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Blog » 6 Common Signs of Concrete Sidewalk Breakdown (And What to Do About It)

6 Common Signs of Concrete Sidewalk Breakdown (And What to Do About It)

Your home is a considerable investment and likely where you spend most of your time. We’ve previously written about concrete stoop styles to suit your existing driveway. Today we will take a look at your concrete sidewalk, another focal point of your home and yard. 

Unfortunately, a crumbling concrete sidewalk can not only be a bummer, but it can also damage the curb appeal and hurt the resale value of your home. While it’s true that concrete is one of the most durable construction materials and can last for decades, it does require some maintenance and eventual replacement. 

As the lifespan on your sidewalk can vary, you could be asking yourself whether or not it’s time to replace it. We’ll walk through what common signs of sidewalk breakdown look for here and what you can do about it. 

What Are the Signs of Concrete Breakdown?


Have you seen any cracks growing along your sidewalk? This is a common problem that can develop in concrete over the years. Minnesota winter temperatures, de-icing salt, gas, oil, and other chemicals can permeate the concrete and exacerbate existing cracks. During the cold winter months, water can enter the trials, freeze and expand once frozen. 

Small or narrow cracks are not usually a problem. They can be repaired with a concrete resurfacer. However, wide or long cracks or cracks that have crumbling edges are difficult to fix on your own, and you should consider replacing those portions of the sidewalk so that the damage doesn’t spread. 

Potholes and Pitting 

Cracks are often a cosmetic issue, but potholes in your sidewalk can be dangerous. They are a tripping hazard if someone is unaware. Large holes grow when the ground beneath the sidewalk expands and contracts over time. During that time, the material on the top of the sidewalk becomes weaker. Then the concrete starts to crack or crumble to form a hole. 

Just as with cracks, minor potholes on the surface of your sidewalk can be repaired. However, even a repaired pothole does not fix the ground contracting and expanding problem, which is a cycle that we know well in Minnesota. For that reason, the hole will likely appear again. Replacing your sidewalk can be a great option if your current sidewalk is made with older materials. Newer concrete is created to endure these conditions better than materials that were used in previous decades.

Drainage Issues and Sunken Concrete 

If your sidewalk is in good condition, water from rain, snow, or your sprinkler system won’t affect it much. An uneven sidewalk can lead to water pooling in the middle or in one or more areas. This can weaken your sidewalk because it weakens the sidewalk where the water tends to gather. 

There are possible repairs for sidewalk drainage problems. For example, products can be injected below the surface of the sidewalk. However, if your sidewalk is old and you are experiencing significant pooling issues, you should consider replacing the concrete. 

Coarse and Discolored Appearance 

The sun’s rays can be tough on your sidewalk, causing fading or discoloration. The sun penetrates the concrete, oxidizing it, and causes the color to fade gradually.

If your driveway is looking timeworn and bleached from the elements, it might be time to consider a replacement. It is indeed an aesthetic issue, but UV exposure wears down a sidewalk over time. For a quick fix, you can try coating it with a concrete sealant, which will give it a newly made-over appearance. However, that will not address any durability or structural issues. 

Forgetting Sealant 

If you have a concrete sidewalk, it’s important to use concrete sealant every two to three years. This will help prevent breaks and cracks from forming, especially around the edges. If you forgot to keep up (or perhaps the previous owners did), the cracks in your sidewalk might be too deep to be mended with a sealant now. A complete replacement could be necessary instead. 

Sidewalk Past Its Prime

Over your years of homeownership, it’s bound to happen. Or maybe you bought an older home with a problematic sidewalk. Whatever the case may be, if your sidewalk is on the older side, you could be dealing with a combination of the issues above. After years of wear, damage and fading are an inevitable part of life. At this point, do-it-yourself fixes are also less likely to work.  

A sidewalk replacement can be your solution. That way, you won’t waste your valuable time repairing a sidewalk that is only at the end of its life.  

Your Concrete Paving Company 

It’s true that concrete can have a higher upfront cost, but it can last for decades when properly maintained. It will also add beauty to the front of your home. Richfield Concrete is your partner in concrete sidewalks. We are not just driveway pavers. We are your complete concrete company. Contact us to get started today.

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