When we fix something, we want that fix to stick. So it’s only natural that you want to know you can count on Liftech’s polyurethane concrete repair solutions to last for the long term. In that spirit, today’s blog breaks down the question of how long you can expect that foam to last, the big picture of concrete repair, and what that all means for your warranty.
That Foam Isn’t Going ANYWHERE
In most situations, our repairs are permanent. The polyurethane foam Liftech uses to complete repairs will last indefinitely – through your lifetime and well beyond. It cures within minutes as a solid, impermeable structure that adheres directly to the concrete. It is not susceptible to fracture or failure. It is a completely inert, solid material that is impervious to water, chemicals, insects, rodents, or erosion.
As Liftech co-owner Brian Lehnerz explains, “The foam itself does not break down. Sunlight exposure is the only thing that can break it down. But the foam is protected by the concrete. It’s closed-cell; water can’t penetrate it. So if you see some recurrence of failure – which could happen, there’s a 2% chance with our business – it’s most likely because the soils are moving underneath our material. It’s not because of the material itself.” In other words, as long as the substrate (the underlying soil) continues to perform, the polyurethane can last forever. It’s that soil that poses the primary risk to your repair.
Soil Muddies the Playing Field
Brian doesn’t mince words. He explains, “If anyone tries to guarantee you that that lift is going to be permanent, they’re full of it. Because nobody can guarantee that.” But that’s not because Liftech or a competitor delivered a sub-par product or did shoddy work. Rather, it’s due to environmental factors that are generally out of everyone’s control.
As Liftech co-owner Darren Crotchett explains, after Liftech performs polyurethane concrete repairs, “There is still the potential for soil movement. There is erosion over time. [Structures] take on a lot of moisture. Things change. The earth is constantly moving. So can we give a 25-year warranty on a flatwork repair? No, because that’s likely not going to look like that in 25 years. Not because we didn’t do our job. But because things are changing.”
In fact, many variables play a role in determining how long any type of concrete repair will last. In addition to the actual soils and moisture present in the area, variables include the age and nature of the construction, the practices used by the builder or the contractor, and the drainage of the surrounding area.
A Warranty You Can Count On
Of course, when it comes to feeling confident that a repair’s gonna stick, the average consumer loves a good warranty. It gives us a feeling of certainty, an assurance of value, and a possible recourse if and when things do go wrong. But here’s the rub: Any warranty is only as good as the company that stands behind it.
According to Brian, offering a warranty that you can genuinely stand behind is part of “the guts of how you run a successful, responsible business.” He explains that, within the handful of businesses using polyurethane to repair concrete, “We’re all trying to figure out right now – given the relative newness of this technology being applied at a residential level – what sort of warranty can we offer?”
Unfortunately, some of Liftech’s competitors have made big promises… promises they won’t be able to keep. One competitor that had been offering 10-year warranties on poly repairs has since gone out of business. Says Brian, “Anybody can give you a lifetime warranty. But if they’re only here for another year, is that going to help you? No.” That’s why – as Liftech continues their effort to come up with the best answer possible to the question of “how long will my repair last” – they are gathering and analyzing data so that they can accurately assess performance over time, and base that answer on actual practical experience.
No Empty Promises
Liftech has built their business to last. Just like their polyurethane foam, they aren’t going anywhere, either. That means that each Liftech warranty represents a genuine promise made to a customer. And Liftech simply won’t make customers promises they aren’t yet certain they can keep.
Liftech’s warranties are based on more than five years of data and hands-on experience. Currently, Brian explains, Liftech’s standard out-of-the-box warranty is “two years, ½ inch of movement, any type of concrete” for exterior repairs (walkways, driveways, porches, patios, etc.). The warranty is extended to five years for interior repairs (garage floors, basement floors, interior floors, etc.).
The point is, when Liftech determines warranty terms, they’re not just throwing out any old number. Their goal is not to dazzle customers. Instead, their goal is to provide customers with genuine assurance they can deliver on and feel confident about.
The good news is that the overall trends shown by Liftech’s data are very encouraging. As of last quarter, Liftech has a warranty rate of only 2%, an impressive reduction from prior years’ rates.
Understanding the Bigger Picture
When you’re contemplating the question of how long your polyurethane concrete repair will last, it’s helpful to back up and look at the big picture. Because you do have other concrete repair options:
- You can tear your concrete out, getting rid of it completely. But that’s not a great option in most cases, because – generally speaking – there’s a reason that concrete was poured in the first place. It has a purpose (e.g., preserving a safe, clear passage for you up your driveway).
- You can tear it all out and repour it. But, in addition to the high costs of re-pouring, the process of tearing it out and re-pouring further disturbs your soil. If your soil was already failing at depth, that could mean that you’ll only end up facing the same problems a little further down the road. And nobody is going to give you a warranty on new concrete.
- You can use mudjacking. Mudjacking lifts the concrete by using hydraulic pressure to pump a mixture of sand, water, and Portland cement pumped through 1-⅝” holes in the concrete. It cures in one to two days. The material is considered structural fill and weighs an average of 100 to 110 pounds per cubic foot.
- You can use polyurethane injections. Our process lifts the concrete by using a specialized gun to inject a two-part polyurethane mixture into ⅝” holes in the concrete. The mixture turns solid once underground and cures in less than 15 minutes. The polyurethane weighs only about two pounds per cubic foot.
Darren – who himself has more than 30 years of homebuilding experience – breaks down that big picture as follows: “We’re still dealing with ever-changing soils. Again, the earth is constantly moving. If you tear that concrete out and put brand-new concrete down, you’re going to have the same potential for failure as you would if you did nothing. Chances are if you injected it, you stand a better chance than if you tore it out and poured new concrete. Because we’re not putting additional burden on the soil and we’re treating the failing condition, which is the soil, which new concrete doesn’t do.”
About mudjacking, Darren is direct: “Mudjacking is sand, water, and a little bit of Portland [cement] to give it some stickiness, some cohesion. Without it, it’s just sand. Because it’s real slick – it’s like cake batter. It’s susceptible to erosion. It takes on moisture. It can fracture. It can crack and fall apart. So I always tell people: ‘Mudjacking was a fine solution as long as it was the only alternative to tearing your concrete out. But now with the advent of polymers, it’s going to go away.’ And that’s it. And all these mudjacking companies are fighting the inevitable.”
If the data ultimately show Darren and Brian that five years is something they can stand behind without putting their business at undue risk, they may yet decide that a five-year warranty is the right path forward for both exterior and interior work. But, like any honest businessmen committed to keeping their word, they won’t do it until they know it’s a promise they can keep.