Frost Heaving FAQs

Have you ever hit a pothole in your vehicle? Those potholes are from the freeze-and-thaw cycle of Minnesota’s weather. And those big bumps in the road, the ones that seem to disappear in the spring. They are often caused by Frost Heaving. Frost Heaving can happen anywhere, to concrete or asphalt, new or old.


Frost heave happens when winter’s cold reaches the frost line, freezing the moisture in the soil’s top layers and trapping moisture below, unable to evaporate. 

This trapped moisture forms ice lenses, disk-like ice structures beneath the soil that, while interesting to observe, can cause significant problems. As water deeper in the soil moves up and freezes at the ice lens, it enlarges, exerting upward pressure and displacing soil and anything above it, such as driveways or sidewalks. 

While control joints in concrete structures aim to alleviate this pressure, sometimes nature’s force can override these measures, leading to the ground and structures lifting, causing cracks and uneven surfaces.

Complete prevention is challenging, but several strategies can be used to minimize the impact of freezing and thawing cycles on the ground. These include:

  • Improve drainage
  • Replace soil with more porous alternatives like gravel or sand
  • Use frost-resistant materials
  • Insulated the ground beneath pavements
  • Dig reservoirs or incorporate subsurface drainage  
  • Strategic landscaping to reduce water flow 


Read More: Rise Above Frost Heave: Understanding and Protecting Your Outdoor Surfaces

Soils with high moisture retention, like clay or silt, are more susceptible to frost heave. Sandy or gravelly soils, which drain better, are less prone to heaving.

Yes, new concrete installations can resist frost heave by employing strategies like installing below the frost line, using air-entrained concrete, ensuring effective drainage, and using appropriate subgrade insulation and materials, thereby minimizing its occurrence and impact.


The best time for repairs is usually in the spring or summer when the ground has thawed, and conditions are more stable, allowing for more effective long-term solutions to be implemented.

Repairs might involve leveling or replacing affected sections, filling cracks, compacting the soil beneath, and addressing drainage issues to prevent recurrence. Professional assessment is often necessary to determine the best course of action.


We’re here to help you smooth things over.