8 Facts about Cracks in Sidewalk

What is a Sidewalk? Which Material is considered best for the Sidewalk? What are the reasons behind Cracks in Sidewalks? How to Fix a Crack in the Sidewalk?

The construction of roads, buildings, and every other place are based on some principles to avoid accidents. Builders and engineers know what is best and which material to use for construction. But talking about the sidewalk, you have noticed those cracks in sidewalk. Are they intentional or accidental? So today, you will learn about sidewalk crack filler and sidewalk crack repair methods.

1. Definition of Sidewalk

A space provided on either side of the road is a sidewalk. It is also known as a pathway, footpath, or footway. The sidewalk is for walking, running, riding a bicycle, or walking our pets. It is prohibited for any other vehicle to come over a sidewalk. A sidewalk is usually 5 feet wide and not less than to meet the requirements of every individual, including people with disabilities. (See What Is a Pothole?)

2. Invention of Sidewalks

According to archeologists and historians, sidewalks have been a part of the construction and roads for 4000 years. (See Do Water Towers Hold Water?)

  • The first recorded and discovered sidewalk was in Corinth, a city in Greek during the 4th century. 
  • Later, Romans also built pavements but named them Semitae.
  • Another sidewalk was discovered in Anatolia (Turkey) 2000 years ago.
  • But after that, due to the decline of civilizations, these sidewalks disappeared. They came back into the system after the Great Fire of London in 1666. But sidewalks became common in several parts of the world during the 19th century. Also, check out 4 most important inventions of the industrial revolution.

3. Materials used in Sidewalks

The materials used in constructing the sidewalk depending on the type of sidewalk.

  • Earlier, wooden sidewalks were very common in North America. But nowadays, concrete sidewalks are prominent. Even though these materials are strong, there are cracks in sidewalk.
  • Concrete pavements are made up of a mixture of cement, rocks, and water.
  • Other sidewalks are made up of brick, tarmac, asphalt, and stone.  (Also read What is Metal Made of?)

4. Formation of Cracks

To understand cracks, you need to know that concrete is a mixture of elements. Then it is spread on the road in liquid or semi-liquid form. But as it dries, it starts shrinking, which causes it to break in several places. These cracks can appear anywhere on the concrete sheet, but they occur especially where the concrete is thin. Any such crack occurring by default may cause problems to civilians and pedestrians. 

The contraction joints are the lines in the sidewalk constructed purposely to prevent cracks in sidewalk. This is done so that the concrete doesn’t break from any other random place after these joints are made deep enough with the help of tools like plastic strips, saws, or grooving tools. But the issue remains and the cracks are still formed. (Also read 8 Sand Storms Facts)

5. Causes of Cracks in Sidewalk 

No matter how many years sidewalks could last, they are damaged or broken way before that. According to experts, a concrete sidewalk has a lifespan of about 20 to 30 years, and an asphalt sidewalk will last approximately 20 years. Several reasons are responsible for cracks in sidewalk or damage to the sidewalks. (Also read What Causes Potholes?)

  • Even though contraction joints are made in the sidewalks to prevent them from cracking, the soil beneath the sidewalk may get heated up or cooled down due to temperatures, resulting in upward or downward shifts causing cracks to widen more. 
  • Another common cause is traffic because sometimes heavy vehicles can cause damage. Soil settlement is an essential factor to fix during the construction of the sidewalk. If the underlying soil is not settled correctly before paving the sidewalk, it may cause the ground to get uneven, resulting in lifting the sidewalk patches in some places.
  • Tree roots exert an intense pressure from beneath, and this pressure is so strong that it may heave the entire portion above it to uplift, become uneven, and develop more big cracks. (Also read Why Is It Called Jaywalking?)

6. Sidewalk Crack Repair

The house owner can get the sidewalk near the house repaired by a mason in some areas. If the main sidewalk needs to be repaired, they need permission from the authorities to get it fixed. Follow the below-mentioned steps to self-repair the cracks.

  • Start the process by cutting out or removing the damaged portion by putting the chisel in the crack. You need to make the crack deeper with the sledgehammer.
  • Now, some cleaning is required to remove any broken pieces of debris inside the crack. It is necessary to clean it before making it wet so that the new patch sticks well. For this, a hard brush is used, then the water will dampen the old concrete to activate its bonding quality. Then add the patch mix (filler) and wait until everything gets bonded together. (Also read How Does Dynamite Work?)

7. Sidewalk Crack Filler

  • Once the old concrete is damp, the patching mix, Vinyl Concrete, made from vinyl, sand, and cement has to fill the cracks. 
  • The bonding agent is applied into the cracks with a putty knife. It is necessary to ensure that the fixed patch retains its moisture until it is set completely. The patch can be covered with plastic or something similar to keep the moisture intact. (Also read What is Occupancy Load Calculator?)

8. Benefits of Sidewalk

  • It offers shorter routes and reduces the time taken to reach the destinations.
  • Sidewalks are socially beneficial because they serve as a platform for roadside vendors, sidewalk cafés, or small markets. And it is a safe pathway for kids walking to and from school. 
  • Sidewalks are beneficial in managing the traffic as they provide a safe way for people to walk while the roads are used for motor vehicles. They provide a safe margin between pedestrians and motor vehicles, thus reducing the chances of accidents. (Also read What does the Diamond Shaped Traffic Sign Mean?)
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