Understanding Concrete Sidewalks: Knowing When They Require Repair or Replacement

Recognized as a durable construction material, concrete can resist deterioration over a long period. When concrete starts deteriorating, it is due to harsh weather elements and other conditions like fluctuating temperature, movement of the ground, and continuous, stressful weight.

As a result, they crack, and the cracks become hazardous. So, how do you know if your concrete sidewalk can be easily fixed? And how do you know when it cannot? Concrete sidewalks are a mystery to most Sterling Heights, MI homeowners who possess one. However, it is not a scary menace. It’s just that most homeowners do not know when, how, or why to fix or replace concrete sidewalks. This article will share the information that has been lacking.

But, first a couple of things Sterling Heights, MI homeowners must know about concrete sidewalks basics.

Sidewalks are usually classified into two types –private and pedestrian sidewalks. Pedestrian sidewalks are also referred to as “shared user sidewalks”. It is characterized by city easements. In this case, it is usually you – the homeowner – who is charged with the responsibility for taking care of this type of sidewalk. But it usually is up to your city’s ordinance as to whether it needs to be repaired or needs to be replaced.

A private sidewalk leads from either the pedestrian sidewalk or your driveway to your front door. This walkway is not managed by the city. In this case, it is a good idea to rely on the city’s policies and standards when it comes to determining if or when the sidewalk needs replacement. It often happens that the sidewalk needs to be patched or resurfaced with high-quality concrete.

The types and severity of damage that the sidewalk encounters determine if it requires repair or replacement.

Cracks – Narrow cracks at various places are not too much of a problem. These are easy to tend to and can be repaired effectively. There is no need to pull out a whole slab in case of narrow cracks. However, do not confuse narrow cracks with hairline cracks that run across bigger areas of the sidewalk.

If you want to visualize a hairline crack, think of a spider web. These can signify that the original mix of concrete has been faulty. So, if your sidewalk cracking appears similar to this, it is time to start considering replacing the sidewalk – if not entirely, at least, most of it. Stay on top of the cracks and observe if they become larger or more rampant.

Exposure with time – Although it is known for its durability, even an old sidewalk gives up at some point after years of exposure to weather elements and excessive weight. It is typical to find sections of an old sidewalk shifting and cracking. The cracks are hazardous. As the height of the sidewalk’s surface starts to fluctuate, the risk of tripping and falling increases.

If you notice a fluctuation in height between one of your sidewalk’s sections and another that exceeds a half-inch, it is time to replace the sidewalk.

Concluding Thoughts

Repairing a sidewalk is a good option in case of:

  • Typical wear and tear
  • Small cracks or chips
  • Damage less than two inches

Replacing a sidewalk is appropriate for:

  • Fully-broken slabs
  • Deep cracks that affect a sidewalk’s sub base



Give Flat Rock Concrete Construction, Inc. a call today!  Our office numbers are (248) 379-0250 or (586) 726-6091!

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