You’ve just had your driveway paved, that fresh, black asphalt shining in the sun. But wait…was that crack there before? Is it supposed to be settling like that?
Unfortunately, there are a number of troublesome problems that can affect driveways.
Some of the most common new asphalt driveway issues are:
- Water-filled depressions
- Asphalt upheaval
- Surface breakdown (“raveling”)
- Longitudinal cracking
- Edge cracking
- Crescent cracking
- Fatigue cracking (“alligator” cracking)
- Block cracking
- Reflective cracking
In this article, you’ll learn about the warning signs of these new asphalt driveway issues, as well as how you can fix them and properly care for your new pavement overall.
10 Kinds of New Asphalt Driveway Issues to Recognize
It’s important that you be able to recognize a potential problem with your new asphalt quickly. This fast awareness is key to ensuring the problem can be effectively resolved. Here are ten signs that your new driveway is in trouble and what you need to look out for.
After briefly explaining each of these ten problems, we’ll dig into how they can be fixed. Just keep reading!
Issue #1: Water-Filled Depressions
Water pooling in low or sunken-in areas of your asphalt is almost always a bad sign. In the case of new asphalt driveways, these depressions in the pavement form as a result of the asphalt not being fully compacted during the paving process.
It’s important to treat this issue with your asphalt early, as lack of remediation can compromise the asphalt’s surface and weaken the integrity of your driveway overall.
Issue #2: Potholes
Similar to depressions, potholes indicate that your asphalt has been subjected to bad weather and possibly standing water during or shortly after the paving process.
Standing water and poor weather conditions can cause chunks of asphalt to dislodge from the pavement’s surface. The resulting potholes are not only an eyesore for your driveway, but they can also cause considerable harm to your vehicles and their tires.
Issue #3: Asphalt Upheaval
Upheaval in a section of pavement is caused when the soil beneath your asphalt expands. This expansion often occurs when either an increase in moisture fills the soil or water freezes into ice in the ground, expanding the ground as it does so.
The expansion of the ground pushes against the asphalt, which causes the sub-grade to swell and move upward, thus causing the upheaval in your pavement.
Issue #4: Surface Breakdown (“Raveling”)
Raveling occurs when the particles of your asphalt’s surface begin to break down and crumble away. Like many of the other new asphalt driveway issues we’ll cover here, standing water can be a contributor to this breakdown.
The chunky, uneven texture indicative of asphalt raveling is the result of left behind debris and grit.
Issue #5: Longitudinal Cracking
As the name suggests, longitudinal cracks in your driveway are cracks that run lengthwise through your pavement, in the same direction in which the asphalt was applied (so, long-ways down your driveway, not across from side-to-side).
Longitudinal cracking occurs when the asphalt shrinks, which can happen when temperatures drop significantly. It’s for this reason that many professional asphalt pavers prefer to lay new driveways in summer.
Issue #6: Edge Cracking
Edge cracks develop under the pressure of heavy traffic loads concentrated near the sides of your pavement. Therefore, edge cracking is indicated by cracks appearing in your asphalt along the very edges of your driveway.
While this is typically a more common occurrence on rural roads, you could see signs of edge cracking in your new driveway if you park a heavy vehicle near the border of the new pavement.
Issue #7: Crescent Cracking
Asphalt cracking that occurs in crescent-shaped patterns across new pavement is usually indicative of low-quality bonding agents used below the asphalt’s surface.
This problem is also called “slippage” cracking, and it resembles puddle-like waves of cracks on the pavement’s surface.
Issue #8: Fatigue Cracking (“Alligator” Cracking)
So-called for the scale-shaped patterns created by their intersecting lines, “alligator” cracks are caused by a combination of asphalt issues.
Most often, this kind of fatigue cracking occurs when weak sub-grade is overloaded with heavy traffic. Therefore, alligator cracking is the compounded result of both too-heavy a load and poor sub-grade materials.
Issue #9: Block Cracking
Block cracking is cracking that occurs in large rectangular or square sections. The rectangular patterns created by these cracks often measure a foot or more across, and can occur no matter how much or how little traffic the pavement is subjected to.
Block cracking is likely to occur in the event that an old or dried-out batch of asphalt was used in the paving process. Alternatively, it can also occur if the asphalt binder used in the pavement is unable to expand and contract with fluctuations in outdoor temperatures.
Issue #10: Reflective Cracking
Last, but not the least of your asphalt problems to be concerned about, reflective cracks are cracks mirrored in your new asphalt from the underlying pavement you likely had resurfaced.
This means that the cracks existing in the old surface of your driveway have affected the new asphalt, reflecting the same cracks in the new pavement. While many people think that they can simply pave over old asphalt issues to fix them, reflective cracking shows us that this isn’t always the case.
Each of these ten warning signs could mean bad news for your pavement. To ensure your new asphalt driveway issues are addressed correctly, be sure to speak to a professional if you notice one or more of these problems with your asphalt.
How to Fix Common New Asphalt Driveway Issues: 7 Solutions
Though we’ve listed off nearly a dozen issues here that can affect a new asphalt driveway, the remedies to many of these problems come back to about half-a-dozen key solutions.
In general, there are seven ways to fix most new asphalt driveway issues:
- Full-depth asphalt patch. This is one of the more intensive remedial procedures that exist for asphalt problems. This solution involves removing and repaving the asphalt’s surface, intermediate and base course layers.
- Surface patch. A less-complicated patching job, this solution may require as little work as applying a ready-to-use asphalt repair patch over your pavement’s imperfection. Typically, this solution is only effective for small driveway repairs.
- Pavement removal. This is often a step in the asphalt repair process, rather than a solution of its own, but disposal of the faulty pavement is often necessary to remove the existing issue before the problems with your asphalt can be fully remedied.
- Sub-grade replacement. This asphalt fix involves removing the affected pavement and replacing the sub-grade below it. Generally, a full-depth asphalt patch is then applied on top of the repaired sub-grade material.
- Base-strengthening. This repair solution will need to be executed by trained paving professionals, as strengthening the asphalt’s base is likely to require expert knowledge of ideal paving base materials and thicknesses.
- Sealcoating. This fix relies on applying a protective sealant to asphalt cracks. This solution is most appropriate for minor driveway issues, or as a short-term solution to asphalt problems whose correction will take longer to organize.
- Drainage installation. One of the major causes of new asphalt driveway issues, poor water drainage should be corrected as soon as possible. Standing water can deteriorate your asphalt and cause worsening issues for your driveway over time. By installing the appropriate drainage systems on your property, you can avoid many future problems with your driveway.
How to Care For a Newly Paved Driveway
While some driveway issues can only be avoided through the use of a careful and professional asphalt contractor, other issues like general wear and tear over time can be prevented through regular care and maintenance.
To make sure your new driveway lasts as long as possible and ensure that you get your money’s worth out of it, there are a few general recommendations that new driveway customers should adhere to.
To care for a new asphalt driveway, follow these best practices:
- Fix all potential issues with your asphalt as soon as possible. This prevents more complicated problems later on. While it can be tempting to put off fixing that crack until next week or the week after, such issues have a tendency to cause further complications if they aren’t resolved quickly.
- Be mindful of driving roughly on hot days. When temperatures heat up, the top layer of your asphalt can become malleable again. Prevent tire tracking in your driveway by driving carefully over your asphalt on such days.
- Have a knowledgeable professional inspect your asphalt regularly. A quick bi-annual inspection of your driveway can save you time and money in the long-term. Professionals know what to look for and can point out potential pavement issues before they cause problems.
- Avoid turning your steering wheel while your vehicle is at rest. Maneuvering your steering while your vehicle is parked can cause power steering divots in your new asphalt. To avoid this, it’s best to only turn your steering wheel when reversing or driving.
- Have a proper drainage system in place. Standing water is one of the leading causes of asphalt deterioration. By rerouting water away from your driveway, you’ll ensure your asphalt lasts longer.
- Restrict heavy-volume and high-volume traffic. Heavy and frequent traffic loads can cause stress-related cracking in your asphalt. If you own an RV, camper, boat or trailer, consider parking it elsewhere for the sake of your driveway. Likewise, if your trash collectors drive onto your driveway to dispose of your garbage each week, consider wheeling your bin out to the curb to save your asphalt from the weight of the collection truck.
- Clean up any accidental oil or fuel spills immediately. Spilling oil or gas onto fresh asphalt will not cause any structural damage to your new driveway but, if left to sit on the asphalt for a prolonged period of time, these spills could stain the asphalt. Clean them up quickly to be safe.
Prioritizing the care of your driveway can require considerable attention to detail, but it will prevent issues with your new asphalt in the long run and help it reach its full lifespan. This brings us to our next bit of information.
How Long Should Asphalt Driveways Last?
If you follow the asphalt care tips mentioned in this article, it’s conceivable that your new driveway could last as long as 25-30 years. However, even the most conscientious of driveway owners can only do so much if their asphalt wasn’t laid properly from the start.
To make sure that your investment in your property is worth it, make sure you choose a paving contractor with a good reputation and expert-level industry knowledge.
If you notice any of the new asphalt driveway issues discussed above in your own pavement, the key to extending the life of your driveway will be to address those issues as soon as possible.
Can I Redo My Own Driveway?
In short, you could, but we wouldn’t recommend it.
As the plethora of new asphalt driveway issues covered here reveals, there are many things that can go awry when paving a driveway. Everything from the time of year, to sub-grade materials used, to the quality of bonding agents impacts the end product of your asphalt.
While many do-it-yourself hopefuls are tempted to tackle such an undertaking themselves, this is one home improvement project that’s best left to the professionals. At best, it would be wise to do no more than handle the installment of a surface patch while you wait for an appointment with a proper driveway expert.
However, if you want to learn more about the ins and outs of asphalt and new driveways, you can find this information and more among our other expert advice articles.