Asphalt is naturally porous, which means that it absorbs water from the environment. When water penetrates asphalt in winter, it can expand and freeze beneath the surface of the driveway, causing cracks and other problems.
The more cracks appear in your driveway, the more water it can absorb, leading to further cracking and deterioration of the asphalt. These problems can significantly shorten the service life of your driveway.
Winter can be very hard on asphalt because there is routinely ice and snow on the ground. And a new driveway is especially vulnerable. Once the driveway is sealcoated, about 6 months after installation, it will be protected from the elements. But until that time comes, you must protect your driveway through smart maintenance. The following tips can help you take care of your driveway this winter.
Avoid Metal Shovels
Metal shovels can damage your asphalt driveway, so use a lightweight plastic shovel to remove snow from your driveway. You also need to shovel early and often in order to prevent the snow or ice from building up on the asphalt.
Hold the shovel at a shallow angle to ensure that your driveway is not damaged by the shoveling action. Never hold the shovel at a steep angle or use an ice pick to dig into your driveway.
Use De-icer Selectively
Deicers can be hard on asphalt, so you should generally try to avoid using them. But if you must use a deicer, avoid rock salt. Rock salt is generally known to be toxic and damaging to asphalt and isn't even that effective when temperatures are lower than 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
Instead of using rock salt, use Magnesium Chloride, which is good down to zero degrees Fahrenheit, or Calcium Magnesium Acetate, which is good down to negative 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hire a Snow Blowing Service
If you don't have time to shovel your driveway and keep up with snowfall, contact a winter snow removal service. A snow blower is a safe way to remove snow and ice from your driveway, provided that the skid shoes or skid plates are adjusted to a position about ¼ of an inch above the top of the driveway.
Talk to your snow removal service to ensure that they're keeping the snow blower blades high enough above the asphalt. This can help prevent the snow blower from doing some of the same damage that a shovel could do.
Make sure you hire a reputable winter removal service to ensure that your driveway will be treated with care. Talk to friends or nearby family members to find out which services they recommend. You can also ask local services for references.
Know the Signs of Asphalt Failure
Watch your new driveway for signs of asphalt failure like miniature cracks and potholes. Since your driveway is newly laid, you shouldn’t see damage to the asphalt. So if cracks are found, your maintenance habits could be creating a problem, or there could be a problem with the structure of the driveway itself.
Reach Out to Your Paving Company to Schedule a Sealcoating
Have your driveway sealcoated as soon as it's ready. Paving contractors get busy in spring, so scheduling your sealcoating far in advance can help ensure that you're on the schedule. If you have more questions about what you can do to maintain your new asphalt driveway this winter, contact an area expert. A good paving contractor can give you advice and help you understand more about your driveway.
At JR Paving & Construction Co., Inc., we're happy to answer homeowner questions about how to maintain their asphalt in winter and at other times of the year. Call us today to find out more.