabs.
Can Other Types of Sidewalk Damage Occur?
Cracks, pits, and chips can all destroy your level sidewalk. While a crack may not result in the same type of unevenness that tree root issues cause, it does pose a safety risk.
Weathering and physical damage can create depressions and jagged edges that are easy for people who are walking over the sidewalk to trip over. Keep in mind, sidewalk cracks don't necessarily happen all at one time. These can take years to develop, starting small and spreading outwards.
In some cases, cracks can appear when the land other the concrete moves and shifts. Likewise, water and ice can also cause cracking and chipping over time.
Why Is Sidewalk Damage Relevant to Homeowners?
There's the obvious first impression that your home's exterior makes. A crumbled concrete walkway doesn't exactly give your home the curb appeal that most homeowners are looking for. But appearance isn't the issue that should be important to you. As the property owner, you may be liable if someone were to trip and fall over your uneven or cracked sidewalk.
The hazard in front of your home isn't just a danger to you. Anyone who is passing by can slip, trip, and fall. Broken bones, concussions, and other injuries that result from your damaged concrete may become your financial responsibility.
How Can Homeowners Minimize Risks?
Simply stated: repair your sidewalks quickly. The longer you let an uneven or cracked sidewalk go, the more likely it is that the damage will grow. This increases the hazard and poses a greater safety risk.
If you're not skilled or experienced in concrete repair, you need a professional contractor to level and restore your concrete sidewalk. Patching cracks yourself may result in more unevenness or end up costing you extra money in the long-run.
Is your sidewalk uneven or cracked? At Accu-Krete, our professional team can reduce safety hazards and give you the level sidewalk that you need.