Don't Let Frost Heave Ruin Your Pavement

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It's been a cold winter here in Nebraska, and along with the cold and snow come some unique problems for homeowners. One such problem is frost heave, which occurs when moisture collects underneath concrete,  freezes and expands. The result is that it lifts the concrete and damages your driveway and garage. 

Causes of frost heave:
While frost heave can be very typical with the Nebraska winters, there are a few steps you can take to help prevent it.
  • Do not wash the garage out in colder months
  • Make sure downspout extenders are secured properly and diverting water away from concrete
  • Clear snow right away
  • Make sure gutters are free of debris and working properly
  • MOST IMPORTANT- Caulking and sealing of the driveway prior to winter to help prevent water from going into gaps or voids (Typically when we receive calls that a driveway has frost heave, the driveway has not been caulked or sealed)
One way to prevent frost heave in the winter is by caulking your control joints early on in the spring or summer. This will help prevent excess moisture from getting inside the concrete slabs and freezing. Concrete is naturally porous, so it will absorb a certain amount of moisture, but caulking will help prevent quite a bit of movement.

What to expect with frost heave:
Typically when a concrete slab heaves due to frost it is not that anything was done incorrectly but
rather moisture made it's way into the ground causing the ground to freeze. Frost heave is more of a weather-related problem and cannot always be 100% prevented despite any measures taken ahead of time.
  • Most heaves occur between the garage and the driveway
  • Homes facing North and East are more susceptible to this due to a lack of sunlight and colder temperatures
  • Slabs can move anywhere from 1/4" to 4" in rare occasions (typically 1/2" to 1")
  • When weather warms, frost will come out of the ground and slabs typically return to their original placement
  • On occasion, slabs can be held up by stone and concrete, not allowing sections of the slab to move, which causes cracks in the concrete panels
  • Cracks less than 1/4" can be caulked using Vulkem concrete caulk

Be careful to inspect your concrete before and after winter to make sure that you've taken the necessary steps to protect your driveway and other paved areas.

If you have any questions about this or if you would like to contact us in regards to a property in Omaha, please feel free to do so via phone or email. We can always arrange a time to meet with you.