A paved driveway is designed to be durable and to last for years. Cracks and potholes in your driveway not only impact the beauty of your home. It also affects your comfort and your car. Ignoring it or filling it in with more asphalt or concrete isn’t a long-term solution, and ignoring it is even worse.
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A paved driveway that’s done right should last between 8-10 years. You can expect it to keep up its color and seamless appearance for the first year. After that, the weather will start impacting it, causing the surface to look grey and start fading. In the third, sand, dirt, mud, ice and snow will start wearing on your driving, causing gavel to become loose around years four to six. A few years after this, you’ll begin to notice cracks and potholes. When you start seeing the cracks and holes, you can patch the holes and seal the cracks, but this is only a short-term solution.
If you’ve noticed that your driveway is starting to crumble, and you’re unsure of why you’ve come to the right place. Below you’ll find a list of different reasons this occurs.
A driveway that starts cracking early can signify that it wasn’t installed properly. Your driveway consists of crushed stone or gravel that’s tightly compacted, followed by an aggregate base. Then the surface is laid on top. If the foundation is not laid correctly, it will not hold up for long and will quickly start showing signs of aging.
Raveling is when the top layer of aggregate starts breaking down, causing gravel and grit to appear. While raveling begins slowly, it will make its way down into the bottom layer leading to cracks and pot-hole. This typically occurs in older driveways that have not been maintained and show signs of oxidation.
- Weather – outside elements such as ice, sun, rain, wind, and now will impact your asphalt over time by weakening bonds.
- Poor installation – If the foundation was not done correctly or the weather was too cold, it may cause premature raveling.
- Heavy vehicles – If you live in cold weather, you’ve probably seen the signs that say seasonal load restrictions. The reason for this is when seasons change. It causes changes in how much weight your driveway can hold—also, large vehicles such as snowplows or vehicles with oversized tires.
- Tree roots – these roots will grow anywhere as long as the soil is good and there’s oxygen, including under your newly paved driveway. If this happens, it can lead to buckling that can reach four inches or more. This is a significant hazard that can lead to a lot of damage to your vehicle.
- Water – water can seep under the asphalt and into the foundation, causing your driveway to become unstable, leading to cracking and holes if it’s not fixed.
These are low areas in the driveway that were not correctly compacted during the installation and collapse as layers start settling and shifting. It can also be caused by stumps roots decomposing. Don’t attempt to install an asphalt paved driveway if you have an unstable marshland because the different layers can damage the base layer, allowing water to seep through the rocks, leading to depressions.
There are six types of cracking that you may develop in your asphalt driveway. Below is a list of the most common ones, why they occur, and how to tell the difference.
- Block cracking has squares of circles or squares in your driveway pavements. They are caused if the people who installed your pavement used an old mix or mixed that as too dry when played. These will appear earlier than expected, roughly two to three years after installation. It doesn’t extend into the sub-layers and can be fixed by calling a professional me to seal the cracks, which will stop the cracking and retore the asphalt’s strength.
- Edge Cracking is distinguishable because they occur along the outer edges of the pavement. They are longer than other types of cracking and run vertically. These are formed by the soil under the road contracting and shrinking, poor drainage. If you notice this happening remove the vegetation around the edges.
- Fatigue cracking is otherwise known as alligator cracking. You’ll recognize this by many small cracks in the same area that looks like alligators’ skin. Typically, this type of cracking indicates flaws in the design and installation, frequent heavy loads, poor drainage, and temperature changes.
- Transverse Cracking occurs along the joints of the pavement. Most of the time, asphalt driveways are laid along joints. Cracks will form if the asphalt isn’t applied correctly along these joints. It also can be caused by the surface of the asphalt shrinking and expanding, temperature fluctuations, and drainage issues. To prevent further damage, you should improve drainage areas along the driveway’s edge needs to be improved.
- Reflection Cracking is cracking along the surface caused by sub-layer joints shifting and cracking. They are reflective of the damage caused to sub-layers.
- Slippage Cracks are wrinkles and deep gaps in the driveway and occur when the top layer doesn’t adhere to the bottom layers. This indicates that too much gravel or sand was used when professionals installed it.
These are usually the result of fatigue cracking and weren’t fixed. The cracks run together, causing chunks of pavement that can dislodge, leaving potholes. If left alone, these can cause extensive damage, resulting in vehicles and tripping hazards.
The best way to prevent these damages from occurring before they should be is to have your asphalt professionally installed. Another way is to apply seal coating two years after the installation. While you can be a DIY project, it will last longer, and you’ll have better results if a qualified professional do it. The benefits of having this done are.
- It’ll reduce repairs.
- Accelerate the melting process when it snows and ice
- Protects pavements from spills
- Prevents water penetration
- It keeps the dark color longer
- Prolongs the life of the pavement