Guide to driveway maintenance for all seasons
Besides being one of the most used parts of your home, your driveway is the gateway to your home and the first thing people see when they visit your property. This is why you need to make sure your driveway is maintained and in great condition. But, more importantly, you need to take proactive steps to keep it from deteriorating.
In this article, we will provide some valuable tips to help you keep your driveway in pristine condition based on weather conditions throughout the year.
The importance of driveway maintenance
There are many reasons you should maintain your driveway. First and foremost, keeping your driveway in good condition enhances the aesthetics of your home and makes it more visually appealing to you and visitors. A well-maintained driveway also comes in handy when showing your property to prospective buyers. Especially buyers who are looking for low-maintenance properties.
Besides the aesthetic aspect, maintenance is a crucial cost-saving measure. Maintenance can help homeowners avoid significant driveway repair costs in the future. For instance, ignoring small cracks and potholes can result in extensive damage to your asphalt driveway, which may require major and costly repairs or even a new driveway installation. Routine maintenance could save you thousands of dollars down the line in unexpected repairs.
Fixing minor damage is not the only thing you should do as part of your maintenance routine. In fact, regular cleaning is also needed to maintain asphalt and concrete driveways, as oil and dirt can accumulate over the years, causing irreparable damage and staining to your driveway paving.
Safety is another factor to consider. A cracked surface or a large pothole poses a tripping hazard to everyone in your home and might lead to serious injuries if not fixed in a timely manner.
Driveway maintenance tips by season
As you can guess, driveway maintenance requirements vary depending on the types of driveways and time of year. Below is an overview of the maintenance checklists required for each season of the year.
Spring driveway maintenance
Spring is the time of year where the damage caused by winter frost and rain becomes visible. This includes everything from cracks and potholes in the concrete to holes and dips in a gravel driveway. It is important to address these issues in the spring, as the summer heat can potentially exacerbate the damage.
Due to the strength of their construction material, concrete driveways are fairly low maintenance. However, not fixing minor damage can lead to costly, non-DIY-friendly concrete repairs. When checking your driveway, the major signs you should look out for are cracks, grass growing through the driveway, potholes and crumbling concrete.
There are several DIY maintenance tasks easily tackled in the spring. Caulk any noticeable cracks in the surface and seal every expansion joint regardless of the extent of the damage. Also, look for any low spots and use a resurfacer to level them out. In addition to the aforementioned tasks, be sure to clean the driveway regularly to limit moss and lichen growth.
The same approach should be applied to asphalt, gravel and paver driveways. Look closely for any sunken or damaged parts and check if the driveway is draining water properly when it rains. Consider patching potholes, repairing ruts and filling in the low areas on the surface.
Summer driveway maintenance
Summer heat can cause significant damage to your driveway. Asphalt driveways are especially prone to this, as the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can dry up the surface layer and cause it to crack under the weight of vehicles. To prevent this from happening, do not park in the same spot and limit vehicle movement on the driveway to avoid deforming the surface.
Thorough cleaning of the driveway is a critical maintenance task during the summer, as the heat can contribute to embedding oil leaks and other particles into the surface. Besides regular cleaning, consider laying a tarp when landscaping materials are delivered to your home to prevent dirt, mulch and other debris from getting into the small cracks.
Another maintenance tip you should put into action is to use sealcoating methods like SPF sealcoating. This is a defensive layer (just like the SPF in sunscreen) designed to deflect UV rays and reduce the effects of heat on your driveway.
Fall driveway maintenance
As summer makes way for fall, your driveway maintenance should shift to accommodate the change in seasons. The key here is to prepare your driveway for the winter weather. Fall conditions are relatively mild compared to winter, but winter is the time of year when water seeps into the cracks and frost penetrates small crevices on the surface.
One of the top items on your fall driveway maintenance checklist is pressure washing. This method of cleaning is especially effective on asphalt driveways, as it allows for the complete removal of dirt, debris, chemicals and any other corroding elements accumulated during the summer.
Next, focus on fixing any noticeable damage caused by exposure to the sun’s UV rays. This is the ideal time to seal cracks and patch small holes before they expand and create further problems in the winter. If you have an asphalt driveway, add sealcoating to your driveway — this will help create a protective layer against moisture and prepare the surface for the winter.
An important maintenance step you should take is to reinforce your driveway edges. Fall is the season when weed growth picks up. This poses a risk to your driveway because growth can cause cracks on the surface if left unchecked. To avoid this, invest in driveway edging, maintain weed growth and complement the existing paving by adding sturdy curbs around the driveway.
Winter driveway maintenance
Depending on where you live, winter can be the most critical time of the year for your driveway. Low temperatures and heavy rainfall can cause severe damage to all types of driveways if homeowners neglect to take the imperative maintenance steps before and during winter.
The primary focus when preparing your driveway for winter should center on reducing the effects of moisture. This starts with a thorough inspection of your drainage system to ensure water is flowing effectively and quickly through the surface. As part of your drainage inspection, you also need to make sure the gutter spouts are pointed away from the driveway. This is crucial for ensuring proper drainage during heavy rains and snowmelt periods.
But weather alone is not the only cause of damage to driveways in winter. In fact, many homeowners make the mistake of using corroding materials, such as rock salt, to clear snow off the surface. While effective in melting snow, these elements can cause serious damage to asphalt and concrete driveways. Instead, use safer alternatives like sand, cat litter and stone grits. There are also several non-chemical options available, with manual removal and hydronic heating systems being the most common and effective. It’s no fun shoveling snow, but it is better for your driveway in the long run.
Protect your home systems from major repairs with Cinch
Proper home maintenance can help you avoid a decent amount of costly home repairs. But maintenance alone is not sufficient to hedge against any unexpected issues or repairs to your home. In fact, the only way to protect your home from major, unexpected repairs is to have a home warranty plan in place. A perfect example of such a plan is a home protection plan from Cinch Home Services.
And while Cinch does not cover driveways, homeowners can still help protect many of their built-in systems and major appliances due to normal wear and tear. To learn more about our home warranty plans and how they can help you anticipate and manage home repairs or replacements, request a free quote today.