Winter Update: Causes of Frost Heave Damage and How to do Frost Heave Repair

Frost Heave Repair

A groundhog sees his shadow and we’re told to wait for winter to pass us by yet again. However, the winter of 2017-2018 has been no picnic for many people. Several states saw extended record low freezing temperatures. The demand for frost heave repair will rise as a result.

Landscapers, contractors, outdoor property management companies, and municipalities will find themselves dealing with the cold hard facts; frost heave and cold weather damages are everywhere.

What Is Frost Heave?

Frost heave happens when the stones that are part of the walkway begin to heave (or shift) after freezing weather. This is a result of the joint sand underneath the stones settling unevenly after freezing and thawing out.

frost heave damage

What Kind Of Walkways Are Most Affected?

The most affected types of walkways are paver, concrete, and flagstone (natural stone) walkways. These types of walkways typically must be deiced during winter. Occasionally, due to severe conditions, frost heave repair is also required.

What Causes Frost Heave Damage?Brick Walkway Frost Heave Repair

Frost damage and heave are caused by the expansion of ice. To put it in simple terms, when water turns to ice, total volume increases. This can cause the following:

  • Paver and stone walkways could crack if they’re old or of poor quality.
  • Joint sand underneath walkways can settle unevenly.
  • If you use the wrong type of bulk salt to remove the ice, your slabs can be damaged.

The end results are: dangerous and ugly cracks in the concrete or flagstone. This will make your patio and/or driveway unsafe and unsightly. And, if these cracks aren’t taken care of right away, moisture will seep into them and make the concrete slabs vulnerable to heaving.

Frost Heave Repair

One solution to the loose flagstones and slabs is to simply remove them. You’ll also have to remove any old cement underneath them.

If you notice any long cracks running from one section of your patio or walkway to another section, then read on to learn more about paver patio repair. This is a clear indication that your foundation also has some serious cracking.

Paver Patio Repair

The best way to fix foundation damage in your patio or walkway is to do the following:

  1. Widen any crack in the foundation to about a full inch in width.
  2. The widened crack will then be filled with a masonry adhesive agent. This must be given enough time to setup.
  3. Bonding agent added to mortar mix will be used to fill the crack.
  4. You may also choose to add steel reinforcements along the crack area.


Flagstone walkways are generally less affected. They are well known for their immense durability. However, they can still get damaged during extremely cold weather, or if something heavy falls on them. Fortunately, removal of the damaged stone and replacement with a new one usually completes the repair.

Paver walkway repair is more time consuming and requires paver removal, subsurface layer repair, and replacement of pavers. In some cases new pavers are needed if frost heave has caused uneven wear or paver deterioration.

With less durable concrete walkways however, frost heave repair isn’t as simple. You should consult with an expert mason to examine your walkway and see if there’s any serious damage to the foundation.