By Megan Wild, author of Your Wild Home
Spring is finally here. It's time to break out the warm-weather clothing, stock up on spring allergy medication and — maintain your driveway? The last thing on that list is probably one you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about. Driveways are supposed to just last forever with no work needed, right?
Nope. You need to make sure you maintain your driveway every year, especially after cold winter weather. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Here are a few tips and tricks to help with spring driveway maintenance.
Puddles are great fun if you’re a small child, but if you’ve got new puddles forming in your driveway after the winter snows finally start to thaw, this could be a sign that your substrate — the supporting material beneath your driveway — is starting to deteriorate. If it is allowed to continue, it can lead to cracking and expensive damage.
Puddles are the first indicator of substrate damage, so when snow melts, keep an eye out for them in your driveway.
It’s tempting to salt your driveway during the winter to keep it from icing over and making it easier to get in and out of your garage. Unlike road asphalt though, concrete can be damaged by road salt and other deicers. Deicing chemicals can penetrate the surface of the concrete and cause cracks. These cracks will have to be repaired to prevent long-term damage and eventual driveway failure.
Instead of relying on salt or chemical deicers, sprinkle things like sand or kitty litter on your driveway. This won’t remove the snow, it but will give you some additional traction, making it easier to drive.
Melting and freezing ice can wreak havoc on concrete driveways. Water expands as it freezes, so a little bit of water in a tiny crack can expand exponentially during the cold winter months. Sealing your driveway before the first cold snap hits can help prevent cracks from forming, but you should still check for new cracks once the snow thaws.
A small crack can easily be filled or repaired before it has a chance to expand into a larger crack. Even commercial asphalt applications, like parking lots, can benefit from being sealed before the winter cold starts — but they should still be inspected for cracks after the winter season. Aim for every 3-5 years to keep your driveway in top condition.
The water left over from melted snow and ice can be the perfect place for algae to grow as soon as the weather starts to warm up. Algae doesn't just look messy — it can be slippery and make it dangerous to walk on your steps and driveway. Moss can even force its way into cracks in your driveway, making them wider and causing more damage over time.
Take the time to clean off your driveway once the weather starts to warm. A pressure washer can be great for this, but make sure you're not forcing water into cracks or into the substrate, which can make some of the problems we've mentioned here worse. If you've just got some small patches of algae, you can scrub them up with a small scrub brush and a non-caustic cleaner.
Spring cleaning shouldn't just be limited to the inside of your house. Take some time to clean up your driveway and inspect it for problems once the weather starts to warm up. If you take care of your driveway, it will last you for years to come. It doesn’t take much — just a little bit of your time during the spring to ensure your driveway functions properly.