Thursday, February 4th, 2021 by Aaron Ruskamp
Mother nature attacks our homes from all angles. Weather its hail storms, lightning strikes, flood events, or even the seasonal temperature changes; all these events can cause damage to our homes. One of the most misunderstood forces from of mother nature that impact our homes is the freeze and thaw cycle and seasonal temperature changes.
The freeze and thaw cycle refers to the repeated temperature shift in our climate from freezing temperatures to above freezing temperatures. These critical shifts in temperature have an impact on many building materials as well as soil conditions. One of the building materials that is impacted by temperature changes is concrete.
It is a little-known fact, but concrete is not only impacted by freeze-thaw cycles, but is also impacted by seasonal temperature changes. Concrete slabs actually shrink as temperatures drop and expand as temperatures warm up. This means that the concrete under our feet and under our vehicles is constantly shifting in size and volume. Our driveways and the very roads we drive on are shrinking in the colder months and expanding in the warmer months. It is for this reason that the building code requires contraction and expansion joints to be installed in concrete slabs. If properly installed and maintained, these joints create space for the slabs of concrete to move and expand into. However, if the contraction and expansion joints are not properly installed and maintained it can lead to a phenomenon knows as Streep Creep.
Streep Creep, also known as street elongation, refers to the lengthening of a roadway or paved concrete surface over time. The concrete roadway grows as a result of debris filling expansion joints in the winter months while the concrete has shrunk. When the concrete expands in the warmer months it has no open space to expand into and instead grows the length of the overall roadway. Streep Creep is a very slow but consistent process. It is estimated that a typical roadway will grow a fraction of an inch per 1 city block length of road every year. While the movement is very slow and small, the compounding effect of miles of roads over years of time, can have a dramatic impact. It can cause road ways to buckle under the extreme pressure and can even impact building structures in the path of the street elongation. If the street creep or elongations is pushing against your driveway, it can cause major damage to your driveway, garage, and home.
When a home is constructed, the concrete contractor will install at least 2 separate 1/2 " wide expansion joints in the driveway. These expansion joints were installed to create a space for street creep forces to be absorbed by the driveway rather than being transferred to the home. Unfortunately, not all expansion joints are installed properly. Even if installed properly, the expansion joints can be compressed beyond there serviceable range. When this happens the forces from street creep are then transferred from the road, to the driveway, to the wing walls of the garage door, to the garage floor, and ultimately to the back foundation wall of the garage. As the forces of street creep push against the home, the driveway begins to crack and become damaged. Once street creep meets the front of the garage it will break the wing walls as it continues to push backwards into the garage. Street creep will then begin pushing on the garage floor and against the back foundation wall. Once this happens the foundation wall will begin to fail and lean in the opposite direction of the garage floor. As you can see the simple effect of seasonal changes in temperature can have a dramatic impact on your home if you are not properly protected.
To properly protect a home from street creep forces, expansion joints must be properly installed and maintained. This means that you must ensure the expansion joint goes the entire depth of the concrete and doesn't just appear to be operational. You must also keep it free of dirt and debris, to ensure you have the full range of motion when the concrete needs to expand back into the expansion joint space. Unfortunately, all to many expansion joints are improperly installed and poorly maintained. When this happens, a new expansion joint must be installed and Thrasher's unique CompressionGuard is the right product for the job.
When Thrasher installs CompressionGuard, a 3-inch-wide expansion joint is created. The concrete in the joint is cut and completely removed. The CompressionGuard is then pressure fit into the opening and left flush with the surface of the concrete. The finished product looks aesthetically pleasing, is maintenance free, and creates a wide range of motion for your concrete to move in through the seasonal changes.
It is clear to see that CompressionGuard is the right solution to isolate your home from damaging street creep forces, and Thrasher has the experience needed to install the product the right way.