asphalt driveway

Winter Maintenance Tips for Your Asphalt Driveway

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Ever thought about how winter weather affects your parking lot and driveway? Both take a beating from cold temperatures, snow, and whatever you use to combat ice buildup.

It’s not necessary to leave a driveway vulnerable to freeze-thaw cycles and other effects of winter weather.

We’ve put together several tips designed to help you keep your asphalt driveway in tip-top shape all winter long. Take a minute and read this short guide. It could save you from costly repairs in the spring.

Cleaning Comes First

The success of every other maintenance tip in this post hinges on a clean driveway.

Preparing a commercial driveway and parking lot for winter starts with a thorough cleaning. Cleaning doesn’t only make the driveway look better, it helps make it safer. Cleaning also helps prevent damage.

During the cleaning process, you’ll have a chance to discover cracks, potholes, and other damage. This gives you ample time to make repairs before winter. Cleaning also removes spills, including oil and gasoline, which both damage asphalt.

A clean driveway makes a great canvas for the rest of your winter prep work.

In Preparation for Winter Weather

Once the weather cools down, asphalt’s structure changes. With the start of the freeze/thaw cycle in Maryland, asphalt expands and contracts. This makes your driveway vulnerable to cracks, and eventually, the development of potholes.

You or your paving company can inspect the driveway for cracks and potholes. Keep in mind some cracks are so fine they’re not visible to the naked eye but a paving crew can find them.

Filling cracks prevents water from seeping under the surface. This will help protect the asphalt’s sub-base.

If you notice potholes developing, get them repaired before winter sets in. Potholes allow water to pool and expand, which results in a bigger pothole.

Neglecting pre-winter maintenance of your asphalt driveway increases the risk of permanent damage. After you’ve filled in cracks and repaired potholes, consider seal coating the driveway.

The Next Step Is Seal Coating

If you seal coat an asphalt driveway before winter you can maximize its useful life. Your paving company will first fill in the larger cracks and repair potholes. Seal coating takes care of any small cracks (less than 1/8”) and those you can’t see.

Seal coating is the best pre-winter maintenance you can do because it prevents water from penetrating the asphalt and causing additional cracking.

The reason you should have seal coating done before winter is because of the curing process. If you want the seal coat to cure properly, you need warmer temperatures. We like to see the temperature at 50 degrees and rising.

Seal coating also works best in dry conditions. Rain and snow don’t make good work partners for the seal coating process.

Do a Pre-Winter Drainage Check

Water is public enemy #1 for an asphalt driveway. Winter snow and ice melt put a driveway at risk for water damage.

You can avoid water damage by checking your drainage system before winter.

The drainage system provides an escape route for water that pools on a driveway after snow and ice melt. Allowing the water to sit on the surface of an asphalt driveway or parking lot causes moisture damage.

Standing water also freezes, melts, and refreezes, which can result in an overnight skating rink. Not only can this damage the asphalt, but it also puts employees and customers at risk of slipping on the ice.

How do you know you have a drainage problem?

Standing or running water in the middle of the driveway all point to drainage issues. You may also notice sand or rocks in the low areas of the paved surface.

Have your paving company come out and perform a formal check of your drainage system. Then, they can address any problem areas before winter sets in.

Up to this point, we’ve discussed pre-winter maintenance tips, continue reading for ways you can maintain your asphalt driveway during the winter months.

Keep Your Snow Shovel Handy

Whether you get an inch, or you end up with heavy snow accumulation, don’t leave snow on the driveway. It’s critical to remove snow before it sticks or freezes.

Most businesses hire a snow removal company to clear parking lots and driveways, but there may come a time when you need to do some of your own shoveling. In that case, make sure you use the right type of shovel. A shovel with sharp blades, over time, can scrape asphalt causing it to break apart.

Speaking of damages, you’ll also want to protect your driveway and lot from damage caused by snowplows. Keep your driveway clear of things the snowplow could run over, including rocks, dirt, and trash. If the plow runs over these things, you risk cracking the asphalt.

Use Caution When Applying De-Icers

Your goal is driveway safety, which means keeping it free of ice. No business wants staff or visitors to suffer from a slip-and-fall accident. That said, use care when choosing de-icing agents.

De-icers work great but contain harsh chemicals. Certain chemicals erode the surface of an asphalt driveway. The more traffic (both vehicle and foot) you get on the driveway, the more you increase the risk of de-icers making contact with the asphalt.

Look for a de-icer that uses fewer chemicals. If you’re not sure which one to choose, consult with your paving company.

Looking for Help with Your Asphalt Driveway?

Winter is already in full swing, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to implement driveway and parking lot maintenance. If you get a dry weather day, you can still inspect for cracks and other issues.

It’s likely you’ll need to wait until spring for seal coating, but you can still shovel, plow, and de-ice, which makes a huge difference as far as maintenance goes. Your paving company can also still come out and take care of cracks and potholes to prevent further damage.

If you’re looking for a company that specializes in maintaining asphalt driveways, you’ve come to the right place! Contact us today and request a free quote.

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Dan Kirksey

Dan is an asphalt paving contractor and has been helping business owners and homeowners with their asphalt and concrete projects throughout Maryland for over a decade.

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