Cracks in brand new patio, new construction

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Old 07-23-12, 09:26 PM
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Cracks in brand new patio, new construction

So we just had our patio poured a couple days ago and I noticed some cracks a day or two later. From reading some of the posts here I understand that some cracking is acceptable but its the location of these cracks that concerns me. Please look at the included pictures. I'm no expert in the area but it almost looks like the weight of the stairs is causing the stress that resulted in the cracks. Wouldn't it be better to pour the steps separately? Any help would be greatly appreciated.


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Old 07-24-12, 04:11 AM
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Welcome to the forums! I am no concrete expert, but it would seem the steps should have been a separate pour. It is obvious they have no footing, and will continue to sink until they reach equilibrium. Time to have the contractor back out and perform proper footings for the steps and repairs to the concrete slab. Hang in here, as our concrete guys will be along shortly.
 
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Old 07-24-12, 05:47 AM
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I am not sure how the steps can be hanging or supported by the slab above. There seems to be very little contact area between them unless they ran some re-bar through that area to tie them together.

I'm with Chandler though that it appears as there is no footer under the steps to support their weight. It also looks like the ground is built up at the base of the steps which makes me think it is fill and probably not compacted. As the fill dirt settles over time I expect the steps will sag and crack more.

Since there is always fill (not virgin/undisturbed) soil around the perimeter of a house, around here a lintel or ledge often built into the houses foundation wall to support the back edge of the steps. Then pre cast concrete lintels or beams are used to bridge over the softer fill dirt out to undisturbed soil. Then the steps are built on top. Sometimes the horizontal lintels are replaced by a reinforced slab/footer on which the steps are built. Basically the idea is to support the steps on something solid, not fill dirt which will settle.
 
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Old 07-24-12, 06:11 AM
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Cracks in brand new patio, new construction

Thank you for the replies. There actually are footings under the steps, I will try to go out and take a picture from the side to show more detail. The same contractor poured the front porch with even wider steps a couple of weeks earlier with no issues. I'm not sure if it matters but we did have some record breaking hot weather come through here around the time of the pour. Also the cracks did extend as when I first noticed them they did not spread all the way to the cut lines.

I have been keeping a very close eye on the whole construction process and although I am new to it I was able to catch a few guys trying to cut corners or just being sloppy. It bothers me and concerns me seeing this crack on a brand new patio. I fear it will get worst over time as it is exposed to weather (freezing). I have not said anything to the contractor about it yet as I wanted to get a couple of opinions from the knowledgable members here. Again thank you in advance.
 
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Old 07-24-12, 09:43 AM
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IMO placing the control joint cut right down the middle of the pad at the top of the stairs was a mistake. It created a weak point where those triangles would then fracture. If the control joint would have been on either side of the stairs that might not have happened.
 
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Old 07-24-12, 03:45 PM
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I know rebar was used to reinforce the patio. Is there anything he could have done beside cutting the control joint in different locations as XSleeper suggested?

Here is a side shot showing the footing.

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Old 07-24-12, 04:22 PM
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The control joint is also WAY too deep. Should have been 1" deep, IMO. 1.25" max. How close was the rebar in the pad placed in relation to the front edge of the patio? There should probably be one running the length of the pad within 3-4" of that entire edge. Even if the front edge is reinforced, it might have still have cracked that way. The steps really should have been completely separate. If the form for the steps was not filled and compacted, that would be a lot of concrete settling in the middle, causing a potential difference in the cure time, which can lead to cracks.
 
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Old 07-24-12, 06:19 PM
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This doesn't really add anything helpful to the thread, but it looks like the guy who did your steps is the same guy who completely butched mine. You'll find the thread somewhere in this forum and I included photos, if you're interested.
 
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Old 07-25-12, 12:02 PM
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The control joint's location is definitely the cause of the cracking on either side of the steps, as mentioned by others. And the reason being that the sawn joint ends at, and ties into, a solid mass of concrete, instead of at locations which would allow free movement of the separated slabs of the patio (i.e., on either edge of the steps). Controlled slab movement could also have been achieved by a completely separate placement of the steps, or by installing a good bond-breaker between the underside of the patio concrete and the top of the top step concrete, where it tucks under the patio overhang.

Good luck in trying to get the contractor to make it right, that being complete removal and replacement with properly-located control joints. It's his screw-up that caused it (possibly in conjunction with the hot weather during the pour). You can bolster your argument for wanting a new slab by reminding the contractor how you had to perform his quality control obligation, catching his guys taking short cuts and doing sloppy work.
 
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Old 07-25-12, 02:05 PM
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Thank you for the info. I'm setting up a meeting with the contractor, will keep you posted.
 
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Old 07-25-12, 02:50 PM
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You might suggest an alternative to complete removal of the entire patio concrete--making patio edge vertical sawcuts on each end of the the steps (just far enough away to "contain" all of the cracks and enable clearance for the saw from the steps), then sawing back into the patio with 2 oppositely-oriented, at approximately 45-degree cuts, making them join at the existing patio control joint approximately 5' or 6' back from the top of the steps. All of the delineated concrete could then be removed and replaced. Sawcuts need to be deep enough (similar to the depth of cut already there) to avoid removal damage to the remaining patio, along with no "monster" chipping hammers allowed. An angled sawcut as close as possible to horizontal also will be required at the patio-top step interface, to separate the two.

Such a retrofit would actually look quite good with the resulting symmetrical triangle of concrete, and would perform properly, duplicating what the cracks are showing the patio concrete wants to do anyway. Request that the remaining sharp, sawcut edges be given a nice, rounded radius with a grinder, prior to concrete placement, to match the edge radius troweled into the new concrete. If it were mine, I would tint the new concrete triangle a light brown, to provide an aesthetic accent that complements the house's brick color.

A lot less work and less concrete than replacing the entire patio.
 
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Old 07-25-12, 10:25 PM
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Picture of new cracks

BridgeMan45, thank you very much for your suggestion I do like it and it would definitely be an acceptable fix but I found 2 new small cracks further out from the steps as shown in the new picture. Right now both are very small and only extend to the top of the patio as indicated by the red lines.

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Old 08-06-12, 12:44 PM
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So I finally had a meeting with the builder and after presenting my case he asked what I would like to see happen and I said I'd like to get the cracks cut out like BridgeMan45 suggested. To my surprise he agreed without putting up a fight. Thank you again. I'll try to post pics once its fixed.
 
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Old 08-06-12, 12:54 PM
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There are those who will bad mouth contractors but my opinion is most are not only concerned with their reputation but with genuinely meeting their customers concerns and expectations and yours seems like one of those.
 
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Old 08-06-12, 01:07 PM
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Good contractors are like Mitchs statement. Bad contractors try to say "That's normal" or "It always looks like this".

The best thing to protect yourself is knowledge.

That's one reason I like this place so much. You have such a wide range of experience...it's pretty hard to not learn something.
 
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Old 08-06-12, 02:14 PM
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I think you presented the contractor with a reasonable solution. Had you wanted the slab ripped out and done over you might have had gotten a different answer.
 
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