Soon enough we’ll all be looking out at another winter wonderland, but along with its beauty, we’ll have to battle everything else that goes with it, including sleet, heavy snow and ice. It’s tough to stay ahead of these harsh conditions, but it’s imperative to do so, especially when it comes to the driveway.
During the summer months, your driveway may have already suffered from erosion due to heavy rains, which can cause the dirt and stone to wash away your driveway’s foundation. So, while the weather is still relatively mild, the time is right to do what you can to clean it up.
Damage caused by winter weather can easily become extensive, leading to cracked pavement or corrosion. Luckily, there are several ways to prevent these issues.
Keep your driveway as clean and tidy as possible leading up to winter. Make sure to clear away excess dirt, stones, leaves and twigs before the first snowfall. If left in your driveway, they can do permanent damage once they have the weight of snow and ice pressing down on them.
Oil and grit can also cause some deterioration to your driveway, especially when mixed with snow and ice. Power washing your driveway before winter hits is a great way to keep any chemicals from seeping in and eating away at the sealant so there won’t be any problems.
Tom Call, owner of Tom Call Excavation in Brattleboro, knows his way around a driveway or two. A skilled operator shaves time from your job, saving you money.
“The most harmful chemicals are petroleum products,” Call said.
During the winter, the freeze and thaw cycle creates a myriad of problems. If you don’t properly seal cracks, leaving them untouched and exposed throughout the winter months, it will only make things worse. When snow and ice thaw, they create water runoff that leaks through any cracks.
If the temperatures get cold again, that water runoff freezes and expands, making the cracks even bigger than before. The best way to avoid this is to seal the driveway in the fall. Generally, driveways and parking lots need sealant about once every three years as this helps to avoid costly patchwork later.
“Gravel or hard-packed surfaces suffer from damage because they’re not properly graded. Ideally, you’ll want to regrade and put a crown back in so water has access to ditches and culverts,” Call said. “Over time, wheel tracks create divots that won’t allow the water to drain.”
He suggested changing your driving pattern and to not follow the same tracks each time. Once the snow starts to fall, allow a good snowpack to form before removing snow in order to keep from digging up surface materials.
If you plan to use an ice melt on your driveway this winter, make sure to use the right kind. Ice melts that are calcium-based are going to be the best choice for concrete surfaces, seeing as they do little to no damage to surfaces.
For the eco-friendly, there are many options that you can find easily online, including a vinegar and water solution that can do the trick for smaller areas, but for larger driveways, plain old dirt is your best bet.
Whether you plan on using shovels, a snowblower or both to clear snow from your driveway, it’s a good idea to make sure they are in proper working condition and not damaged. Chipped shovels can scratch your driveway and even remove small chucks of asphalt or stone if they get caught in crevices, and poorly functioning snow blowers can underperform, making it more difficult to remove large amounts of snow and causing even more damage.
Driving long stakes into the perimeter of your driveway and walkway before it starts snowing will prevent snowplows or snowblowers from bearing down on the edges of the driveway and tearing into your landscaping – two things that are sure to cause damage if you’re not careful.
While these are general guidelines, the real preparation starts by maintaining your driveway all year-round. By doing preventative maintenance or repairing cracks when they appear, you’ll find that you have less to worry about, especially during the winter.
Tom Call Excavation of Brattleboro assists homeowners with their excavation needs in both Vermont and New Hampshire and can be reached at 802-384-1220. Visit online at tomcallexcavation.com.