Cold, wet winters wear down both asphalt and concrete driveways. Even the smallest cracks in the surface grow during this season. When water accumulates on the surface and flows down into these openings, it refreezes later. The expansion force created by the freezing water widens the cracks all winter long. If you don't want to find a series of bigger and more severe cracks in the spring, take the time to seal the cracks professionally in the fall.
Packing the Cracks
Any crack bigger than a hairline fracture needs a filler material to stop the crack from growing. Most paving contractors use a mix of tar and finely crushed gravel to fill the space. Acrylic concrete blends fill bigger cracks in concrete driveways. Without a solid material packed into it, the crack would continue to grow over the winter.
The driveway patching and crack sealing materials harden and dry best when temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Waiting until daytime ambient temperatures drop too low means the driveway won't get sealed until the spring arrives again. You also need at least four or five days of dry weather for curing the newly sealed cracks. Check the weather forecast before scheduling a cracking sealing visit to make sure the job isn't interrupted halfway through.
Finishing with Sealant
After the crack is filled to stabilize the driveway, it needs sealing. Installing a fresh layer of seal coating over the entire surface prevents the filling from breaking apart again. The sealant blends need a few days of dry weather as well to cure the coating. If your driveway hasn't been sealed recently, it might be one reason you're developing cracks. Asphalt surfaces need annual sealing after the effects of the summer sun. Concrete materials can go up to four years between sealing visits.
Preventing Further Damage
Taking better care of your driveway during the winter reduces the amount of work it will need next fall. For example, most homeowners in cold climates sprinkle their paved driveways with salt to prevent ice from forming. If you want a less slippery driveway thanks to salt, you're also shortening the lifespan of the concrete or asphalt. Use a thin layer of sand to add traction with less damage.
Take the time to seal up those lingering driveway cracks before the first frost arrives. Splits grow by the millimeter each time water seeps in and freezes. Maintain your driveway to get as much life out of it as possible before paying for a full replacement.