Sealing asphalt driveway cracks yourself can save you money and boost the value of your property at the same time. And sealing those cracks is a lot easier than you think.
The reaction of most homeowners on discovering cracks in their driveway is to ignore them. They are not life threatening and they are not going to damage anything if they don’t get fixed. It’s not like a geyser that’s about to burst and cause extensive damage to you ceilings, fittings and fixtures.
Most homeowners would probably not even know how to go about repairing their driveway. But it is easier than you think and well within the capabilities of even the most DIY challenged individual.
Future Asphalt Driveway Repair Problems
The thing is you see, if you don’t fix those cracks you are going to face at least another 3 problems in the future:
- The cracks will grow and get bigger and become increasingly unsightly. They will also grow and become interconnected until there are more cracks than plain driveway.Not a pretty picture!And probably not one you would enjoy going to home to every day. There is also the neighbours to consider – what would they think? They might not say too much but they would certainly be worried about the value of their property dropping as a result.
- As time wears on the cracks, as they get bigger and older, will begin to break at the edges.Driving your car over them several times a day will increase the rate at which this will happen. As the cracks break at the edges the underlying foundation gravel will be exposed, loosened and pushed out. The end result – potholes. Now things are becoming a bit more difficult, and expensive, to fix.
- Untreated cracks allow water to get into the foundation layers. Left unchecked water will destabilize the underlying gravel which will become weaker. Depending on the climate you live in temperature extremes will make this problem worse. Freezing and thawing will cause heaving resulting in the surface of your driveway breaking up into lots of little pieces. With constant traffic this problem will be made worse. And depending on how long you ignore this problem you may well end up with having to reconstruct your entire driveway.
So why don’t homeowners jump around and fix these cracks as soon as they see them? Well, there are several obstacles in their way:
- Don’t know how – many see asphalt driveway repair as a specialized area requiring the services of a professional asphalt contractor.
- Don’t know what tools or materials they need – and often are unsure of how to even go about it.
- Apathy – cracks get noticed but nothing major is happening. The driveway is still in place. It’s still in use and the cracks don’t look like they are going anywhere so why worry.
- Cost – homeowners fear what it could cost them to get the cracks fixed so procrastination is the order of the day.
Asphalt Driveway Repair Solutions
The solution is not as difficult as people think it is. Sure, it will take a bit of time and effort on your part but repairing the cracks in your driveway is well within the abilities of anyone who owns their own home. All you have to do is:
- Bite the bullet – decide you are going to get it done, no matter what.
- Make sure you have the right equipment for the job and none of it is particularly specialized. As a homeowner you should probable have some of these tools in your garage anyway:
- Hard broom for sweeping the area of the cracks to remove all loose material.
- Wire brush for really getting into the cracks and getting all the loose sand and dirt out.
- Soft broom for getting rid of all the remaining dirt after using the wire brush.
- Small compressor – nice to have but optional for making sure all the cracks are dust free.
- Herbicide or soil sterilant and a means of applying it.
- Caulking gun for applying the crack sealant.
- Plywood to cover the repaired area while to sealant sets.
Here’s how you do it:
- Sweep the area of the cracks to be sealed with the hard broom including the cracks themselves. This will help to break any potentially loose edges and remove most of the loose material.It would not be a good idea to use water to clean the driveway first because you do not want water getting into your driveway foundation through the cracks.
- Use the wire brush on the cracks themselves to make sure all the loose and weak areas of the crack are broken down.
- Sweep all the remaining loose material, after using the wire brush, with the hard broom first. Then bring on the soft broom to get rid of any remaining fine material. Your cracks should now be clean and ready for repair.
If you have a small compressor in your garage for pumping your car’s tires then by all means use it for making sure the cracks are clean. You need to make sure the cracks are clean and dirt free before applying the sealant. The sealant won’t adhere properly to the crack if there is still loose dirt in it.
- There’s no telling if weeds are going to grow from your cracks after repair so it is a good idea to apply a herbicide or soil sterilant to the crack before sealing. Your local hardware shop will be able to advise you on which product to use. After applying it wait for the cracks to dry before continuing with the sealant.
- Your local hardware store will advise you on which crack sealant you can use with a caulking gun. There are many different types of crack sealant on the market, all with different methods of application. The one you want can be applied with a caulking gun and will seal.If you don’t have too many cracks to repair there are also crack sealant products that come in handy squeeze bottles. You would then not need a caulking gun.
- Once you have sealed the cracks it’s best to leave them for at least 24 hours to set before driving over them. If, however, this is not possible put thin sheets of plywood over the area you need to drive over. This will prevent your car tires from picking up any of the sticky crack sealant.
As you can see repairing asphalt driveway cracks is not difficult at all. It is well within the scope of any proud homeowner. So, the next time you have a look at your driveway and see those cracks there don’t ignore them. Bite the bullet and get on and fix them. If you get organized it shouldn’t take you more than a couple of hours over a weekend.