Asphalt driveways are a great feature included in many homes today. But, just like everything else, they require regular maintenance. It’s important to find and repair cracks as soon as they appear. Fixing cracks ensures your driveway will keep it’s quality appearance and prevent larger problems in the future.
Cause of Driveway Cracks
Water is the most common cause of cracks in your driveway. Water can seep below the driveway surface and expand / contract with changing temperatures. Even moist soil can experience frost heaves resulting in significant damage. Additionally, your driveway is always exposed to the elements. Time will take its toll creating cracks and holes.
When to Fill Cracks
Asphalt driveways also expand and contract with changing temperatures. As the temperature gets colder, the asphalt contracts causing cracks to widen. This is the ideal time to address problem areas. Fill cracks in the early spring or late fall. Cracks filled in the heat of summer may result in gaps allowing water and debris to cause more problems.
Additionally, cracks should be patched while they are still small. This will prevent moisture entry and erosion of the sub-base and underlying ground from repeated freeze/thaw cycles.
How to Patch Cracks in an Asphalt Driveway
Clean the area: Begin by cleaning up the area. Sweep away as much dirt and debris as possible. A wire brush is very handy for this step. Remove any grass or weeds including the roots. Use a chisel to remove protruding chunks. Patching compound will adhere better to a smooth, clean surface. Finish up with a shop vac to further remove any dirt. I’ve also read about using compressed air or a garden hose to clean the crack. Whatever your preference, make sure the crack is completely clean and dry before starting the next step.
Fill with Asphalt Filler: Purchase a high quality asphalt filler that incorporates rubberized asphalt emulsion. Many come in caulk-like tubes but it’s also available in a standalone bottle. Take care to completely fill the crack. Use a trowel or putty knife to press the compound into all the nooks and crannies. Many manufacturers recommend that you slightly overfill the crack as the compound can shrink some while drying. Deep and wide cracks may require two applications.
Sealing the Patch: Allow the filler to completely dry. Finish the job by applying an asphalt sealer to create a waterproof barrier. Ideally, you’d seal the entire driveway for a nice uniform appearance. You can just seal the crack and surrounding area but it may result in a noticeably different color.
Maintaining is Cheaper than Repaving!
Our buddy Todd has written extensively about the cost of asphalt driveways. These simple maintenance activities are far cheaper than repaving an entire driveway, and should be regularly followed to avoid unnecessary early repaving cost.
What do you think? Do you have any asphalt cracks that need fixing?
Image courtesy of Rutger Blom