Just like many things in life, we learn as we go. We do things the best way we know how until we learn a better way. Concrete raising is no different. The technology available to contractors has changed dramatically over the past decade! Mudjacking was the only option available for a very long time. Its limitations prompted the development of a better solution. As a result, a special polyurethane material was developed as a repair option far superior to mudjacking. Polyurethane is replacing the old technology at a rapid pace. In fact, polyurethane is required on large highway projects where mudjacking is not even allowed as a repair option. However, not all contractors have made the investment necessary to provide polyurethane. This page will explain some of the basic reasons why you should always avoid mudjacking as a repair option.
Mudjacking Does Not Last
The process of mudjacking is raising concrete with a slurry. This “slurry” is typically made up of clay, sand, and water. Some contractors claim to add cement to their mixture, while others do not. Yet, other contractors claim to utilize a concrete slurry. This is something we discuss specifically in the next section. Regardless of the mixture used, all mudjack contractors drill large holes through your concrete and pump a wet mixture beneath the slab to “float it up”.
To our knowledge, no mudjacker is “certified” or accountable to a certifying body. Without any third-party oversight, controls, or documentation, you really have no way of knowing for sure what a mudjacker is putting beneath your concrete. It’s too hard to know who to believe when every mudjacker seems to have a “special slurry” that’s better than the next guys. As you can see, a fundamental problem with mudjacking is the lack of controls or inconsistency from contractor to contractor. To eliminate confusion, and uncertainty, we highly recommend only relying on contractors that are certified.
We raise a lot of mudjacked concrete, it makes up a large portion of the work we do. Witnessing the large, ugly holes and cracks that have formed as a result of failing mudjack material is a regular occurance for our crews. We take time to observe mudjacking failures. We inspect the holes drilled, cracks that have formed as well as the mudjacking slurry used to raise it. Although customers were sold a “concrete slurry”, mudjacking materials show obvious signs of slumping down and erosion, or nearly complete washout. We will occasionally collect samples of the mudjacking material. We use these samples to better understand its characteristics and see how it stands up to our polyurethane in controlled testing: Poly vs Mud 1, Poly vs Mud 2
In every case of mudjacking, we find material that will not stand up to moisture. As mudjacking materials soften or wash out, your concrete will not have the proper support. With areas unsupported, continued sinking stresses and strains slabs which can result in large cracks and uneven surfaces. Combined with the large, unsightly mudjacking holes, concrete in this condition prompts many people to bear the huge expense of replacement.
Mudjacking With a Concrete Slurry
Some mudjackers may try to “sell you” on a concrete slurry. They may say it’s “permanent” and claim it will not wash away. A true concrete mixture would in fact resist washout. However, based on our experience, all mudjacking slurries are subject to erosion.
A contractor’s salesman will always make a compelling case how good their concrete slurry is for concrete raising. In a desperate attempt to sway you further, they may even stoop to trying to scare you away from polyurethane. Mudjackers are notorious for pretending to have environmental concerns with poly, all the while using products made from polyurethane in their everyday lives. However, let’s not ignore the elephant in the room:
Concrete is the problem. Adding more concrete is NOT the solution. This would be similar to having your basement flood, and a contractor suggesting you add more water to it. It just doesn’t make any common sense.
FACT: Concrete would not settle as much as it does if it were not so heavy. Mudjacking (no matter the mixture) adds significant weight to an area that is prone to settlement. We raise a lot of mudjacked concrete, this alone supports the fact that heavy slurries promote future sinking. Here are the material weights that even the mudjackers can’t dispute: Mudjacking mud (or concrete slurry) will weigh at least 100 pounds per cubic foot, probably more. Our high-density polyurethane only weighs about 4 pounds per cubic foot.
In addition to the problem of excessive weight, a wet slurry will typically shrink as the water evaporates from the material. The shrinkage alone can allow raised concrete to drop. This accounts for why mudjacking companies are notorious for “over-lifting” slabs.
Mudjacking Looks Horrible
The need to raise concrete is often spurred by safety hazards. A perfect example are uneven joints causing trip hazards. Another common occurrence are sidewalks sinking at stoops that result in an excessively tall step up or down. Regardless of the issue, sinking is the problem, and raising is the solution. However, it’s really not just that simple. Aesthetics play a large roll in a customer satisfaction.
Take for example, the following scenario. You’re trying to sell your home and finally have a potential buyer. Of course, one of the first things an interested party will do is hire a home inspector to evaluate the structure. The inspection report includes a note saying the front sidewalk has dropped and is causing a tall step up to the front stoop. In fact it’s a 9-inch step which in violation of the building code limiting step riser height to a maximum of 7.75-inches. To save the sale, you decide to hire a mudjacking company to raise the sidewalk. The mudjacking company drills several 1-5/8 inch holes in the sidewalk and lifts it (temporarily) into place.
At this point, you think you’re home free – until the buyer sees what this front sidewalk looks like and backs out of the deal. Now your back to trying to sell a home with a front sidewalk full of large ugly patches. Many of our customers that have had experiences with mudjacking say they regret ever having it done.
Why Do Some Contractors Still Mudjack?
This is a great question! The short answer is that it’s simply easier and cheaper for mudjackers to stick with their existing equipment and know-how. It takes a lot of time and money for a company to get up to speed with such a drastically different technology! Mudjacking only requires simple mechanical mixing and pumping equipment. This type of equipment is relatively cheap to obtain and easy to use. Employee skills and training are equally simplified.
On the other hand, our polyurethane injection technology requires much more in terms of investment, skills and training. Our injection systems are comprised of several electro-mechanical components that must be properly operated and maintained. We only employ certified installers that possess the experience required to properly raise and support concrete. To our benefit, we believe our commitment to having the best equipment, materials and highly trained staff speaks volumes about us as a company. We are extremely competitive and will spare not expense to remain the company others strive to duplicate.
We are Chicagoland’s Original Polyurethane Concrete Raising & Stabilization Specialists!