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Old 04-15-2011, 08:49 AM   #1
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concrete cracks


My wife and I built a detached garage last fall. The garage is fine, and the interior garage floor is fine, but the exterior concrete driveway already has cracks in the 4 slabs.

The concrete was poured at the end of Oct 2010, and the cracks started appearing Jan 2011. We contacted the builder in Feb-11, March-11, and now April 2011 about a remedy. They haven't been responsive.

We think it should be pulled up, redone, (strengthened, expansion cracks put in, etc.), at their expense.

Is it unreasonable to think that the concrete should be crack free after only a few months?

I think they rushed the job and didnt have a proper water-concrete mix, the base wasnt tamped enough, or poured it when it was too cold out (we had frost during that time period.)

Anyone else here care to express their thoughts on this situation? Id be curious to hear what the concrete, builders, subcontractors think about this. Are we unreasonable? Should we just learn to live with cracks? Overtime I know theyre only going to get worse with the thaw and freeze weather found here.

Thanks!

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Old 04-15-2011, 09:37 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Wiscbldr View Post
My wife and I built a detached garage last fall. The garage is fine, and the interior garage floor is fine, but the exterior concrete driveway already has cracks in the 4 slabs.

The concrete was poured at the end of Oct 2010, and the cracks started appearing Jan 2011. We contacted the builder in Feb-11, March-11, and now April 2011 about a remedy. They haven't been responsive.

We think it should be pulled up, redone, (strengthened, expansion cracks put in, etc.), at their expense.

Is it unreasonable to think that the concrete should be crack free after only a few months?

I think they rushed the job and didnt have a proper water-concrete mix, the base wasnt tamped enough, or poured it when it was too cold out (we had frost during that time period.)

Anyone else here care to express their thoughts on this situation? Id be curious to hear what the concrete, builders, subcontractors think about this. Are we unreasonable? Should we just learn to live with cracks? Overtime I know theyre only going to get worse with the thaw and freeze weather found here.

Thanks!
Was the concrete kept wet for a period time after they poured it?

Unfortunately I don't think they will replace the concrete, you are probably better off to tell them (if they actually respond to your calls) to use a sealant like Sikaflex Concrete Fix, I've used it on my concrete walk with excellent results. I've even seen construction sites using this same brand to seal the separation lines after the masonry saw did it's job. I found it at the local orange big box store.

Here's a little about it...

Use

  • Designed for all types of joints and cracks where maximum depth of sealant will not exceed in.
  • Suitable for vertical and horizontal joints; readily placeable at 40F (4C).
  • Has many applications as an elastic sealant between materials with dissimilar coefficients of expansion.
Ideal for:
  • Weatherproofing of joints,cracks and gaps in concrete, brickwork, blockwork, masonry, stucco and metal frames.
  • Joints in walls, floors, balconies, around window or door frames.
  • Expansion joints.
  • Roofing.

Characteristics and Advantages

  • High elasticity cures to a tough, durable, flexible consistency with exceptional cut and tear-resistance.
  • Stress relaxation.
  • Excellent adhesion bonds to most construction materials without a primer.
  • Excellent resistance to aging, weathering.
  • Non-staining.
  • Urethane-based; suggested by EPA for radon reduction.
  • Paintable with water-, oil- and rubber-based paints.
  • Capable of 25% joint movement.

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Old 04-15-2011, 01:14 PM   #3
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concrete cracks


I think you need to post some pictures (directions are at top of page). Hard to say what you have when it can't be seen. Did they put any expansion joints/saw cuts in it?
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Old 04-16-2011, 07:24 AM   #4
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concrete cracks


Pictures would certainly help access the situation and give comment.

My experience would leave me to believe poor, wet subsoil & base are the culprit from what you've stated. A wet base will be more likely to heave and expand in winter when it freezes, causes excessive stress on the driveway.
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Old 04-16-2011, 08:58 AM   #5
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there are basically two types of concrete that you could have. one is concrete that has already cracked and the other is concrete that is gonna crack. if the slab is poured to the correct thickness with the correct reinforcements specified and control joints are spaced properly then there is not much that you can go after the contractor for. unfortunately that is the nature of concrete. there are some fillers that could be used if the concrete is done moving (cracking) that will work. if it is not done moving, then there is not much that can be done that will hold up over time. it takes tremendous force to make concrete move and crack and it would take some amazing product to hold it together. ive used everything from epoxy fillers, caulks and titanium stitches. the flexible product seem to give the best results vs harder products like epoxy.
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Old 04-16-2011, 10:18 AM   #6
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Quote:
The concrete was poured at the end of Oct
Why did you have it done that time of year?

Quote:
driveway already has cracks in the 4 slabs.
What (if anything) is between each of the "4 slabs"? Are they cut control joints or are they expansion joints with expansion material placed between the casts?

Quote:
I think they...(snip)...didnt have a proper water-concrete mix
Now how would YOU know that?

Quote:
I think they rushed the job
How was the job rushed?

Quote:
the base wasnt tamped enough
And how do you know that?

Quote:
poured it when it was too cold
Were any additives used to counteract the cold?

Did you get bids to do the work from several contractors? Was this the low bid?

This happens all the time. If the contractor is ignoring your attempts to contact him then maybe: 1. He screwed you and knows it and doesn't intend to stand behind his work. 2. He has experience working with you in the past. 3. -Well I don't have a "three" at this point.

It appears you now think you must have some knowledge of this type of work so I have to ask: Why after all of this "Monday Morning Quarterbacking", why wasn't all of this discussed with the contractor BEFORE he did the work back on those frosty days in October?

I just don't think you have a snowball's chance of getting him to re-do your driveway for free and this time do it better than he did it the first time.
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Old 04-18-2011, 08:04 AM   #7
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Thanks for the responses...

To answer some questions:

-The concrete was poured at the end of October because the contractor started the job 2 weeks later. Originally they were supposed to be done 2 weeks earlier, but they started late, and the job ended late. We had to keep prompting them to finish the work as they were dragging their feet on some work, including the electrical.

-There are four main slabs. There are expansion joints between the four running from the garage to the turnaround. But, there are no expansion cracks running horizontally, which I think based on the distance there should have been. At least as the concrete contracted and expanded it would have broken on a straight line.

-I wouldnt know if their mix was proper, but Ive read enough on the subject, and have talked with contractors before enough to know that usually there are certain things that contribute to the quick cracking.

-I think the job was rushed as it was the last thing they were working on, and they had to call back the concrete people after they did the two central slabs, they came back and added the two wings slabs after the fact. The also never came back to inspect their work after it was done. They asked us to remove the plastic tarps the next day after poured. (They had plastic put on because they knew there would be frost that night, and wanted the sun to help warm it the next day). But nobody ever came back to inspect any of the final pours. We removed the tarps, we did the final cleaning of the garage and of the external site, and I think there was indeed frost that night. (I know the concrete was wet the next morning.)

-we never saw them tamp the site prior to pouring, and we never saw them add any rebar or other strengthening materials as we took pictures throughout the process.

-I have no idea if any additives were added because of the cold. But based on the huge oil stains they left on our other driveway, I dont think they were the too concerned near the end of the project. I think they just wanted to get it done.

-We contracted the builder to build the garage based on working with them before. Their work is generally good, but, we hadnt worked with their subs before, and we think the concrete people were the weak link in the project based on some comments the other subs made about the concrete people on site.

-And yes, we discussed this before the work began. Had they started two-three weeks earlier as originally contracted, they would have had a better, warmer, dryer period for concrete work at the end. But because they were running late, everything got bumped back.

There were other problems we noticed during the building process. The most notables included the poor site cleanup (which we had to ask them to do something about), the delay in start, the delay in getting the electricians out at the end, the oil stains in the driveway left behind from the concrete people, and ..gasp.. the fact that we found out that they were using our back woods to go the bathroom as we found their used toilet paper in the thicket..(gross).

Although they have agreed to come out and discuss it, (possibly this week), its taken our prodding the past 3 months to get them to agreet to come out. Granted, that remains to be seen as we've yet to see them back on site since last fall.

Dont get me wrong, the garage itself is very nice, but, the driveway cracks are something that we wouldnt have expected after only a couple of months. A few years, maybe.. but 3-4 months.. hmmm...

If I get a chance, Ill upload some pics of the site, driveway, slabs, cracks, etc...
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Old 04-18-2011, 08:16 AM   #8
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concrete cracks


The responsibility of the concrete contractor is to build according to the approved plans. Specifically, if the plans called for control joints, they would have been responsible to install them. Similarly, they would be responsible for finishing the concrete in accordance with plans, adhering to the agreed upon mix, providing the specified base, compacting the base etc. I suggest you review your plans and specifications, and see if the contractor deviated from them. Unless your plans called for zero crack concrete and the contractor agreed to provide such, the fact that there are cracks is not automatically the contractor's problem.
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Old 04-18-2011, 01:37 PM   #9
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concrete cracks


Getting cracks so soon after the project was completed seems unreasonable.

We paid a contractor A LOT of money to add a bathroom to the house. They managed to kill off a large piece of the lawn, but all in all, they cleaned up very nicely after themselves and as WRITTEN IN THE CONTRACT, we let them use our electrical outlets AND BATHROOMS. It was actually in the contract because in past contracts this guy has done, he said the homeowners expected them to bring generators and to rent a porta-potty.

Again this guy was pricey, but they were done slightly ahead of schedule (there was no hard schedule, but they were done faster than they expected) and they cleaned up after themselves fairly well. The didn't take a dump in our backyard either.

Regardless of price though, I would expect that cleanup and not taking craps in the backyard would be normal procedure. It would be at least the mark of a real professional who had some pride.

Good luck!

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Old 04-18-2011, 02:18 PM   #10
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daniel, don't see many 'approved plans' for driveways down here nor, as i recall, did we in ny/ma/ct/nj/pa,,, all of the previous poster's reasons MAY be responsible for random cracking ( unless rebar OR mesh was suggested ) however i'd bet its mostly a result of an improper jointing pattern,,, expansion jnt mtl is normally ONLY used for buffering new conc against structures,,, IF there was a 2nd 'pour', that would be a 'construction jnt' whereas 'control' & 'contraction' jnts are the same,,, its also possible static OR dynamic early loading is the culprit,,, aci sez a good rule of thumb for slab size is no more than 20x thickness in inches expressed as feet (4" x 20 = 80 OR 8' )

usually contractors will only guarantee no one will steal your conc we guarantee no random cracking from improper jointing BUT should any dummy drive a sherman tank or other heavy load on it, those will be the h/o's cracks,,, fibers would also have been wasted $$$ IM-N-S-H-FO
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.

Last edited by stadry; 04-19-2011 at 04:48 AM.
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Old 04-18-2011, 08:34 PM   #11
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You'd be hard pressed to find any specific approved plans for residential flatwork here for sure. The best you maybe able to do is use the often stated verbage "to be completed in a substantial workmanlike manner" against the contractor, but obviously this kind of rhetoric is extremely generic. IMPO, you shouldn't be asked to just accept the cracks, nor should you have a difficult time getting a hold of either contractor. Unfortunately, this is somewhat common place in the trades these days..............
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Old 04-19-2011, 05:04 AM   #12
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absent any absolute specifications for the work, its now your driveway - most driveways are 4" & don't/shouldn't have any reinforcement at that thickness ( according to aci ),,, it doesn't take tremendous force to make conc ' move ' - just measure the joint width at 0600 & compare it w/width at 1500,,, you'll find its much smaller in the afternoon's sun,,, that movement causes conc hi-ways to buckle up into the air,,, conc never stop moving but random cracking is a response to the forces of tension that work against its integrity,,, stitching slabs-on-grade is an extremely rare spec - maybe for airport apron pvmts,,, longitudinal tie bars are another instance but this is all o'kill for a residential d/w,,, all you can do now is saw & seal the cracks ( NEVER use caulks as previously posted - ONLY sealants properly installed in a properly dimensioned sealant reservoir ),,, suggest you find someone to diamond saw the existing control joints to 75% deep - IF there isn't a good jnt pattern, make 1

jomama runs into weather problems the same as we do - we occasionally place @ 20f but that's easier than 95f,,, curing in lo-temps may be a pita but in 90f nites, its hell don't even think about joint sawing - hot days, cool nites, then rain

nace certification's fine for coatings but i recall nothing in that program applicable to conc OR slabs-on-grade

Last edited by stadry; 04-19-2011 at 05:06 AM.
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Old 04-19-2011, 08:26 AM   #13
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The builder and his concrete sub has agreed to meet us on site and examine the cracks. Beyond that, its hard to know what they will suggest or agree to do. All I know is, I have a hard time believing that the builder or the concrete guy wants their reputation based on the multiple cracks in the multiple slabs that occurred within a couple months of completion of the project. A single crack after a few years, maybe... but we counted 3 cracks in one slab, two cracks in another and another single long crack across the other two. Thats four slabs, 7 cracks. We dont expect perfection, but we do expect a bit better wear. (And no we dont drive tanks across the driveway, just the occasional car and mostly just lawn tractors or foot traffic.)
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Old 04-19-2011, 09:44 AM   #14
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Obviously opinions are extremely subjective, but I don't think you're asking too much here at all. It sounds like a small area, and 7 random cracks would be more than enough to make me tear it out as the contractor. Actually, I've replaced far better slabs (at least from the sounds of it) just to deter the bad advertising that you elude to.

If your so inclined, where are you located?
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Old 04-19-2011, 02:31 PM   #15
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20 years concrete, stamped comcrete and overlays before the nace certification for coatings, but can admmit that i dont know it all in both fields. believe it or not, Elmers glue works great in hairline cracks before microtoppings and stamp overlays. doesn't flash though the finish and kept most cracks form resurfacing in the new coating.

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