The cycle of summer and winter can create cracks in your asphalt driveway. The vagaries of weather are to blame – sleet, snow, sunlight and steamy days all contribute to the destruction of your driveway. Blemishes can be repaired, while destruction necessitates replacement. Know when to have cracks filled in, when to overhaul your driveway and how to stave off the damage in the future.
Cause of the Damage
While asphalt deterioration could be a result of improper installation, more often than not it simply comes from natural wear and tear. Asphalt is a durable material, but over time it does start to break down – especially during those hot days.
Moisture from rain or melting snow seeps into cracks in your asphalt that you may not even see. As the weather gets cold again, the moisture that seeped into those cracks expands. And, just like when you place a full water bottle in the freezer, the expansion causes bigger cracks and even full heaving.
Repair vs. Replacement
Just because your asphalt driveway is starting to crack doesn't mean you have to do a wholesale replacement. Keep in mind the following considerations:
- Curb Appeal: If you're planning a move in the next couple years, the aesthetic value of a fresh driveway could up the value of your home.
- Driveway Age: An asphalt driveway can last between 12 to 35 years, according to About.com. If your driveway is within that spectrum, replacement is a good option.
- Crack Size: Cracks that are only a quarter-inch wide can usually be filled with liquid crack-fillers, according to the New York Times. Wider cracks take more work to repair.
Deep or wide cracks and large holes can indicate damage to the underlying foundation of the driveway. Basically, if the repair looks complicated or time-consuming, it's a good idea to contact a local paving contractor like K-W Cornerstone Paving for advice.
Maintaining Your Asphalt Driveway
Whether you opt for repair or replacement, take care of your driveway to extend its life. Start by using a stiff broom to sweep away large debris. Follow this with a hose down. For best results, use a power washer. This process should be done twice a year, in the spring and in the fall.
As soon as you see tiny cracks starting to appear, take care of them. Remove any debris with a stiff brush, and treat the area with weed killer. If the crack is deep, fill it with sand before applying crack-filler.
The patch needs to be tamped down. One option is to cover the patch with a board and park your car on top of it. Try to avoid doing repairs when rain, sleet or extremes of temperature are forecast.
Your driveway is often the first thing people see when they arrive at your house. It's also a view you take in on a daily basis. Make your driveway an attractive part of your day by repairing small cracks or giving it an overhaul as necessary.