How to Protect Your Driveway During Winter

Winter weather can wreak havoc on your property, from the roof and gutters to the driveway. To avoid extensive repairs in the spring, keep the following factors in mind throughout the season.

Remove Debris From the Area

Keep your driveway clear to reduce trip hazards and streamline any snow plowing. Start by removing branches, leaves and twigs from the surface. Follow this by power washing the asphalt or concrete to dislodge any accumulated dirt, grime and finer debris.

As a final step, consider replanting trees and shrubs away from your driveway. Otherwise, you risk having roots grow underneath, which could crack the material or cause bulges to form on the surface.

Seal Your Driveway

Recommended every two to five years, sealing the driveway protects and fortifies the asphalt or concrete against crumbling that could result in an uneven, rough surface or contribute to potholes. Based on your DIY skills, you can do this on your own or have a professional apply the coating.

Clean Up Spills and Stains

Exposure to oils, chemicals and leaves can mar the visual appearance of your driveway and even affect its integrity. Based on the material, clean up any spills or puddles right away to keep the substance from seeping in and causing discoloration. You may need to use a spill clean-up kit, pressure washer or leaf blower to fully remove the substance.

Schedule Repairs

If you see any cracks, don’t ignore them. Cracks can be a sign of aging, indicate an issue with the material or installation, or may result from moisture that has seeped into your driveway and expanded. Based on these factors:

  • Address hairline cracks when they form. The crack needs to be sealed as soon as possible and the driveway’s material coated with a protective sealant.
  • Deeper, more expansive cracks covering a wider part of the surface can indicate poor installation or defective materials.
  • If you spot cracks forming during winter, the material may have absorbed moisture from rain, snow or ice. Cold temperatures can cause the moisture to expand and the asphalt or concrete may then chip, crack or shift.

Establish a Snow and Ice Removal Routine

Even when you do everything right before and during winter, improper snow and ice removal can damage your driveway’s appearance. To avoid this:

  • Remove any snow accumulation shortly after it falls. Otherwise, the snow can become compacted and heavier to shovel or snow blow.
  • Check for drainage issues, including water accumulating on your driveway or having a gutter or downspout discharge directly on to the driveway. In this case, the standing water turns to ice or can seep into the material and expand once it freezes. Ideally, get your ground level prior to winter if your property experiences this issue.
  • Avoid scattering corrosive rock salt onto your driveway, as it can cause asphalt and concrete to erode at a faster pace. Instead, use kitty litter or sand if you need traction or consider calcium chloride if your driveway is at least a year old.
  • The blade of a shovel or plow can damage the surface of your driveway, especially it’s asphalt. In these cases, use a plastic rather than metal shovel and avoid having the blade directly touch the ground. If you decide to use a plow, keep the blade above the driveway’s surface to avoid scrapes and more serious damage.
  • If you’re shoveling by hand, use a scooping motion, and avoid puncturing or cutting through ice with the blade. If you need to break through ice, use an ice chopper or pick to tap the surface.

Avoid Leaving Out Heavy Equipment

This includes construction equipment, as well as commercial vehicles. The material and ground are not strong enough to handle repeat exposure to this degree of weight and may start to wear or sink in.

Are you preparing your driveway for the upcoming winter season Make sure you have sufficient homeowners coverage. Contact a HUB/Ion Insurance agent to discuss your policy!