Making time to patch even the smaller cracks in your concrete driveway now can help prevent these from growing into an even bigger headache later on.
These cracks are usually due to uneven settling, poor compaction of the substrate materials, or simply too weak or thin concrete on the driveway. The fact that it is cracking here and there does not mean that it is completely ruined but it is wise to fill the cracks when small to help keep them from growing larger.
There are a number of products on the market that can be used for driveway crack filling but the ones that I do not like to use in the colder climate here in Northeast Ohio are the soft setting latex type liquid fill materials. First they do not always adhere well and they tend to peel over time plus they do not handle being shoveled or scraped by snowplows very well either.
The best things to use are cement based materials made just for this purpose. I find that the material called “water plug” does a really nice job of filling most cracks in concrete and it lasts a very long time. The thing to look at first is the size of these cracks and decide if some removal work is required before filling in the cracks.
Deceptively the smaller cracks are sometimes worse to work on since there is no room for your new material to penetrate and bond down inside the groove. These may need chiseled out to at least a quarter of an inch before any crack filler will be able to take hold.
The other ones which are complex are the cracks that are wider than about half an inch. This is because the wider the gap then the harder it is to get the crack filler to bond with both sides of the crack. In these cases I will usually clean out the crack really well and then base fill them with “sakrete cement” instead of a simple crack filler. This is especially true if the crack is very deep.
This plan also works well when you are filling a one or two inch wide crack at the edge of your brick or block foundation. The problem here is you need to leave a small bit of expansion material in the groove between the wall and your patch so the shrink and swell of any water under or between the the cement and wall cannot damage your brick work.
I have found that the best products for these jobs are the following:
sakrete quick set
cement driveway crack filler
Application is usually best done when it is at least 65 or 70 degrees outside and there is a lot to be said for keeping the area clean and dry while the patch is setting up. If using sakrete then wetting the area down with a fine mist can help it harden up without cracking and it will help make the patch stronger, but some crack fillers do not work well this way.
First thing you need to do is super clean the areas where you intend to crack fill. Once they are cleaned make sure they are dry so that the only moisture comes from your crack filler cement mix. If there is dirt or excessive dust from scraping the edges clean, then you may choose to hose the area down and then use a leaf blower to dry the cracks out before starting your crack filling project.
Proper mixing and application of the material you choose is absolutely critical to your success so please read the labels carefully and if you have any questions ask someone at the store where you but the materials for your job.
Another possible resource would be the manufacturers website and telephone support line. Do not be afraid to ask for advice if you are uncertain what you are doing, it is much easier to ask now than it is to do the job improperly and have to rework it again.
Lastly do not expect miracles, if your patch work lasts a few years or more you are doing great, and remember you are only putting a band aid on a larger problem which may eventually call for more aggressive repair efforts like chopping out the bad sections and refiling with much more cement than you want to be mixing by hand.
If it comes to that, then research the job on line and meet with a few concrete contractors before you decide to dig up half your driveway as the cost of concrete can be somewhat volatile depending what is going on in the construction industry in your area. For example our local concrete costs are low here since there are many concrete facilities to choose from and construction is still down since the economy fell off the cliff.
This article comes completely from personal knowledge and experience.
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