10 Reasons Causing Cracks in Asphalt Driveways

2 April 2017

Your driveway is one of those things that most homeowners hardly ever think about. It is usually the first thing that people notice when coming to your home.

Asphalt remains the most common material to use for driveways and is also the least expensive and durable. It is an affordable, safe and attractive surface for paving your driveway.

Over time, most driveways begin to crack, showing signs of wear and tear with the material starting to break down and become separated.

10 Reasons Behind the Cracks in your Driveway:

  1. Moisture

Water wears down and infiltrates any paved surface almost immediately by beginning to wash away the gravel and sand base of your asphalt drive, causing the top surface layer to become distorted which leads to cracking. New asphalt dries hard but retains some flexibility which is lost over time; one crack is all it takes. Hot mix asphalt is specially designed to be flexible and can withstand the extreme pressures of a four-season climate.

Remove the debris from all the cracks and fill them with a hot sealer which is the only long-term solution as the crack fillers sold at home centres are temporary fixes. 

  1. Sun

The sun heats up the asphalt and breaks down some of the substances in the mixture. Sunshine dries out the asphalt causing it to wear out and break down; not enough moisture also causes it to wear down and crack. The heat of the sun may cause the ingredients of the asphalt to break apart, but cracking occurs due to actions such as a parked car or even foot traffic.

  1. Ground Movements

The ground is constantly shifting due to seasonal changes and conditions such as thaw and frost. Natural disasters also cause the earth to shift, but it is actually the annual ground movement that has a greater impact, putting pressure on the asphalt, resulting in cracks and potholes. The ground expansion below the driveway can cause the driveway to move. You can fix it by replacing or patching up the damaged area and then applying an overlay to the entire driveway to match.

  1. Improper Installation

The most common cause of cracks in driveways is improper installations, usually due to a poorly constructed base.

Those contractors who install an improper base often use light materials to save time or money. When such loose material becomes wet and the freeze-thaw cycles cause the materials to expand and contract, putting uneven pressure on your driveway. 

  1. Tree Roots

Growing tree roots can also cause tremendous pressure on your driveway. As they grow, they tend to apply uneven pressure on parts of the driveway and its foundation, resulting in a crack once the pressure builds up past the material’s breaking point.

  1. Soil Erosion

It is the slow washing away of soil on a sloped site due to rainwater from a higher level down to a lower level. It occurs a lot more near creeks and rivers because water is also moving under the soil towards the lower levels. A new layer of asphalt can be applied directly over the sunken driveway to avoid this.

  1. Clay Soil

Has a flexibility that makes it shrink during dry spells, then swell during seasons with heavy rains. The swell/shrink cycles causes the ground under a driveway built over a layer of clay soil to heave up and down in seasons that are extra wet or chilly.

  1. Excessive Weight

The exact amount of weight a driveway can hold without cracking varies based on the sort of driveway material, the depth of the material, whether the material is reinforced and the overall makeup of the driveway’s foundation or base.

  1. Sinkholes

Sinkholes can also cause driveway damage. Most start out as small depressions in the soil that grow over time till a collapse occurs.

  1. Poor Site

This leads to your driveway cracking in the first few years after construction, mainly due to inadequate soil compaction before laying the concrete. A concrete slab shrinks during the curing process within the first couple of months of being placed. Special caulks to hydraulic cement are products designed to repair small driveway cracks. Driveways that have severe cracking will need the damaged area cut out and replaced.

Small cracks and tiny fissures lead to large cracks if left unattended. Let us at Jackson Asphalt help you tend to the cracks in your driveways as soon as possible to optimise the value of your property.