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3 Early Causes of Driveway Cracks

There are many different types of materials that you can use when it comes to driveways. Two of the most common materials are concrete and asphalt. When installed and cured properly, concrete driveways have the ability to last as long as 30 years, if not longer. The longevity of a concrete driveway also has a lot to do with the region it is installed in, as well as how well you maintain it.

While concrete is aesthetically pleasing, durable, and cost-effective, cracks can occur in concrete driveways — even in newer ones. However, new concrete driveways should not suffer cracks, as long as they are installed properly and there are no surface problems. As a general rule, cracks in concrete won’t occur until much further down the road.

If cracks do present themselves in new concrete driveways, there are explainable reasons why these cracks have occurred, and most of them are 100 percent preventable. Here is a brief look at a few of the most common causes of early deterioration and cracking of concrete driveways.

1. Poorly Constructed Foundation/Subbase

One of the most frequent causes of concrete driveway cracks continues to be improper installation. As a general rule, this is due to a poorly constructed foundation/subbase. Some contractors rush their projects so that they can get to their next one, which keeps them from worrying about properly packing down the base as they need to. Some contractors may not even use the proper materials for a subbase, resulting in uneven pressure and eventually cracks in the concrete surface.

This is why it is so important that homeowners take their time in choosing a concrete contractor to install their driveway. Don’t hesitate to ask for a contractor’s credentials or references. If they are hesitant to provide this information, then you should be hesitant to work with them.

2. Tree Root Invasion

Similar to the way that the freeze-thaw cycle can cause damage to your concrete driveway due to the significant pressure that it adds, growing tree roots can give you the same problem. Over time, the roots will grow and apply pressure on various parts of your driveway’s foundation. Eventually, the pressure will be relieved by cracks forming in the concrete’s surface.

Thicker concrete that has enhanced reinforcement measures can resist the pressure from the tree roots. However, the best solution is to install tree root barriers that will prevent the tree roots from reaching your concrete driveway. This should ideally apply to both sides of your driveway. If you have an overly aggressive tree, you may want to consider speaking to an arborist about having it removed.

3. Use of Salt

When the roads get bad during the winter, the city or county will apply salt to help vehicles maintain traction while driving. It is not uncommon at all for homeowners to apply this same salt, or a similar type of salt, to their concrete driveways in order to gain traction and/or to melt ice that has formed on the driveway.

Unfortunately, salt can do significant damage to concrete. One way it does this is through the freeze-thaw cycle because the salt melts the ice, turning it into a water/slush mixture that can seep into your concrete where it can freeze. When it freezes, it will expand and result in cracks.

Then, of course, you have to consider the salt water mixture that results from this entire process. As it penetrates the concrete surface, it will attract more water, creating an even larger expansion once temperatures dip below freezing.

Your best alternative is to use sand or kitty litter underneath your tires instead of salt. Neither one of these will do damage to your concrete driveway, yet they will both help you get the traction that you need.

If you are interested in working with a professional and reputable concrete contractor for the installation or repair of a concrete driveway, contact Bayshore Construction Waterproofing & Foundation.

For more information on our foundation repair services, contact Bayshore Construction, Waterproofing & Foundation we provide free estimates.