The absolute worst thing you can do when you first notice cracks in your asphalt driveway is to ignore them.
When you get sick you experience certain symptoms which helps your doctor diagnose what’s wrong with you. Well in the same way asphalt cracks in your driveway are telling you there is something wrong with your driveway.
These cracks are a warning sign that all is not well.
Often just by treating the symptoms, in this case the obvious cracks, the main issue will be resolved.
However if the warning signs are ignored the problem can get worse and become a major issue.
Why Do Asphalt Driveways Crack?
There are several causes of driveway cracking some of which include:
- The quality of the initial workmanship when the driveway was constructed. This includes:
- the suitability of the underlying foundation material and whether it is thick enough and was compacted properly.
- The quality of the hotmix asphalt that was laid. Was it produced to the right specification and was it laid whilst it was still hot? If the mix had started to cool then it would have been more difficult to adequately compact it. This would mean the asphalt would not be dense enough and may more easily allow water to seep through to the foundation layers. This would destabilize the foundation resulting in the asphalt cracking.
- The Weather. Although asphalt is a flexible material it does have limits. When the weather is hot the asphalt softens and expands. When the weather is cold it hardens and contracts.
This continual movement can also cause the asphalt to crack. And in areas where the range of temperature between cold and hot is extreme there is a greater likelihood of your driveway cracking.
Hot mix asphalt is not an impervious material which is why your driveway should have been constructed so that water would drain quickly off it. Water therefore can be present in the surface of your driveway and when the weather is really cold can freeze. As we all know water expands when frozen. This will cause the surface to crack and, if left unattended, break up.
- No edge restraints. If, when your driveway was constructed, there were no curbs or edge restraints put in place longitudinal cracks 4 to 6 inches in from the surface edge will appear.
- Tree roots or underground ant workings can also crack your driveway and the effects can be quite dramatic.
What Happens When You Ignore Asphalt Crack Repair?
As with most things you can get away with doing nothing about your asphalt driveway repair for a while. Although you must remember that while you are doing nothing and the cracks appear to be doing nothing those cracks are in fact plotting your downfall. It’s just a matter of time…
Whilst you are sitting there enjoying a cold beer thinking about fixing your driveway these cracks are letting moisture into the asphalt. The moisture sits in the cracks and seeps into the asphalt itself and eventually finds its way into the foundation layers of your driveway.
Once there the moisture helps to dedensify or loosen the gravel. When this happens the base on which your asphalt driveway surface is founded is no longer solid. This in turn will create new cracks, make old cracks bigger and turn bigger cracks into potholes.
So, instead of just sealing a few small cracks you are now faced with a slightly more daunting and dare I say time consuming and more expensive task of doing a whole lot more repair work than you ever bargained for.
Might be a good idea to start your asphalt crack repair jobs today.
What do you think?