Asphalt or bitumen is very strong and should last for many years after it's been poured. It's durable under all sorts of traffic conditions and is relatively affordable, which may be why so many homeowners choose this material for a home's driveway. While the material should last for many years before it needs to be replaced or suffers major damage, very often the way you maintain your asphalt driveway will affect how long it lasts and its overall condition. Note a few simple but very important tips for keeping the asphalt in good condition.
1. Avoiding fluids
Because asphalt is a petroleum-based product, you want to avoid getting automotive fluids of any sort on the surface. This includes gas, oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and the like. These fluids will break down the petroleum in asphalt and encourage cracks and other such damage.
2. Clean it
Cleaning your driveway regularly will help to remove anything that could cause damage, including residual fluids, salt that is spread during wintertime, lawn care chemicals, and the like. Hosing off the driveway may not be enough; get it wet and then use a stiff-bristled broom and a cleanser meant for cleaning asphalt in particular. Avoid ammonia as this can break down the material and cause erosion. Be sure you rinse the detergent away thoroughly after cleaning.
3. Repair cracks
Repairing small cracks can mean less worry about those cracks becoming bigger and more difficult to repair, and allowing water to seep in under the surface of asphalt, softening the ground and causing the asphalt to shift. Use a cold crack filler for small, hairline cracks but a hot filler for larger cracks and for when you can see the underside of the asphalt. The hot filler will adhere to the old asphalt more readily so that those larger cracks are better repaired.
4. Seal coating
How do you know when asphalt needs a new coat of sealant? When the color of the asphalt begins to turn grey, this means it has gotten old and the liquids in the asphalt that keep it soft and pliable have started to evaporate. In turn, the material is more brittle and more likely to crack under traffic and just due to age. When you notice the asphalt turning grey, you want to have it sealed. Coal tar sealers are usually best for asphalt because they provide a strong surface that holds up well against traffic, weather, and damaging materials like water and other fluids.
For more information, contact an asphalt and bitumen repair company.