Have you noticed small cracks in your asphalt driveway? Cracking is bound to occur as driveways age and the materials undergo wear and tear. However, if your driveway is fairly new, cracking isn't normal. If you don't fill the gaps immediately, they will widen and develop into potholes. Potholes can affect driveway usability and diminish curb appeal. Therefore, note these four causes of cracks on asphalt driveways and tips on how to fix the damage.

Standing Surface Water

Does water occasionally stagnate in specific areas of your driveway? If so, it could be responsible for the damage. This is particularly the case if you didn't seal the driveway properly. In the absence of a quality sealant, standing water seeps through the asphalt surface and into the subsurface below it. The moisture gradually eats away at the foundation, leading to the creation of potholes and cracks. Once you repair your driveway, seal it properly to prevent moisture infiltration. Also, invest in a drainage system to redirect rainwater from the driveway.

Thermal Expansion

When there is extreme heat during the day, your asphalt driveway will absorb the heat and expand. At night, the temperatures drop, causing the driveway to contract. These expansion and contraction cycles stress the driveway, causing small cracks to appear. The problem can worsen if you already have gaps filled with water. As the water expands and contracts, it widens the cracks on the surface. Invest in a quality UV-resistant sealer to prevent stress cracks on the asphalt. UV-resistant sealers block heat absorption and protect the asphalt driveway from thermal expansion.

Oil And Petroleum Spills

Never leave oil and petroleum spills on your driveway. The chemicals in these products can dissolve the binder in the asphalt mix, causing large chunks of aggregate to break loose from the surface. This leaves behind cracks and minor depressions on the paving surface. Oil and petroleum can also deteriorate the sealant, allowing moisture to seep into the asphalt. Therefore, clean chemical spills immediately after they occur to prevent cracks on your driveway.

Heavy Vehicular Traffic

Residential asphalt driveways aren't designed to handle the weight of heavy equipment and machinery. Over time, heavy trucks and vehicles weaken the surface and cause depressions. They also cause small chunks of material to chip away from the surface, paving the way for further damage. If you intend to drive heavy equipment over asphalt, you must construct a sturdy sub-base and a thick surface layer that can handle the extra weight. If replacing the driveway isn't viable, limit heavy vehicular traffic on the paving.

Don't wait for cracks in the asphalt to widen, as they will cause extensive and costly damage to the driveway. Contact a paving contractor immediately for asphalt repairs.