Despite the durability of asphalt, it's not without its vulnerabilities. Weather, age, traffic, and other hazards can cause wear and tear on the surface. In addition, water beneath the surface can lead to frost heaves when the temperatures drop. To keep your asphalt driveway in its best condition, you need to understand how to maintain it. Here are a few steps to help you deal with damage.
Clean It Before You Work
If the area where you're working is dirty, the layer of dirt will interfere with the adhesion of the patch. Clean the area completely with a hose or something similar, then let it dry completely before you proceed. While you're at it, get rid of any weeds in the asphalt cracks. Weed roots will grow, potentially causing further damage from beneath the asphalt surface.
Doing Small Repairs
For areas with small cracks or potholes that are small and shallow, a quick cold patch is the best way to go. Cold-mix asphalt patches are quick and easy to use. Check the depth of the crack or hole. If it's deeper than the sublayer or you can see the foundation gravel, you'll want to fill the space with a little gravel to level the foundation again.
Use a torch or something similar to warm the asphalt around the area where you'll be working. The edges are sufficient. The goal is to just soften it so the cold mix will adhere. Put enough cold patch in the space to fill it completely and mound it up slightly. Then, pack it all down with a tamper. Make sure it's well packed because that contributes to stability once it's cured.
Addressing Bigger Problems
If the asphalt you're working with is heavily damaged with either large sections missing, deep potholes, or other similar problems, you'll need more than what a cold-mix asphalt can provide. In those cases, it's in your best interest to talk with an asphalt contractor about a patch. An asphalt patch that's applied hot will fill in larger gaps and holes. The asphalt contractor can also tell you if the damage is severe enough to cause lasting issues, like moisture under the asphalt or erosion of the foundation. Those things should be addressed at the same time.
Asphalt can last for years when you take good care of it. Keeping it sealed and clean are two great steps. With the information here, you can also be better equipped to deal smaller damage spots if they do happen. Just as important as knowing how to do the repairs, though, is knowing when those repairs should be left to a professional. Talk with a local asphalt repair contractor if you're not sure.