Your sidewalk is something you use every day but it is very likely do not give much thought at all. Perhaps you jog on it, you walk the dog on it, and the kids play on it, but you will not notice it is there at all until something goes wrong with it.
Like anything else, sidewalks will deteriorate over time, and they need regular maintenance to make sure they stay in good shape.
If you notice that your sidewalk has started to crumble or that things are not looking as they used to with the concrete, it is time to do some work. But the kind of work you need to do will vary based on the situation at hand.
Assessing The Damage Of The Sidewalk
The average lifespan of an asphalt sidewalk is 20 years, whereas concrete can last a little longer with an average life of 25 to 30 years. While you may not be hitting these milestones just yet, signs of damage could already be appearing on your sidewalk, which needs to be addressed.
There are various causes of sidewalk damage, including weather conditions, heavy traffic or ground movement, as well as general wear and tear. It can be dangerous to leave things to chance when your sidewalk becomes damaged, so you need to get it repaired as soon as possible.
The following are some common signs that it is time to either repair or replace your sidewalk:
- Cracks: These will appear over time in asphalt and concrete sidewalks. When left unattended, they can grow due to substances like water, ice, or automotive grease getting inside of them
- Uneven or Lifted Slabs: Roots from nearby trees can cause slabs of the sidewalk to be lifted or displaced. In this circumstance, the damage will need to be repaired as soon as possible as lifted slabs can be dangerous to those using the sidewalk. If this is what you are dealing with, you need to have a plan in place regarding the tree and decide whether you are going to remove it or move and extend your sidewalk to prevent the issue from happening again
- Pooling Water: While water alone will not cause damage to the sidewalk, those with prior damage can have water pool in the cracks, which will make things worse over time
Repairing Vs. Replacing The Sidewalk
Assessing the damage on the sidewalk is the best place to start because what you find can be used to determine your next actions.
Even if you are not a concrete expert, you should be able to determine whether the damage to your sidewalk is major or minor and, therefore, what the best next steps should be.
Repairing the sidewalk is the right solution for:
- Normal wear and tear
- Small chips or cracks
- Damage to less than two inches of the concrete
Replacing the sidewalk is the right solution for:
- Fully broken slabs
- Deep cracks which may impact the subbase of the sidewalk
Who Is Responsible For Sidewalk Replacement?
In most cases, the homeowner is responsible for the sidewalk that runs adjacent to their property, so if you see the damage here, then it will be up to you to fix it.
However, you cannot just get straight into working on your sidewalk as most cities require a permit and inspections to take place on the sidewalk before any changes can be made.
To see what the rules are in your location, make sure to check with your city’s Public Works department or your homeowners’ association and obtain a permit if required.
How To DIY A Sidewalk Repair
If your sidewalk has small cracks, holes, or hairline breaks, you can repair them yourself by following these simple steps. Make sure to obtain permission from the necessary authorities before doing any work on the sidewalk.
What You Need
- Wire or Fiber Brush
- Paint Brush
- Putty Knife
- Patching Mix
- Bonding Agent
- Safety Glasses and Gloves
- Cut out the damaged areas
Using a chisel, put it in the crack and angle it slightly outwards. A sledgehammer will be needed to tap the chisel so the crack will become bigger on the bottom.
- Clean out the debris
Any remaining concrete will weaken your patch, so make sure this is removed before filling in the cracks or holes. Use a wire or stiff-bristled brush to do this, then use a damp sponge to moisten the concrete that is left.
When moist, it will bond better to the new patch.
- Fill with patching mix
Once your patching mix is ready, smooth it into the crack in the sidewalk using a trowel.
- Apply bonding agent
Using a paintbrush, apply a bonding agent over the crack and wait for 10 to 15 minutes for it to get tacky.
With your trowel or putty knife, pack the anchoring cement into the crack. The crack will need to be kept moist until it is fully cured, so cover it with a sheet of plastic as it sets.
How Much Does It Cost To Repair Sidewalks?
The cost to repair sidewalks can vary based on the damage and, therefore, what needs to be done with the concrete.
With this in mind, it can cost between $5 and $100 to repair broken sidewalks depending on what you have available, the damage you are working with, and whether you can DIY it.
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