John W Poulter, an Iowa State Highway Commission Mechanic, invented a device to raise pavement using hydraulic pressure. The first recorded use of the machine was in Burlington Iowa and was included in a commission report dated December 1930. Poulter’s machine forced a slurry of earth, water and portland cement through pre-drilled holes into the pavement. A national report covering this new concrete repair invention led to commercial production of the “mud pump” or “mud jack”.
The process proved to be successful as the damaged concrete no longer had to be torn up and replaced. Mudjacking allowed traffic to continue on the adjacent section of pavement while the mudjacking crew worked to repair sunken and cracked sections and to fill voids that would potentially cause problems in the future. In the early 40’s during World War II mudjacking was taken to a larger scale. The U.S. Navy Seabees started to used mudjacking to maintain the condition of their runways. Significantly reducing the time to repair runways and at a fraction of the cost meant the Air force was able to keep things running smoothly.
After World War II a more compact version of the mudjack equipment was developed which made the machine available for residential use and other small scale projects. Today the process is very similar to what was used in the 50’s. Small holes are drilled through the surface and mud is injected using hydraulic pressure. Mudjacking is still the fastest and most cost effective concrete repair method on the market and it can be used in a variety of applications.