Frost heave problem with side walk

Old 03-24-07, 08:55 AM
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Question Frost heave problem with side walk

I have a problem I was hoping to get a professional opinion on, if the contractor is at fault and should repair.

3 1/2 years ago I had a sidewalk put in and a small 17' x 8' patio put in with stamped concrete. The guy did a great job, it looked fantastic.

The next year on the patio we did get some cracks, the contractor came back and and cut a stress cut down the middle and everything is fine now. Although I think he should of put the cut there in the first place, I'm ok with that.

My problem is this, I live in Connecticut and we had a cold and snowy March.
We had a frost heave problem which raised part of the sidewalk and crack part of it.

Let me explain. From our front door we had three steps going down to the ground. Because of grading the contractor suggested that we use the bottom step as the high point of the side walk. When finished you never knew that there were three steps originally, now there are two steps.

He cut a stress release cut between the third step(which is part of sidewalk now) and the rest of the side walk. He also put stress cuts throughout the rest of the sidewalk.

After this last snow storm, part of the sidewalk raised about an inch above the third step (which again is part of the sidewalk) There are now cracks as well between the two pieces.

Prior to the installtaion we put in pvc pipes from our gutters diverting gutter water away from the area into the woods.

My question is, it has been 3 1/2 years since this was done, we spent $3700.00 for the side walk and patio. Should the contractor fix or replace the sidewalk at his cost. What are my options. Thanks!
Old 03-24-07, 09:14 AM
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Frost heave problem with side walk

Frost heaves are the result of the weather and moisture content in the soil deeply delow the concrete.

Your steps were either deep enough below the frost level or weighed enough to prevent heaving. You sidewalk heaved because of the moisture under them and that the frost obviously was well below the ground level there.

The different heaving potential must have been recognized, since saw cuts were made. Sidewalks always heave, but normally no one ever notices becuase they are relatively isolated from anything fixed.

It appears he had done something to recognize the potential problem. The actual heaving was greater than expected and could not be predicted to any degree of accuracy. This is difficult without you providing soil information and being able to determine the actual amount of moisture and what effects the snow and exposure would have.

If he charged you for replacing the soil below the sidewalk level, he should be responsible for some correction. If he laid it on the existing soil under your old sidewalk he would not be responsible. You probably hired him to pour concrete and not to design and build something that would not heave.


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