Driveway cracks, divots, and sinkholes are more than just unsightly—they can also compromise the structural integrity of your driveway. It’s important to address these issues as soon as you notice them. The good news is that most of these repairs are quick and relatively simple as long as you have the right materials and tools. Read on Driveway Repair Charleston SC to learn more driveway repair tips.
A ragged-looking driveway can make a bad impression on guests and slow the overall sale of a home. It can also be a hiding place for weeds and roots that quickly damage the surface when they establish themselves. Homeowners can keep their driveways in good shape by promptly addressing mild cracks and cleaning away stains.
Before tackling a driveway repair project, homeowners should clean the area around their driveway to remove any dirt, debris, or weeds that have grown in the cracks. They can use a garden hose or a power washer to loosen any dirt in the cracks and then use a broom or brush to sweep the surface free of dirt.
Stains like mud and mechanic’s grease are fairly easy to remove when they are fresh. But if you have left-over stains such as paint or motor oil that have been sitting for a long time, they may be more difficult to eliminate.
Bleach will not harm concrete when it is used at full strength, and a strong solution of one cup of bleach per gallon of water can be effective in most stain-removal applications. However, you may need something more potent for tough stains, and hardware stores and large home improvement retailers often stock concrete cleaners and stain removers that can be purchased at full-strength.
The ultra-absorbent properties of cat litter are perfect for soaking up any fresh oil spills, and you can also sprinkle sawdust on top of the stain for a similar effect. If these remedies don’t work, you can try a mixture of baking soda and water or a commercial degreaser such as trisodium phosphate (TSP). These products are available at most hardware and big-box home improvement stores. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper usage.
Determine the Extent of the Damage
If your concrete driveway has a lot of cracking, holes and discoloration, it is definitely time for repairs. These are typically covered under homeowners insurance, depending on the damage. It wouldn’t be covered, however, if the accident was caused by something outside your control, such as a tornado or a falling tree.
In some cases, a homeowner may be able to perform some of the repair work themselves. This is usually the case for small cracks less than a quarter of an inch wide. A simple crack filler can be purchased at most home improvement stores for between $10 and $15. It is important to address these cracks before they become larger and can hold water that will freeze and further deteriorate the concrete.
More serious cracking, such as a gator crack (a series of parallel lines that resemble a gator’s skin), will require professional attention. It is important to determine what caused the cracking and correct it. For example, if the problem is due to freezing and thawing, removing some of the topsoil and re-grading the area will help. It’s also a good idea to avoid parking heavy vehicles on the driveway if possible.
In some cases, the whole section of the driveway will need to be replaced. This is most likely the case if the sinkhole has grown too large, or if the sinking is being caused by a failing foundation. In this situation, a professional can often use PolyLevel to stabilize the concrete quickly and inexpensively. This is a special type of expanding foam that works extremely well on concrete. It isn’t a permanent solution, but it can give the driveway a new lease on life for years to come.
Patch the Crack
Small cracks less than 1/4 inch wide aren’t a problem, but if they are allowed to get wider by water seeping into them, freezing and expanding, and vehicles driving over them, your driveway could be in for trouble. To prevent these cracks from getting worse, use a rubberized asphalt-emulsion crack filler to patch them.
Before beginning, clean the area well with a brush and hose. Make sure the crack is free of dirt, grass or other debris that might prevent the sealant from adhering properly. You can purchase a kit that includes the right kind of crack filler and non-sag asphalt concrete repair sealant for your specific driveway material.
Once you’ve cleaned the area and widened the cracks to at least 2 inches, shovel the packaged cold-patch blacktop into the hole. After filling, smooth it out with an iron rake and use the hammer to undercut the edges. This will help lock in the patch and prevent it from ripping out later on.
It may take a day or two for the patch to completely cure, and you should not seal it during this time. However, once it is ready, you can begin sealing the rest of your driveway as directed on the label.
This will prevent the cracks from reopening and give you several more years of use before your next project is needed. If you’re looking for a longer-term solution, resurfacing the driveway involves scraping off damaged sections and pouring on new asphalt or concrete. Although it’s more expensive than just patching, it can add several years to the life of your driveway. Just keep in mind that this method is not as durable as replacing your driveway completely.
Repair Sunken Sections
It’s not the kind of thing that anyone gets excited about showing off to guests, but a driveway in disrepair does more than just detract from your home’s curb appeal. A poorly maintained driveway can also be a serious safety hazard, especially if the cracks in the concrete allow weeds and grass to grow through. And, of course, driving on a cracked or sunken driveway can damage your vehicle’s tires and undercarriage.
While it’s perfectly normal for a driveway to sink a little over time, when sections of the concrete are 4 or 5 inches lower than the rest of the surface, it’s definitely time to get things fixed. If left unaddressed, the voids can continue to expand and eventually undermine the entire structure of the driveway.
Driveway sinkholes can be caused by many factors, including erosion and settling of the soil underneath the concrete. To prevent this from happening, make sure that downspouts and rainwater drainage are working properly to divert water away from the driveway. If the sinking is occurring in a specific area, consider contacting a soil engineer to determine if there is an underground issue at play.
If you decide to take on the job of repairing your own sunken sections, start by thoroughly cleaning the damaged area. Then, you’ll need to prepare the surface for patching by removing any dirt, mud, or vegetation that is obstructing the repair materials from adhering to the asphalt or concrete. Once the surface is clean, you can apply an asphalt emulsion patch or an alligator asphalt to the damaged section of the driveway.
Once the patch or alligator asphalt is applied, you’ll need to smooth out any rough edges with a hand sander or orbital sander fitted with coarse-grit sandpaper. This will ensure that the repaired section is flush with the surrounding surface and that the repair blends seamlessly into the overall appearance of your driveway.
Smooth Out Any Rough Edges
If you leave small cracks untreated they will get bigger and can spread down the entire length of your driveway. Replacing a whole driveway is a major undertaking and expense so repairing small cracks as they appear will prevent them from becoming larger problems.
Asphalt is also susceptible to damage from traffic and freeze and thaw cycles. If the surface begins to lose its original integrity it can create large cracks or sinkholes that can be a tripping hazard for anyone who uses the driveway. These types of serious issues require professional concrete or asphalt driveway repair from a specialist who can handle complex repairs with ease.
Minor cracks can be repaired using an asphalt emulsion sealant or gilsonite. Both are available in a spray format that makes application very easy and produces excellent results. Follow the product’s directions for application and squeegee the area thoroughly for best results.
Larger cracks may need to be tamped down using a pothole tamper or even a vibrating plate compactor. This is necessary to help the repair materials adhere to the existing asphalt. This tool will also compress the asphalt aggregate and make it last longer and give your driveway a more uniform look.
A broken driveway can significantly reduce the curb appeal of your home. It can also be a tripping hazard especially for those who are physically challenged. Having it professionally repaired will not only increase the curb appeal but can also help protect the investment in your property. It can also help to keep family and friends safe when walking or driving on the surface. In addition, it can help to lower your insurance rates since a damaged driveway can be considered an eyesore and a tripping risk for drivers or pedestrians.