Dear James: My asphalt driveway need some serious repairs. There are several potholes and dents in it. I know professional heated repairs are best, but what is the best way to repair it myself? — Tom K.
Dear Tom: Asphalt driveways do require maintenance and people are often surprised at how and why they sometimes deteriorate so quickly. You are correct that hot repairs are the best and longest-lasting. Asphalt gets soft and tacky with heat and this makes the patch adhere better.
Homeowners generally have no means to heat a large quantity of asphalt patch material or the spot to repair. The only other option is a cold patch using repair materials you can find at most hardware and home center stores. Professionals will tell you these cold patches will last only a couple of years at best.
Actually though, the newer do-it-yourself cold patch materials hold up much better, almost as well as some hot patches. The new materials may take several weeks to get to their maximum strength and durability, but you can drive over them sooner than this. You just want to be careful for several weeks about parking the car with a tire directly over a patch.
If you have trouble finding cold patch driveway repair materials, contact the following companies for the names of local outlets: EZ Street Co., www.ezstreetasphalt.com; Unique Paving Materials, www.uniquepavingmaterials.com; PTI Pavement Repair, www.pavepatch.com; and QPR, qprusa.com.
It sounds as though you have found many of the spots which need repair, but there probably are others just beginning to fail. Wet your driveway with a hose. This makes surface imperfections easier to detect. Try to poke the tip of a screwdriver into these spots to see if the asphalt is weak. If they are nothing more than a surface issue, sealing the driveway later will take care of these spots.
The key to a long-lasting asphalt patch is cleaning out the damaged asphalt and using the proper patch material. Using a scrapper, chisel or strong screwdriver, dig out all the deteriorated and crumbling asphalt in the potholes. Don't be afraid to dig too deep to get it all out.
Generally, the patch material manufacturer's instructions recommend you finish the sides of the holes so they are flat and as vertical as possible. This gives the repair material an excellent surface to adhere to and reduces the possibility of frost popping it out during winter. Use a blower (wear safety glasses) or a wet/dry vacuum to clean out the hole.
For most patch materials, the recommended deep is about two inches. If a hole is deeper than this, fill it with gravel to attain a two-inch depth. Use crushed gravel which locks together, not pea gravel which will roll and move. Landscaping companies usually offer all types of gravel. Tamp it down with the end of 4x4 wood post to compact the gravel.
Carefully fill the hole with the cold patch material so there are no voids at the bottom. Water will collect in even small voids and this will cause the patch to deteriorate prematurely. Fill the hole slightly over full and then tamp it down with the end of the post so it is level with the driveway surface. Do not apply sealer to the patched areas for at least a month during the curing process.
Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com. To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.