As a prospective buyer walks up to your home, one of the first things he or she likely will see is your driveway provided it is not populated by vehicles. He/she will see the driveway and the home’s exterior front area before seeing the inside of the home. The driveway of most Ontario homes is at the front though we seen some at the side. So in short, the driveway adds to or subtract from the home’s curb appeal.
There are many types of driveway materials. We have seen unpaved, gravel, asphalt, interlock and concrete. Each of these except the unpaved has their own advantages and disadvantages. For example, asphalt cost less than interlock and concrete, and has reasonably good life. Interlock looks good and costs more, but we have seen weeds growing up between bricks in interlock driveways quite frequently. Concrete in its many versions last the longest, the easiest to maintain but is the most costly. In this article we will focus only on asphalt driveways since they are by far the most common of the three, and the problems associated with them mostly as they age.
- Ponding or Standing water
The driveway may become un-leveled or have impressions often caused by the weight of parked vehicles in the same spot over time. The result is that rain water will settle in these areas. Anywhere, that water collects and sits for long periods will eventually be damaged. Water getting between the aggregate and going through freeze-thaw cycles in our northern climate is what causes the damage.
Asphalt drive way consist of aggregate (gravel) and a binder. The sun’s ultraviolet rays causes the binder to deteriorate. The result is that the gravel becomes loose. What also compounds this problem is that water can now get into the asphalt resulting in both problem 1 and problem 2 occurring at the same time.
3. Settlement and Shrinkage
One that we see a lot in homes is when the driveway is close to 15- 20 years old, or not maintained properly is settlement and shrinkage. The result of which is the driveway level drops a few inches lower relative to the garage floor for example. We have seen as much as a 4 inch (100 mm approx.) differential in a some cases.
4. Cracking With Gaps Supporting Plant Life
Ravelling and shrinkages will support cracking. If the job was poor in the beginning all these will happen more quickly after installation. As cracking begins dirt and moisture will set in. These are the ingredients needed to for plant life. So grass and weeds will soon follow providing the driveway with an unsightly seen.
Things NOT to do
Some of the ways you can lengthen the life of your asphalt driveway starts by first not doing certain things in your driveway.
- We are thinking of oil changes or auto-mechanic work. Asphalt is oil based and oil and gasoline both will damage your driveway.
- If the driveway is new, wait 3 to 5 days before driving on it. The higher the temperature the longer wait because the asphalt remains softer longer. It is important to know though, that asphalt takes about six months to a year to be completely cured.
- Do not use metal shovels to remove snow. Metal shovels can scrape and dig into the asphalt. Indentations and scratches makes water penetration easier.
Things you SHOULD do
Now for some of the things you can/should do. Care of your driveway actually starts in the summer. Do so by fillings cracks and sealing your driveway. Fillers and sealers are readily available in big box stores in wide varieties. Now it is possible if you did not do any of things talked about in the previous section, it is possible there are no cracks to fill and if you sealed the year before maybe no sealing is required at this time. All that is possible, however to arrive at that conclusion, you must first inspect the driveway in the summer which is actually step one of good driveway maintenance.
Qualitex Home Inspection services the Greater Toronto Area: Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Milton, Oakville, Burlington, Vaughn.