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7 Things You Never Knew Were Ruining Your Driveway

7 Things You Never Knew Were Ruining Your Driveway

7 Things You Never Knew Were Ruining Your Driveway

When it comes to owning a home, driveways are kind of a big deal. They’re one of the first things people see when they arrive, and they’re generally used multiple times a day. That’s why destroying your asphalt or cement driveway is a major blow to your property value and something you want to avoid.

Here are 7 things that you’re doing to cause damage to your concrete or asphalt driveway without even knowing it and what you can do to avoid them.

#1 Poor Installation

Just because you had a professional install your driveway doesn’t mean they did a good job. Problems can arise if the foundation was not packed in properly or inferior materials were used in place of quality ones.

What to do: The best way to avoid these problems is to thoroughly research your contractor before hiring him or go with a recommendation from a friend or relative who has already used this service satisfactorily.

#2 Heavy Loads

Heavy trucks such as those used for construction, moving, or travel (RVs) weigh a lot, and if they are constantly sitting on your concrete driveway, the weight will cause damage. It is therefore recommended not to park these vehicles on your driveway for extended periods of time.

What to do: Opt for a paid parking lot or the street if this is an option.

#3 Studded Tires

Studded tires or snow tires with spikes/tracks are very useful for getting around the snowy streets safely. Unfortunately, they’re also great for making holes in your driveway. Asphalt driveways are particularly susceptible to this type of damage, but even concrete driveways will see wear and tear if they aren’t in pristine condition.

What to do: Keep driveways sealed properly, and avoid repetitive drives with these spikes on your driveway.

#4 Rock Salt

If you want your driveway to last, stay away from rock salt. Driveways, especially concrete driveways, suffer more damage from this substance than the comparative good they bring. While rock salt will thaw the ice and snow in temperatures as frigid as 20°F (-6.67°C), the whole melting and refreezing process wrecks havoc on your driveway material.

Aside from accelerating the rate of decay within the metal components of your driveway, the ice that thaws from rock salt seeps into your concrete, freezes, and corrodes the cement from the inside out. In short, this is a bad material for your driveway so avoid it at all costs.

What to do: If you feel you must use salt, make sure to remove all the snow, ice, and standing water from the surface once everything has melted. Then remove all excess salt from the driveway so it doesn’t further damage the surface. But your best bet would be to look for more effective, less damaging snow removal options.

#5 Shoveling Driveways

Shoveling driveway snow can actually damage your concrete or asphalt driveway. The metal blades that most people use scratch away at the surface, destroying your driveway with each snowfall.

What to do: Instead, use plastic shovels to minimize the damage, and use caution when shoveling snow. Stop a half an inch (1.27 cm) before the surface, and don’t dig down with sharp blows into the ice.

#6 Water

Water is one of the worst enemies for a healthy driveway. If it pools in close proximity, it can cause the entire bedrock to become saturated and deteriorate. Rainwater can wash away the soil beneath the driveway and cause it to sink or slope.

What to do: If you haven’t installed your driveway yet, have the contractor put it in a location away from where water drains. In the same vein, be sure to remove snow and ice from your driveway as soon as possible so that the melted ice doesn’t cause damage.

#7 Tree Roots

Trees are a beautiful addition to your property, but if they're too close to the driveway, roots can destroy the entire project from down below. The roots push against the foundation of the driveway as they grow, forcing the cement to give way. This results in surface cracks along your concrete driveway.

What to do: Fortunately, surrounding your driveway with tree root barriers can help prevent this problem from happening.

Everything You Need to Know About Heated Driveways

Everything You Need to Know About Heated Driveways

Everything You Need to Know About Heated Driveways

As winter approaches, at least in the more northerly portions of the U.S., many homeowners find themselves longing for a way to make snow and ice removal fast and easy, and heated driveway systems immediately come to mind.

Heated driveways are easiest to install when pouring a new concrete or asphalt driveway and often require you to replace your existing driveway. However, in some instances, the electric coil type can be retrofitted in, especially if you only intend to heat a limited portion of the pavement.

It is also typically best to install a heated driveway in the summertime, but as long as you are 30 days or more from winter, the newly poured pavement should have enough time to properly set.

The Two Types of Heated Driveways

There are two types of heated driveways, either of which can effectively melt snow and ice on your pavement, but each of which has its own specific advantages.

Hydronic systems employ PVC tubing, through which a heated water-antifreeze liquid circulates to heat the pavement above. A special boiler must be bought along with the tubing and the concrete work, which makes hydronic systems relatively expensive to install. However, they are cheaper to run than electric coil systems, despite having to be left on at all times in cold weather (regardless if snow is present) to prevent the tubes from freezing/cracking.

Radiant heat (electric coil) heated driveways operate by means of metal coils/panels that are installed in the concrete or asphalt pavement, wired, and plugged into a nearby outlet. The electric cables will be spaced at least two inches (5 cm) apart and buried a few inches below the pavement's surface. A special sensor will be installed to activate the cables through a control panel. You will have the ability to automate operation based on specified hours/days or based on a chosen temperature level. But you will still be able to manually override any programming when necessary.

Benefits of Heating Your Driveway

As compared to shoveling, using a snow blower, hiring a professional snowplow service, or using rock salt or another deicer, heated driveways offer the homeowner many important benefits, including these:

  • Virtually effortless operation. Everything can be run from a simple switch, and automation can make even flipping the switch unnecessary. There is also normally little to no maintenance needed, and you can enjoy the benefits for many years.

  • Improved safety. Whenever your heated driveway is turned on, snow melt-off will not refreeze on its surface. That means no more black ice. And, as you will not need to shovel snow anymore, the dangers of slipping and falling, getting frostbit, or being affected by hypothermia while doing so are eliminated.

  • Less pavement damage. Not having to use rock salt or other chemicals on your driveway will extend its lifespan by years and prevent repairs/resurfacing from being necessary as soon. This will save you money and keep your driveway in top shape for longer.

  • Save time and money. Besides preventing pavement damage, you will eliminate expenses such as maintaining a snowplow, paying for shoveling/plowing services, and buying bag after bag of (sometimes expensive) deicers. You also free up your time to do other things than shovel and sprinkle salt on your driveway.

  • Environmentally friendly. Deicers harm vegetation along your driveway's edge and can also get into local waterways and cause algae bloom. And animals, including cats, and dogs, can be negatively affected by consuming or walking on salt/salt-water slush. Heated driveways eliminate these concerns.

  • Increase your property value. Since heated driveways are so popular these days, they are a major selling point and a significant boost to the resale value of your home.

An Alternative Way to Heat Your Driveway

While heated driveways are extremely convenient and have many benefits, they are also quite expensive. If you have to tear up your existing driveway, it could easily cost $5,000 to $10,000 (approximately $6,720 to $13,440 CAD) to put one in. If you are already installing a new driveway anyway or if your old one is nearing its end, then it makes sense to put in a heated driveway, but few will want to tear up a newer driveway in perfectly good condition.

One solution would be to use driveway-grade snow-melting mats. Heating elements are sandwiched between two layers of slip-resistant rubber, and you plug the mats in to an ordinary outlet. You can automate them or turn them on/off manually, much like an electric coil heated driveway. The difference is the cost and the ability to simply put them into storage when winter is over.

Heated driveways, whether hydronic or electric coil, are an excellent way to keep the snow/ice off your driveway. For those averse to the high cost of heated driveways, however, snow-melting mats are a viable alternative.

Garage floor damaged by de-icers? Here's how to repair it

Garage floor damaged by de-icers? Here's how to repair it

Garage floor damaged by de-icers? Here's how to repair it

If you live in a snowy climate and routinely park your vehicle inside a garage, you know that winter weather impacts more than just your driveway and outdoor pavements. It also affects garage flooring by leaving salt stains and other marks on the concrete surface.

Below, we take a look at how de-icing agents get inside your garage and do damage to the concrete flooring, how to repair the damage already done, and how to prevent the damage from recurring.

How de-icers damage your garage floor

Calcium chloride, rock salt, and other municipal de-icers make it possible to drive on a highway in a matter of hours, instead of days, after a major winter storm. While a great convenience, these “road salts” also have their ill effects, however. As you drive, they attach themselves to the treads of your tires, splatter up and hit the “vulnerable underbelly” of your vehicle, and remain there until drying enough to fall back down.

Thus, you inadvertently bring in de-icing salts with you when your park your car inside your garage. These salts contact your garage floor and seep into (or get rubbed in by tires and feet) the porous surface of your concrete.

Once inside, salts draw extra moisture into the concrete and saturate it. When the temperature in your garage drops too low, this moisture freezes despite the presence of de-icers, creating upward and inward pressure as the freezing water expands and leading to flaking and even cracking of the garage floor. The more the temperature fluctuates during the winter, the more frequently this freeze-thaw cycle will take place.

In addition, when the moisture trapped inside your garage floor finally evaporates, it can leave unsightly salt stains behind.

How to repair your garage floor after de-icer damage

To remove any salt stains left behind (normally in the spring when the moisture has evaporated from the concrete), first, thoroughly clean the garage floor. This will expose all areas that need attention. Then, mix a cup of vinegar and a little dish soap into a gallon of water, and wet and scrub each stain with a tough-bristled brush. Afterward, take up the water puddle with a dry mop or a wet-vac. Finally, rinse away the soapy residue with a little water.

Be aware that if you rinse with water before using the wet-vac or mop, or if you power-wash, the de-icing salts may get pushed back into the pores of the concrete and continue to give you trouble later on.

You can also buy ready-made products to clean salt stains rather than using the home-made vinegar-water-soap solution. And for especially difficult stains, you may need to use a weak hydrochloric acid solution (1 unit acid per 20 units water).

Finally, you can repair flaking with a polymer-modified cement, which will create a stronger bond and a cleaner finish than can ordinary cement patch. For cracks, look for an epoxy, poly-urea, or poly-urethane-based crack filler to ensure it can be sanded down flush to the floor, painted, and will not shrink (water or latex based crack fillers cannot be sanded, cannot be painted, and will ultimately shrink and re-expose the crack).

How to prevent garage floor damage from recurring

There are a number of ways to help prevent de-icers from getting on and into your garage floor and damaging it. First, you can apply a "penetration sealer" that will keep any salts that get on your floor from seeping inside. A topical sealer across the whole garage floor and the use of ordinary floor mats can also help.

And, simple steps like cleaning your garage floor immediately after a storm or after driving out on a salty road, and rinsing off your tires using a water hose before entering the garage, will also help.

However, you could also use a driveway-grade snow-melt mat inside your garage and/or out on your driveway to keep snow/ice melted without resorting to the use of de-icing salts. It is a shame to think that a portion of the salt crystals damaging your floor came not from the highway but from your driveway (and that you put them there yourself to melt the snow and ice!) You might also eliminate use of snow-melting salts by installing a heated driveway, but that would be a more expensive route to go and could require you to tear up your existing pavement.

After de-icers have already damaged your concrete garage floor, you can learn how to make the necessary repairs and save the floor, but to prevent the damage from returning every winter, you need to give you floor extra protection and minimize use of de-icers at home in your driveway.