​Does your asphalt driveway require special care in the winter months? Before the snow, sleet, and ice cover this paved area, take a look at what you need to know about wintertime care, maintenance, and repairs.


Asphalt and Water


While water on its own shouldn't erode your asphalt driveway surface, when the temperatures drop, this can change. Water that seeps under the surface or fills thin cracks expands as it freezes and contracts as the temperature warms. The freezing-thawing cycle can expand cracks, cause new ones to form, or result in pothole-type damage.

Keep in mind, water (in the form of ice or rain) isn't the only issue to watch out for. Even though snow is solid, when it melts, it can flood your driveway with a steady stream of water. If the temperatures drop mid-melt, the water will freeze on or in the asphalt.


Asphalt and Salt


Will salt or other ice melter help or harm your asphalt driveway? Rock salt is notorious with the destruction of concrete driveways, sidewalks, steps, and other surfaces. Even though this ice-melting substance can erode concrete paving, it won't always have the same disastrous effect on asphalt surfaces. That said, overuse or use on an already cracked driveway can cause erosion.


Asphalt and Other Ice Melting Products


If you shouldn't coat your driveway in rock salt, should you skip the ice melter step? Again, freezing and thawing water can ruin an asphalt driveway. This means you need to keep ice off this surface. Salt, when used correctly, isn't likely to ruin your new asphalt driveway. But if you overcoat the area or don't remove the product after the ice melts, it can cause problems.

Given the chance of damage, some homeowners prefer to use other ice melter products. A variety of options are commercially available. Before you choose one, you need to consider several factors. These include the current condition of your driveway, other safety issues (such as pets or children who may walk on the surface), and the surface temperature.

Some products won't work under a certain temperature. If the product isn't labeled to work down to the current temperature, it's an unnecessary addition to your asphalt. Talk to an asphalt or paving professional about which brand and chemical mixture to use if you have any concerns.


Asphalt and Proactive Maintenance


Does your asphalt driveway have cracks, pits, or potholes? The freeze-thaw cycle of winter combined with chemical snow melting products can aggravate an exciting problem. To avoid major damage, contact a paving contractor before the deep winter freeze gets underway.

The professional can inspect your driveway for potential issues and recommend a treatment plan. The extent of the repairs depends on the existing damage. The contractor can likely fill small cracks or make a repair with a sealant product to protect your aging asphalt.

According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), an asphalt driveway has a lifespan of 15 to 20 years. Even though your new driveway can last for decades, without the proper maintenance, it can crumble and erode in less time. The winter is a pivotal point in the year for proactive maintenance. Small fixes right now, such as filling a crack, can extend your driveway's life.

If the contractor determines the damage is too extensive to fill or repair, you may need a full replacement. Discuss when the best time of the year is to replace your asphalt driveway with the professional.

The cooler temperatures and wild weather of winter may not give the contractor enough time to complete the project. This may mean you'll need to wait until the spring for a full replacement.

Do you need a pre-winter driveway repair or replacement estimate? Contact Arrow Blacktop & Masonry, Inc., for more information.

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Winter Care for Your Asphalt Driveway

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