Cracked or Sunken Driveway

Concrete driveways seem to most people solid as a rock. The problem: it’s characterized by heavy traffic from heavy vehicles. Not only this, your driveway is a part of your yard’s ecosystem. That means vegetation will often grow around it or in the cracks or joints. It also means drainage from your house often makes its way around and possibly under the soil holding your driveway up. It’s important to understand how your driveway is constructed, and to keep an eye on your concrete to watch for signs of settlement to address the problem early.

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Understanding Driveway Concrete

Not all driveways are concrete, but many are. A common question is “why are there lines in the concrete?”. These lines are actually joints, referred to commonly by several names: expansion joints, contraction joints, or control joints. Most good contractors dig down, create forms usually out of lumber, and add 3-4″ of gravel as a base layer on which to pour concrete. Once the concrete is dry, the joints are cut in. These allow the soil to expand and contract to some degree with less probability of cracking.

Why Do Driveways Crack and Sink?

While expansion joints are helpful, several issues are against us when it comes to driveways. These include heavy use, deterioration from weather, drainage, unstable soils, and vegetation.

Precipitation and excess water can lead to erosion and soil washout under concrete driveways and walkways.


Water: necessary for life, but incredibly destructive! Indiana certainly needs rainwater for all our crops, but rain and melting snow erodes soil more than most people realize. Washout tends to happen around concrete driveways, especially if drainage is less than optimal. Heavy rainfall accelerates this process and tends to wash out vast amounts of soil during intense weather events. Your driveway suffers as the soil it relies on begins to erode.

Soil erosion under concrete leading to sinking and breaking

Unstable Soil

Indiana’s soil varies across the state, but one thing is fairly constant: much of it is “expansive”. This means heavy moisture causes soil to expand, and drought or lack of moisture causes it to contract. This uneven shifting is one of the most common causes of cracks in driveways.

Grass and vegetation in concrete crack leading to unlevel concrete


Isn’t it fun to run the trimmer down the side of your concrete driveway, and all in the joints? Homeowners know grass and weeds love running their roots underneath. But what about trees? Tree roots are typically much more destructive and can cause bulges. If you remove a tree, roots below eventually rot and may cause sinking soil under your driveway.

Concrete damage from excess use

Damage from Use

Speaking of lawn care–have you ever broken off a small piece of your driveway after hitting it with the mower? Scraped edges off with your edger? What about heavy delivery trucks hauling dirt or construction materials? Most driveways aren’t meant for giant dump trucks. Physical damage can cause problems more often than we may anticipate.

Signs You Need Driveway Repair

Early detection and quick action will prolong the life of your driveway substantially. Most of the signs of failure are quite visible and easy to spot.  These include:

  • Concrete cracks
  • Washout of soil around driveway
  • Holes (large and small)
  • Sections of concrete sinking and uneven
  • Complete separation of sections at expansion joints

How to Fix Your Driveway

If your concrete driveway is cracking, it’s time to do something. Hairline cracks may be simply addressed by patching with concrete filler, but if that’s the route you take be sure to watch for worsening / widening gaps. If this occurs, it’s time to contact Crossroads. If your driveway has moderate to large cracks or sections that are sinking or sloping noticeably, you’ll need help. Concrete raising isn’t something typical homeowners should tackle, especially since it’s affordable and cost-effective to have a professional address the issue. You have multiple options to address the problem, but be sure you understand both.

Eco-Rise Polyurethane Foam Concrete Lifting System

The most modern, cost-effective, and innovative method to fix your sinking driveway concrete involves polyurethane injections. Small holes are drilled into the concrete and polyurethane foam is injected to help lift (and hopefully level) concrete in affected areas. This pinpoint approach is not only effective, it’s affordable and long-lasting. It can be done in any weather and is waterproof, meaning it won’t break down over time. This method is highly preferred and recommended.

Slab Jacking / Mud Jacking

Indiana homeowners might recognize the repair method referred to as mudjacking or slabjacking. This more “old school” method requires larger holes and a more invasive (and typically expensive) procedure. The material used is not impermeable, and tends to be heavier sometimes than the concrete itself. Time has taught contractors this typically isn’t the best way!