Concrete will crack … count on it.  Is it the beginning of the end of your concrete slab?  It depends.  If the cracks are in the control joints or are surface cracks, simply filling the crack with an appropriate filler will prevent further damage.  If the cracks are structural (go all the way through the slab), there is not much you can do to prevent the eventual decay of the affected areas.

When a concrete slab is first poured, control joints are purposefully set into the slab to provide a place for cracks to go when the slab moves in response to temperature changes and movement in the earth beneath it.  In other word, cracks are directed to the control joints so that they will crack in a straight line instead of randomly throughout the slab.  When cracks appear in the control joints, they can be filled with a sealant to prevent moisture intrusion.

Surface cracks are small fissures in the top layer of concrete.  While they may seem minor at first, left unattended these cracks will widen, worsen, and allow water to penetrate the concrete slab.  When winter comes along, water in the slab will expand and contract as it goes through freeze and thaw cycles, eventually resulting in concrete surface failure.  Repairing surface cracks is a simple fix and most homeowners can do it themselves with appropriate concrete repair material.   Being proactive in getting surface cracks properly repaired adds to the slab’s longevity and minimizes future expensive concrete fixes.

Structural cracks run vertically through the entire slab and, generally, repairs can be expensive.  It is possible that a mesh with an overlay may disguise and possibly add time to the life of the slab, however, there is no complete structural “fix” currently available on the market.  As time goes on, each slab piece moves independently of each other.  Parts of the slab may break into more pieces and the concrete surface is no longer level.  At this point, the solution is to completely tear out the affected areas and pour new concrete.