Street Creep, also called Concrete Creep, occurs as a result of the unpredictable movement, shift and expansion of concrete streets. Extreme pressure, due to traffic and natural settlement, pushes the concrete street against the driveway moving it into the home's foundation producing serious cracks in foundation walls.
This problem affects homes with concrete driveways and attached garages. Homes located at the end of "T" intersections, at the end of cul-de-sacs, and on the outside of a curve are especially susceptible to Street Creep damage.
Homes built on hills are more susceptible to creep because gravity will induce concrete streets and driveways to "slide" downhill.
Although this is a national problem, it is more prominent in wet areas and areas with expansive clay soils. Dry regions experience the downhill slide scenario. Typically, it is not as noticeable in regions without basements but it still occurs.
The most common preventative fix for street creep is installing an expansion joint between the slabs to absorb the flex.
According to the Portland Cement Association's definition, expansion joints, also called isolation joints, are used to relieve flexural stresses due to vertical movement of slab-on-grade applications. An expansion joint is simply a buffer (usually made of wood, rubber or other material) inserted between two slabs of concrete. Properly installed, it will shrink and expand as the concrete moves, absorbing the pressure and stress of the movement before it starts cracking and crumbling the walls in your home.
Your driveway may already have an expansion joint but Street Creep may still occur if it not installed properly. Most contractors will pour the entire driveway and then while the concrete is still wet insert the expansion joint material into the wet concrete. If the depth of the concrete exceeds the width of the expansion material, there can be inches of concrete beneath the expansion material that renders the expansion joint useless. When the slab expands it will push the inches of concrete underneath the expansion material and in time push into your foundation wall causing damage to your home.
Street Creep repairs are not cheap. It can range from $2,400 to $50,000 depending on the extent of the damage and the repairs involved. Sadly, homeowners can't expect any help covering that bill.
Most homeowner insurance companies indemnify themselves with what is called "Earth Movement Exclusion." Earth Movement is defined as: earthquake, landslide, mudflow, earth sinking, rising or shifting, or mine subsidence. This exclusion is usually part of your homeowner's coverage and it allows your insurance to deny you a claim for the extreme costs of repairing your foundation walls and driveway damaged by Street Creep.
Most municipalities have a policy handling Street Creep claims. Their policy normally is that when there is "visible proof" of Street Creep they will make the necessary repairs to your driveway and decrease the potential for any future Street Creep problems. The municipality will not cover any damages to your home. The "visible proof" could be a cracked foundation causing thousands of dollars in damage.
Some city and community officials are taking preventative actions to minimize the occurrence of Street Creep in new developments. Some area officials require driveways constructed in areas prone to Street Creep have a four-inch expansion joint at the back of the curb, a one-inch expansion joint at the back of the sidewalk or near the property line and a two-inch expansion joint adjacent to the garage floor.
Luckily, street creep doesn't happen overnight. You can catch the signs of it with simple tests before it ruins your foundation.
Conduct a basic test of your own driveway and foundation for signs of street creep like this:
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