We’ve all come across a footpath; however, have you ever noticed that they have gaps or lines in between them? Better yet, have you ever wondered why there are gaps or lines in the first place?
These gaps are not placed in concrete footpaths for design purposes; rather, these gaps are intentionally added to help keep the concrete’s structural integrity intact. However, how do they do this? If you have often wondered about this, then we’re here to help provide all the answers you are looking for. If you would like to learn more, please continue reading below.
The Purpose Of Concrete Footpath Gaps
When concrete and other common construction materials are subjected to changes in extreme temperatures, they can be prone to expanding and contracting. If concrete is poured as one long slab, expansion and contraction due to the weather’s temperature can lead to cracks, buckles, and breaks.
As such, one way to avoid this from happening is by adding uniformed and evenly spaced gaps. These gaps are known as expansion joints, which are designed to let concrete have room to expand and contract without damaging its structural integrity.
When concrete dries, it can also be prone to shrinkage. With the introduction of expansion joints, when the concrete dries and shrinks cracks that may form as a result should form in the path of the expansion joints. This is because this is where the concrete is the thinnest. If the cracks follow the expansion joints, the cracks won’t appear so bad.
These cracks are installed by concrete sawing machines, special grooving tools, or plastic strips known as zip-strips. The joints should be placed deep enough to ensure that the cracks appear in the right or preferred places.
Therefore, if the concrete is constructed properly, it can be resistant to cracking due to expansion and/or contraction from changes in temperature. Of course, this will keep the concrete crack-resistant for quite some time.
Why Do Concrete Footpaths Crack?
While concrete is recognised as a long-lasting building material, at some point in its lifetime it will inevitably develop cracks – it’s just a matter of when.
Concrete will be even more prone to cracking if it is subject to poor construction such as incorrect blending of cement mixture or not properly curing the concrete slab. Both of these problems can lead to premature cracking and the development of structural problems with the concrete.
Additionally, cracks in concrete can also arise due to voids in the soil below the slab. If a new concrete slab is poured on a poorly-compacted surface, this can trap empty pockets of air in the soil. Over time as the soil begins to settle in those pockets, the concrete slab can sink and crack.
Well-built concrete footpaths can still be prone to cracks, but with proper construction practices, this can be delayed as much as possible. Therefore, precautionary measures such as expansion joints are one way by which concrete cracks can be controlled and mitigated in the future.
Repairing Concrete Cracks
When it comes to repairing concrete footpath cracks, you can either replace the broken portions or carry out a slab jacking repair.
Replacement can be quite costly given that you will need to remove the old slab and construct a new one. You also have to consider whether the underlying soil needs to be stabilised, because if it isn’t stabilised and you add a new concrete slab then it will pretty much develop the same problem.
Slab jacking is less expensive and can fill voids in the soil so that cracks are prevented. It is also quick, easy, and mess-free. Once the job is finished, the footpath will be levelled and restored.
Concrete footpaths have gaps between them by design. Since concrete is prone to expansion and contraction from weather temperatures or during the drying process, cracks, buckles, and breaks can easily form.
With gaps or expansion joints, cracks will be more easily controlled and concentrated on specific areas. While cracks are inevitable, expansion joints are just one way to put them off for as long as possible.
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