Like it or not, winter is coming. You can expect plenty of frigid temperatures, slick ice, bitter winds and deep snow. Although you might spend the winter months bundled up indoors, your driveway stays exposed to the elements all season long. Weeks upon weeks of winter weather can really do a number on your surface.
It's up to you to protect your driveway as best you can. The ideal time to begin your winter driveway maintenance is before the snow hits. Advance preparations will increase the chances that you'll still have a strong driveway next spring.
Clean Your Driveway
The first step to winter driveway maintenance is getting your surface spic and span. Head outside with work gloves and a push broom. Pick up fallen branches and sweep away leaves and other debris.
Once you've removed sticks and leaves, give your driveway a good wash. Spraying it down with a pressure washer can help loosen dirt and grime. For set-in stains, you may need to apply a chemical stain remover.
While you're cleaning your driveway, keep an eye out for any cracks or other damage. Make note of where they are because the next step in your winter preparations will be to take care of those spots.
Address Pavement Cracks
Broken areas of your driveway make the pavement susceptible to water damage. Rainwater or melting snow can seep through the cracks. When the temperature drops, that moisture will freeze.
Water expands as it freezes. That expansion can put pressure on your pavement from the inside out and cause the material to shift out of place. When the beneath-the-surface ice eventually melts, the pavement will remain displaced. If you step or drive on that spot, the surface is likely to buckle. You'll end up with larger cracks than you had at the beginning of winter.
To avoid this sort of trouble, before winter hits, take care of any cracks or holes that are already present. Although you may be able to fill some small cracks yourself, you'll get the best, longest-lasting results if you hire professional pavers for the job. The longevity that comes from quality crack repair makes hiring a pro worth every penny.
To learn more about the benefits of professional repairs over DIY jobs, watch the following video:
Apply Driveway Sealant
Sealing your driveway gives it a protective coat. The sealant can fill tiny cracks. It may also help prevent damage from de-icing chemicals.
Sealant should be applied after cracks and other damages have been repaired. As with crack-filling, it's easiest and most reliable to leave this job to professionals.
Although sealing your driveway is an important part of driveway protection, it's not something that you have to do every year. Your asphalt surface should be treated every two or three years.
If it's been a few years since yours last received a new coat of sealant, it's a good idea to add that job to your pre-winter checklist.
Level the Ground
Poor drainage and sunken depressions can cause melted snow to pool on your driveway. When the weather dips back below freezing, those puddles may turn into ice slicks.
If your driveway is prone to standing water, have a professional driveway company take a look at it before winter arrives. The pavers can recommend leveling repairs, such as filling depressions, that will keep water from lingering on your driveway.
Inspect Your Tools
Once you've cleaned, repaired and sealed your driveway, you're almost ready for the snow to start falling. But before that happens, it's a good idea to make sure you have the right equipment in place.
You've had the same metal shovel in your garage for a few decades now, so you're set, correct? You might want to rethink that plan before winter hits. Shovels wear out over time. Chipped or cracked blades can damage your driveway.
If you're in the market for a new shovel, consider carefully which one to buy. Metal blades can scrape up driveways and other surfaces. Plastic shovels remove snow more gently.
Granted, plastic blades aren't as effective at breaking up ice or packed-down snow. However, as long as you keep up with your shoveling, that shouldn't be too much of a problem.
Stock Up on Ice Melt
When you visit your local hardware store, you'll probably have many ice melt products from which to choose. Not all de-icers are created equal, though. To keep your driveway in good shape, you need to pick the right type.
The most popular ice melt is rock salt, also known as sodium chloride. Rock salt can be quite harsh on driveways. Calcium chloride, a common alternative, may not be much better. Instead, try potassium chloride or magnesium calcium acetate.
For an even less damaging approach, sprinkle kitty litter or sand on the driveway. These products won't melt the ice, but they will improve traction.
Clearing snow quickly is an important part of winter driveway care. Small driveways aren't bad to shovel, but large driveways, especially ones on commercial properties, can be a daunting task.
Instead of relying on your own strength, turn to professional snow removers for your big driveway. Just be sure to line up a company ahead of time. You'll get faster service if you have a pre-arranged contract than if you try calling on the day of a big snow.
Is your driveway ready for winter? After you follow these seven winter driveway maintenance steps, it will be! You'll first need to clean, repair, seal and level your driveway as needed. Then, make sure you have your winter essentials: a good shovel, a safe de-icer and a snow-removal company.
Could your driveway use professional repairs, sealcoating or leveling in the Bellport, New York area? Call Palermo Paving to discuss how we can help you get your driveway ready for winter.