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During your daily commute you’ve probably noticed how you now have to brake more frequently for potholes—they seem to appear out of nowhere over the winter. Did you check on your driveway recently? The chances are good, it’s also starting to look a bit shabby. Winter, with all it’s snow, ice and below freezing temperatures, is just not good for the asphalt, especially if it had prior cracks. If you skipped seal-coating your driveway last year, you might end up with a spiderweb of cracks by the end of February. Is it time to call your Maryland paving company? Keep reading to see what your options are.

Why Winters Are so Tough on Roads

Maryland winters are not just cold, they can be wet too. When it rains, the water can seep underneath the pavement if it was improperly installed or it has cracks. Once it’s inside your driveway’s base, the water expands when it freezes, creating pressure and forming voids when it goes back into its liquid state. This is particularly an issue in loosely compacted bases or where sand or dirt was used as a base material instead of crushed stone.

Another winter enemy of your driveway is salt (or any ice-melting product). Salt will speed up the freezing/melting cycle of any surface water, and if your driveway isn’t properly sealed, this will cause the water to seep through its porous surface.

Repair or Replace?

So, what do you do with a cracked asphalt driveway? First of all, you need to understand that driveway cracks are normal. Considering the movement of the earth and the amount of stress your driveway endures, cracks are inevitable. However, you should be able to get several years out of your driveway before it starts to crack. If it’s a new driveway that was laid in the past year and it’s already cracking, it’s possible your paving contractors did a bad job.

No matter how old your driveway is when it first cracks, it’s important to seal the cracks. If you leave them as is, after a few harsh winters your driveway will fall apart. For older driveways (10 years and older), you may depending on the asphalt’s condition. If it’s visibly crumbling away on the sides or the cracks are too wide to seal, patching will do little to help the situation.

For newer driveways that are cracking prematurely, you can try seal-coating and monitoring the condition. If new cracks keep popping up every month, this is something to be alarmed about. It might be more financially reasonable to redo your driveway instead of continuing to sink money into temporary fixes.

Decide Before Spring

Regardless of whether your driveway is cracked or not, as Maryland paving contractors we recommend seal-coating it in the spring. What many homeowners don’t know is that the sun can be just as harsh on asphalt as the winter’s thawing and freezing cycles. The sun causes binding oils from the asphalt to evaporate, which dries the surface out and also leads to cracks.

If you need help assessing the condition of your driveway, 1-855-Got-Paving will be happy to give you our professional opinion. Just give us a call or contact us online and we’ll be happy to come out and take a look. Spring is our busy season, so feel free to book us ahead of time!