It seems to surprise us every year. One minute, we are sitting on a warm beach in August with a cold drink in our hand. The next minute Halloween is fast approaching while store shelves are being stocked with Christmas merchandise.
Regardless of how we all handle the inevitable changing of seasons, there are tasks homeowners face to ready their property for the winter months. Your asphalt or concrete driveway should be no exception.
The most damaging season for all pavements is winter, so if proper maintenance is not done, your driveway could start to show early symptoms of damage. Freeze/thaw cycles, road salts and heavy snowplows are the frequent culprits. When rain and snow make their way into the profile of your driveway, often through pavement cracks or underneath into the base layers, they expand into ice with freezing temperatures. When temperatures then warm up again, the ice that was previously supporting the asphalt or concrete below thaws, causing potholes to form as well as worsening existing linear cracks. Another great way to avoid big issues with your driveway is to ensure downspouts, sump pump lines and yard grading facilitate proper stormwater drainage away from valuable assets like your home and driveway.
Asphalt driveway cracks should be cleaned out and sealed up using a quality rubberized asphalt sealant. Fill the cracks just slightly below the surface of the surrounding pavement, so the material has room to move with the expansion and contraction cycles the driveway experiences during temperature fluctuations. It is good to pressure wash the surface to remove dirt, mildew and chemicals from tree debris that has accumulated on the driveway throughout the year, followed by a sealcoating application to the entire driveway.
Concrete driveways and patios need attention too. Typically, when new concrete is poured and finished, a sealer is applied to protect its surface from staining, scuffing and harmful substances. These sealers eventually wear off, so if it has been more than five years since your concrete was last sealed, it is time to reapply. Sealers should be applied to a clean and profiled surface, which means pressure washing or acid etching may be necessary to prepare.
There are a ton of products on the market, but clear acrylic sealers in either a matte or gloss finish are most commonly used in residential applications. Roll or spray apply two coats of sealer, ensuring no wet weather and temperatures are above 50 degrees. Wait until the first coat is dry before applying the second, then stay off the concrete for two to three days once completed.
Cracks in concrete should be treated to prevent further deterioration. Clean out loose dirt and debris in the crack using a blower or wire brush. Next, chase out the crack with a chisel or angle grinder to create a V shape, which allows for the most surface area for the crack sealant or repair compound to adhere to. Deep cracks can be backfilled with sand or foam backer rod before applying material.
Afterward, apply a bonding agent inside the affected area. A concrete crack sealant or repair material should be flexible and elastic to allow it to move with the concrete. Expansion joints should be left alone, as they are designed to crack with expansion and contraction cycles, instead of elsewhere in the concrete.
Ian Chaput is president of TruSeal Asphalt Maintenance. For additional information about asphalt maintenance services, visit www.truseal-asphalt.com or call 443-223-9491.