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Common Driveway Dilemmas (And What To Do About Them)

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A driveway is commonly dismissed as one of the most utilitarian features of a home -- but problems afflicting a driveway shouldn't be taken lightly. Here are some of the most common driveway problems you may face, along with advice for getting those problems under control. 

Your Driveway Looks Like a Lake

If you have to wade through standing water to exit or enter your car every time a heavy rain hits your neighborhood, you need to deal with this driveway defect as soon as possible. Not only does that standing water mess up your clothes and provide a breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes, but it can also do lasting damage to the pavement by encouraging erosion, cracks and potholes. If your driveway wasn't built with the gentle slope that normally allows water to drain away naturally (or the surrounding earth can't absorb the water efficiently enough), then you'll have to compensate by installing a drainage system.

The good news is that even a very simple French drain can handle that runoff quite effectively. A typical French drain (sometimes also referred to as a trench drain) is nothing more than a pipe-lined ditch filled with loose gravel, although it may also be topped with a decorative grate to preserve the "curb appeal" of your home. Since these drains do their best work when they can catch after just uphill of the trouble zone, you'll want to install your drain toward the top of the driveway (where it meets the garage doors). The drain can then help divert the rainwater so it disperses evenly into the yard.

Cracks Crisscross Your Concrete or Asphalt

Whether you own a concrete driveway or an asphalt one, cracks can and do happen as many seasons of ice, liquid water, heat and shifting earth stress these materials quite literally to the breaking point. Small cracks in a concrete driveway are no cause for alarm; in fact, they're to be expected in this relatively rigid building material. But pay close attention to the depth of the cracks. Once they appear to reach halfway down into the driveway, it's time to get them filled. Your contractor will most likely fill deep cracks with a substance called epoxy modified mortar, topped with polyurethane sealcoating to deter future erosion and cracking.

Cracks in an asphalt driveway are a somewhat more urgent problem because of their tendency to cause potholes over time. Have this repair performed as soon as you see cracks form. A variety of filler products exist to fill asphalt cracks quickly and easily. As with concrete driveways, a layer of sealcoating can then protect your repaired asphalt driveway. For optimal preventative care, schedule fresh sealcoating every four years (or even more frequently if you live in a hard climate).

Potholes Are Defacing Your Pavement

Years of unaddressed cracks in your asphalt driveway can eventually loosen entire chunks of the material from the underlying substrate. When this loosened asphalt finally gives way and disintegrates, you've got a pothole lying in wait to cause stubbed toes, sprained ankles and dangerous falls, not to mention the wear and tear on your car's suspension. A pothole is one of those problems that just gets bigger and bigger the longer you leave it untended.

Fortunately, filling a pothole is an uncomplicated (if also unpleasant) job. The prime ingredient for this repair project is a mix of asphalt and gravel called cold patch. After washing out the pothole and clearing out any loose debris it may contain, fill the hole with cold patch until you have a slightly raised lump. Then tamp the lump down as thoroughly as you can. The most effective method is to place a board over the cold patch and drive your car's tires over it. (This is the equivalent of the commercial method known as "throw and roll" in which the contractor's truck tires perform the same task.)

You've got a lot invested in your home, and your home includes your driveway. Protect that investment by addressing drainage issues or surface damage promptly and correctly. Contact a company like ASAP Asphalt Sealing & Paving Co. for assistance.