Cracks in driveway? Cracks form in a driveway for a variety of reasons. Whether they are caused by the wrong process of pouring the concrete or problems that arose after it was poured, cracks can be pretty unsightly and affect driveways’ structural integrity.
The good news is that there are ways to fix cracks in your driveway. Read on to learn more about how cracks form in your driveway, what you can do about them, and whether professional help might be necessary.
How Cracks Form in Concrete Driveway?
There are many reasons your concrete driveway may develop cracks. One common reason is temperature changes causing tension forces within the concrete itself. These temperature changes cause expansion and contraction within the cement, resulting in fissures forming between the top and bottom layers.
Another common reason for concrete driveway cracks is improper reinforcement within the original mixture poured into place. This lack of reinforcement usually results in hairline fractures due to changes in the pressure or weight placed on top of the cement.
If you notice cracks in your driveway, it may be helpful to consider whether these factors played a role in their formation.
A driveway crack is either a break in your asphalt seal or an actual fissure within the asphalt material itself. Cracks below the surface are much more complex and costly to fix compared to cracks forming on top of your driveway.
Understanding what kinds of factors contribute to cracking will help you plan preventative measures early on.
The following list shows the most common causes (in order) for crack development:
Improper or poor maintenance
Potholes develop over time as vehicles travel over pavement repeatedly. If they aren’t regularly filled in, they become cracks. Vehicle traffic is also responsible for hairline fractures beneath the surface by putting too much weight onto one area.
Your driveway may have been designed to fit a specific configuration of your yard, but if it doesn’t follow the natural curve of the land or is oriented unusually, you will end up with cracks.
Cracks can also form due to structural issues within your foundation, not just where it meets your driveway. When you see asphalt cracking at joints between slabs or even deep underneath the surface, that’s usually causing concern about underground pipes and cables that are often buried very close by.
You might need professional help to determine precisely what is wrong before fixing these types of cracks yourself; otherwise, you risk doing more damage.
Traffic flow and weight
Understanding how the weight is distributed over your driveway helps determine if cracks are caused by too much or too little traffic. When many vehicles pass over the same area, they develop larger cracks because there’s excess pressure on that spot.
This can be mitigated by spreading out cars and other vehicles as much as possible since it will distribute their weight more evenly and reduce the risk of crack development.
The opposite scenario occurs when only a few cars drive over an isolated section of your driveway. Then those individual tires put all that concentrated weight onto one small section, which causes hairline fractures beneath the surface.
If you notice puddles of standing water on your driveway after a rainfall, you might want to reevaluate the drainage in that area. Degrading asphalt eventually produces cracks, and if there’s standing water beneath it, that can cause even more damage.
When little pools of water form beneath the surface due to proper drainage issues, they severely degrade your driveway over time by attacking its core materials with their salt content.
If you live in an area where flooding is common or has been known to occur before, ensure your driveway is designed correctly with many upward slopes from the edges toward the center. This way, rainwater will flow away from your home rather than pool nearby, therefore reducing the risk of structural damage due to excess moisture.
If it’s a concrete driveway with a topping that is cracking, most often, this is due to an improper base mix for the asphalt. A topping refers to the material applied over the asphalt after it sets. However, moisture can gather within its pores and cause damage below the surface if that material isn’t blended correctly.
In some cases, cracks are ok if they aren’t too deep or appear in isolated areas. Sometimes you can even fill them by yourself with aggressive patching materials explicitly designed for your type of driveway if only small cracks occur around the edges every once in a while.
You’ll usually see these kinds of cracks when huge vehicles pull in and out since they can put a lot of stress on areas that aren’t built to withstand the extra weight.
What Can You Do About Cracks in Your Driveway?
If more substantial cracks develop over time, don’t delay having them addressed since they may require professional repairs depending on their severity and location.
It’s usually necessary to hire a contractor specializing in fixing asphalt driveways since they’re trained to fix the problems most commonly associated with this material, such as structural or drainage issues. However, you can expect to pay $2000 or more for these types of repairs.
When your driveway experiences surface cracking that isn’t too extensive, it’s often effortless and cost-effective to fill these breaks yourself rather than paying thousands for a new one.
Follow the steps below:
- Clear out accumulated debris.
- Clean the crack with a wire brush.
- Insert a grouting material into the crack and spread it around to fill up all the crevices and lines on the surface of your driveway.
- Wet down the area with water and allow this patching material time to cure or dry out before using your driveway again. Usually, that’s about 24 hours, but this depends on what type of product you use.
The most important step is to make sure you’re using an asphalt grout appropriately mixed for its intended purpose. Otherwise, you risk further degradation of your driveway by adding filler materials while not addressing problems within it, which enabled those cracks to form in the first place. Therefore, you are right back to square one.
If the cracks are too severe, you’ll need to have them filled with an asphalt crack filler material designed for this purpose. However, these products no longer involve using hot tar since they use modern technology when providing a long-lasting solution for your driveway’s many issues.
Another popular option for sealing driveways is hot tar. This method involves melting the tar so that it fills up cracks between sections of pavement. While this method can be quick, it may not last as long as crack sealing. It’s best to take your time with this type of repair, so you don’t accidentally burn nearby plants or grasses.
Patching a driveway is another standard solution for dealing with cracks. With this approach, an asphalt expert will fill gaps using a mixture of old asphalt and cement grout.
Like other methods, the professional will remove any debris or other materials that are in the way before filling the cracks. This type of repair is often cost-effective and can last for a long time.
Asphalt cement is another option for fixing cracks. While this method does not involve tar, it’s similar to other crack repairs because it fills cracks with asphalt coating. The coating may be thin but provides better coverage than hot tar or patching. It’s usually an affordable way to fill minor cracks that do not extend too far into your driveway.
If you notice several large cracks forming in your cement or asphalt driveway, perhaps due to structural weaknesses in its foundation, you should likely consult a professional. They can properly evaluate the state of your driveway and recommend a solution.
If you notice smaller cracks morph into larger ones, it is best to fill them before they become problematic.
Now that you know how to tackle the problem of cracks in driveway, why not browse our ever-growing blog section or find out more of about the inside of your home? We have articles with tips on unclogging your toilet without your plunger and how to fix a leaky tap base!