Asphalt driveways can last many years, especially if the base that supports it is in good shape. Learn to recognize the common causes of driveway base failure, as it's easier to repair problems if you catch them early.
1. Water Seepage
Water seeping through the surface of the asphalt will lead to potholes. If ignored, a pothole can grow large enough to penetrate the base material. Moisture then seeps into the base and begins to weaken it. Repairing cracks promptly reduces water seepage. You can further prevent seepage issues by having the asphalt sealcoated every few years to help maintain a moisture-proof surface.
2. Poor Compaction
Part of proper driveway installation is compacting the soil and base materials sufficiently so that there are no soil shifting or sinking issues in the future. Failure to properly compact the base can lead to erosion issues that cause the asphalt to sink and settle unevenly. Frost heave is also more likely to affect a poorly compacted base. Issues with base compaction typically occur within a couple of years of construction.
3. Tree Roots
A root from a nearby tree can grow beneath the driveway, where it will disturb the soil and possibly penetrate into the base. Trees don't have to be planted right next to the drive to be a problem, either, as tree roots can stretch for several yards from the trunk. If tree roots are a concern and you don't want to remove the tree, then installing a root barrier between the drive and the tree may be necessary.
4. Bad Drainage
Water that seeps beneath the pavement can cause base materials to shift. If drainage is poor in the yard near the driveway, installing french drains on either side of the drive can prevent drainage issues from washing out the base. Gutter downspouts from the garage should also be routed in such a way that water doesn't flow along the edge of the driveway.
5. Weak Edges
Poorly supported and badly installed edges will crack and crumble, giving the water an inlet into the edge of the base material. A properly constructed driveway edge should have asphalt extending slightly beyond the base, angled down to soil level. Then, some soil should be pulled up over the edge of the asphalt. This provides protection for the edge so that wear and tear won't cause the asphalt to crumble.
Contact an asphalt paving contractor if you suspect base problems are affecting your driveway.