Concrete Driveway Leveling – How It Works

Driveway leveling is minimally-invasive way to fix an uneven driveway without tearing up the slab and pouring new concrete. Most driveway leveling jobs can be completed in just a few hours. 

This article will discuss why driveways become unlevel, the driveway leveling process, how to prevent a concrete slab from becoming uneven, and more.

Reasons Why Driveways Become Unlevel

Driveways can become unlevel for various reasons, including the following:

  • Poor drainage under the driveway has led to the formation of voids – Soil that’s prone to erosion, along with poor drainage, can lead to voids under the driveway. If the driveway sinks into the voids, it will become uneven.
  • Expansive soil – Expansive soil is clay-rich and, because of this, expands as it absorbs moisture and shrinks as it dries out. This creates movement under the driveway and can cause it to become unlevel.
  • The soil wasn’t compacted before the driveway was poured – Before a driveway gets poured, the soil needs to be adequately tamped down. If this isn’t done, the driveway could settle into the ground and become uneven.
  • Leaves and other organic material under the driveway have decayed – Leaves and other organic material should be removed from the dirt before the driveway is poured. If they’re not, they could create voids under the slab as they decay.
  • Invasive tree roots – We’ve all seen examples of tree roots causing a concrete slab, such as a driveway, to become uneven.

Driveway Leveling Process

Driveway leveling involves injecting material under the affected area of the driveway to lift it back up. Traditionally, driveway leveling was done via a procedure called mudjacking. While mudjacking is still being used today to level uneven concrete driveways, polyurethane foam injection is the repair method of choice. 

Mudjacking vs. Polyurethane Foam Injection

Mudjacking uses a cement slurry to lift and level an uneven driveway. In contrast, polyurethane foam injection uses synthetic foam to raise the slab. 

Mudjacking is an older driveway leveling method, and because the cement slurry needs time to dry and harden, there’s going to be a certain amount of downtime after the repair before you can use the slab again.

Polyurethane foam injection is the most popular method in use today for driveway leveling. The waterproof, synthetic foam hardens almost immediately, and most jobs can be completed in just a few hours. As soon as the repair is complete, you can begin using the driveway again.

Mudjacking Procedure

  • 1.5-3 inch holes are drilled into the affected area of the driveway
  • The cement slurry is injected under the driveway through the holes, raising the slab.
  • The holes are patched with a compound that matches the driveway’s color.
  • After mudjacking, the cement slurry needs time to dry and harden. 

Polyurethane Foam Injection Procedure

  • Dime-sized holes are drilled into the affected area of the driveway
  • Two-part polyurethane foam is injected under the slab through the holes
  • The holes are patched with a compound that matches the color of the slab
  • Around 15 minutes after the repair is complete, you can begin using the driveway again.

What About If The Driveway Is Severely Cracked?

Unfortunately, driveway leveling can’t be used on a severely cracked driveway. Driveways with severe cracking will need to be dug up and replaced, which is more expensive and time-consuming.

How Much Does Driveway Leveling Cost?

The cost of driveway leveling depends on various factors, including the following:

  • The size of the affected area because this determines how much lifting foam is necessary
  • Your geographical region
  • Ease of access to the affected area

The only way to know how much driveway leveling will cost is to contact a contractor experienced in driveway leveling and ask for a quote. Driveway leveling is always less expensive than tearing up an uneven driveway and pouring new concrete.

Before And After Driveway Leveling

Can I Level My Driveway Myself?

Driveway leveling using either mudjacking or polyurethane foam injection is a job for the pros. They have the training, experience, and equipment necessary to complete the job correctly. Never add additional concrete on top of an uneven driveway to level it. You will almost certainly make the problem worse, especially if the driveway became uneven because of weak soil.

How To Prevent Your Driveway From Becoming Uneven

You can prevent your driveway from becoming uneven by doing the following:

  • Make sure the soil is adequately compacted before the driveway is poured.
  • Ensure good drainage around the driveway – Expansive soil or soil prone to erosion can cause problems when there’s excess moisture in the ground that can’t drain off.
  • Clean your gutters regularly – Clogged gutters can cause water to spill over the side of the garage or house and soak the soil around the driveway.
  • Install downspout extensions – Downspouts that are too short will release water next to the driveway. Extensions are inexpensive, easy to install, and will carry water away from the driveway before releasing it.
  • Regrade your yard, if necessary, so it slopes away from the driveway – If the yard slopes toward the driveway, water will pool around the driveway, causing problems.
  • Install a drain tile system to channel excess moisture away from your home’s foundation and driveway – For more information, see, The Importance Of Proper Foundation Drainage Around Your Home.

If you need driveway leveling and are in our service area in Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri, contact us today for an evaluation and repair estimate.

WRITTEN BY

Dave Epp

Dave is the President at Epp Foundation Repair with over 27 years of experience in the industry. Dave has worked on thousands of foundation, basement, concrete, and crawl space repair projects since 1993. Dave is involved in several civic and church organizations and enjoys coaching youth sports, mainly football, golfing, and elk hunting.

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