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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.

Got Gravel? Removing Snow from a Gravel Driveway

Got Gravel? Removing Snow from a Gravel Driveway

Got Gravel? Removing Snow from a Gravel Driveway

Snow removal can take over your winter – it is time-consuming, and can be back-breaking work, depending on the storm. And when your driveway is made of gravel, you must take extra care to make sure that your shoveling doesn’t destroy your driveway – driveway repair can be costly!

The Challenge

The problem is that you want your driveway clear of snow, but you don’t want to clear away your gravel in the process of removing the snow. So the question is: is there a way to get rid of the snow without harming your driveway? In fact, there are several ways.

The Usual Solutions

You can remove snow from gravel driveways in a variety of ways that go far beyond your trusty shovel. Consider the following approaches:

1. A leaf blower or snow blower. A regular leaf blower enables you to remove light, dry snow very easily, which means that there will be storms where a leaf blower is the only tool you’ll need to clear your driveway. For heavier storms, you'll need to get out your snow blower, though this isn't an option for most people who rule these out due to their size, price, and need for fresh gasoline.

2. A regular shovel. When it comes to wet snow, you can’t just blow it away, but with a regular (not snow) shovel, you’ll be able to remove the snow in layers. Stop when you have about an inch of snow left, so that bottom layer of gravel remains where it belongs, on the ground.

3. A rake. A sturdy garden rake can do more than you realize when it comes to driveway snow removal. When the head of a rake is heavy and the tines of a rake are about an inch apart, the rake is an effective tool for breaking up dense, compacted snow. You might take a little gravel with you, but nearly all of it should remain in place on the driveway.

4. Salt. The idea of using salt is to melt as much of the snow that other methods haven’t removed, preventing the formation of ice, and leaving all gravel intact.

Melting Away the Snow for Gravel Driveways

As we said, there are the usual snow removal methods…and then there’s the new, innovative idea of melting the snow before it has a chance to accumulate.

1. Radiant flooring. One way to eliminate the need for snow removal is inground radiant heating, or heated driveways, where the snow basically meets a warm floor and melts. The downside? The cost! Even though the one-time installation is both logical and efficient, underground heating remains a luxury at $14 - $24 per square foot (approximately $201.50 - $345.43 CAD per square meter), at least for the time being. But it holds widespread appeal, especially for those who have not yet laid their gravel driveways (or, more popularly, their concrete driveways).

2. Snow-melting mats. There is also a more affordable option of melting snow before it accumulates, and that's with the help of heated mats. Industrial mats can be laid directly on your gravel driveway for safe and snow- and ice-free driving (the residential mats are meant only for walkways – not for driving on).

How Do Snow-Melting Mats Work?

These mats are made of customized thermoplastic material and generate enough heat to melt snow at a rate of 2 inches (5 cm) per hour (in a substantial snowstorm, it is not uncommon to see snow fall at a rate of 1 - 2 inches/hour (2.54 - 5 cm/hour); when snowfall reaches 3 - 5 inches/hour (7.62 - 12.7 cm/hour), the storm is unusually strong or fast). Because you leave the mats outside all day, every day of the winter, your walkways remain clear throughout the winter.

The mats use water-tight connector cables, which means that they can be interconnected to make a continuous walkway around your house and use only one plug.

The driveway mats cost a fraction of the cost of inground radiant heating and entail even less exertion when compared to shoveling or any of the other methods above. Turn the mats on when a storm begins, and turn it off when snowfall has stopped. Alternatively, an energy efficient thermostat or snow sensor conserves both your electricity and your physical efforts by turning on the mats automatically. Roll up the mats and store them during non-snowy seasons.

Shoveling snow can truly become a thing of the past. Look into the possibilities of Snow-Melting Mats for your driveway today.