There’s a lot to like about old homes. Quality construction, larger lots, and lower price tags are just some of the reasons potential buyers prefer established homes. Of course, with character comes maintenance—especially when you have concrete steps leading to your new door. One common concern with concrete is its tendency to deteriorate over time. In many cases, old or unmaintained concrete steps will crack and crumble, leading to water seepage and flooding that can present a serious problem. Especially when those steps lead into a basement. Before you walk away from potential water damage, keep in mind you can correct leaky concrete with the following steps:
Clean and Wash Your Concrete
First, sweep the steps and any attaching foundation walls. Then, thoroughly power wash the surrounding concrete surfaces carefully. If you’re unfamiliar with gentle power washing techniques, call in the Peak Power Wash experts. With our soft wash approach, you can enjoy clean surfaces without causing more damage to your concrete steps. Plus, washing exposes any cracks that will need repairing while also removing dirt and debris. This is an important first step, since concrete needs to be clean in order to form a proper bond with sealant.
Out with the Old Caulk
Next, chisel along the joints between steps, as well as the foundation wall, to remove old exposed caulking. A gap about 1/8” wide is ideal, and the depth should be about 1/4”. Once you’ve achieved the desired size, sweep away any lingering dust and debris. Then, wash the entire surface again with soap and water to ensure a spotless finish for the next step.
Test Your Skill Before the Next Steps
If you want the job done right—and, trust us, you do—take the time to practice the caulking process. Get a couple small concrete bricks, clean them, place them next to each other like steps before applying epoxy caulk. Although this sounds silly, it’s better to mess up on these makeshift steps than your actual ones. If you’d like the colors of your concrete and caulk to match, we recommend taking a high definition photo of your concrete to your local supplier to find a matching shade of sand. Once the caulk is applied, quickly add a covering of sand, but be careful not to push the sand into the caulking and smear it.
Caulk and Seal Carefully
Once you are confident in your caulking, it’s time to move from test bricks to your concrete steps. Carefully apply a waterproof epoxy caulk along all joints in between the steps and along walls, as well as any cracks the power washing exposed. Backer rods should be installed in cases of severe cracking or significant gaps between joints. It’s an extra step that will be well worth your efforts when the next rain falls.
Allow several hours for the caulk to harden, and then apply a clear, penetrating silicone concrete sealer on all steps, landings and walls. For best results, apply a second coat and consider resealing every couple years. Keep in mind, our team also offers assistance with sealing concrete when it comes time for this step.
One Step Further
These tips should solve most seepage and puddling problems, but concrete with serious flooding issues may require more attention. Installing a sump pump is a big project, but that should remedy the most severe cases. You may also want to consider adding an awning above the stairs to help divert water away from problem areas.
Don’t let leaky concrete drown your love of old homes! At Peak Power Wash, we’ve been restoring, power washing, and sealing concrete for homeowners throughout South Central Pennsylvania and Central Maryland. Give us a call so we can cure your concrete steps before the next big rainfall!