Cracks in Your Driveway? Causes and Prevention Tips

With time, almost every concrete driveway will crack as the material breaks down and separates. While this may be expected of a decades-old driveway, it can be frustrating if you recently re-did your driveway. To avoid this frustration and future damage, it is crucial to know why concrete cracks so you can change your behavior. Keep reading to learn about some of the most common causes of cracking concrete and what you can do to prevent it.

Improperly Installed Base

Perhaps the most common cause of cracking concrete is incorrect installation techniques. Good contractors will create a subbase of tightly packed crushed stone, then an aggregate base before pouring the concrete. Some contractors, however, cut corners and use a loose material like dirt or sand to make the subbase. When sand or dirt becomes moist, it expands and contracts, which puts unnecessary pressure on the concrete and leads to cracking. Though there is not much you can do about this after the installation is complete, you can prevent future problems by hiring a reputable contractor to perform all future concrete driveway crack repair.

Avoid Using Salt to Melt Ice

Though salt may help you gain traction on an icy road, it can be too harsh for concrete. Winter is already harsh on concrete because of the freeze-thaw cycles that are common this time of year. Salt will speed up the thawing process and cause water to enter the surface of the driveway. Once inside the concrete, the water will freeze again and put pressure on the surface, resulting in a crack. Instead of using salt this upcoming winter, use sand instead.

Watch Out for Tree Roots

Tree roots can also place unnecessary pressure on your concrete driveway. When the roots grow, they put uneven pressure on portions of the driveway and the foundation. This will eventually lead to a crack in the driveway. When pouring a new driveway, consider the placement of trees on your property first. You could also install a tree root barrier system on the sides of the driveway to avoid these cracks once and for all.

Reduce Added Weight

Just like pressure from below can cause cracking, so can pressure from above. Concrete is an extremely durable material and can withstand a lot, but it does have a breaking point. By putting too much weight on the driveway, you can cause cracks and may need concrete driveway crack repair. The exact amount of weight your driveway can hold will vary, but try to keep weights below a few tons.