7 Common Sense Tips for Maintaining Your Driveway

how to shovel snow

Driveways are one of the most used areas of your house, often overlooked until they stain or crack. Give them the attention they deserve by making repairs quickly. Not only can you extend your driveway’s life and attractive look well into the future, you can save money in the long term.
Consider these seven tips to help you care for your driveway:

1. Prevent cracks

For driveways, prevention means sealing concrete annually and sealing asphalt every few years to prevent water from penetrating, freezing and cracking. Tree and shrub roots can cause cracks by pushing up from underneath. The solution is to remove trees near drives or have their roots trimmed away.

2. Fill cracks

If cracks or holes do appear, patch them immediately. Use a masonry chisel to remove loose materials and brush out the debris before applying a crack filler and patching compound. After the compound dries, seal the entire driveway. Ensuring your driveway is smooth and level may also help reduce tripping accidents when guests visit your home.

3. Minimize water on the driveway

Clear a two to three-inch strip around the edges of the driveway to provide a runoff area for snow and water to reduce its chances of penetrating the surface. Also, ensure that downspouts empty into the yard rather than onto the driveway.

4. Don’t salt cement

Cement salt and chemical de-icers can penetrate surfaces, causing cracks. Both must be repaired. Instead of salting, use a snowblower or shovel to remove snow and use alternatives like sand, coffee grounds, alfalfa meal or kitty litter to make surfaces less slippery. To melt ice, consider spraying the surface with sugar beet juice, which lowers the melting point of ice and is considered effective in temperatures as low at -20°F.

5. Plow carefully

Raise the blade of your snow plow enough to ensure it doesn’t scrape and damage the driveway surface. If shoveling, use a plastic shovel for uneven surfaces to reduce its risk of catching on the driveway. Then, either push snow to the side and shovel that off or remove snow a few inches at a time while working your way earthward.

6. Protect the edges

Believe it or not, driveways aren’t designed for heavy trucks. Edges are particularly vulnerable, chipping under excessive weight. So make certain that your car is parked away from the edges and that construction vehicles never park there during house remodeling projects.

7. Clean your driveway

Removing stains caused by motor oil, radiator fluid and similar substances affects more than your drive’s appearance. Motor fluids can penetrate up to a quarter inch in concrete and can soften asphalt. Use non-clumping kitty litter to absorb fresh oil, followed by grease-cutting dishwashing detergent and warm water. For older stains, try scrubbing the stain repeatedly with grease-cutting, biodegradable cleaners. Be sure to use a regular scrub brush. A wire brush can damage the driveway’s surface.

Make the most of your home with a clean, well-maintained driveway. It not only enhances curb appeal, but simply lasts longer than drives that are ignored. A little maintenance now can bring big returns later. Learn more about how home insurance can help you protect your investment.