If you have an asphalt driveway and just noticed a patch of alligator cracks, those crumbly, crisscrossed cracks that tend to occur in clumps, you need to take action fast. Those cracks are an indication that something's gone wrong with the layers of soil underneath the asphalt, and if you leave the cracks alone, they'll only get worse. Here are four steps to take once you see those cracks appear.
Apply Temporary Filler
Have a paving company fill the cracks -- this will likely be more of a general patch placed over the whole area rather than the filling in of individual cracks -- but it's imperative that you get this done quickly. The patch will stop bits of the asphalt flying away as tires hit the cracks. Not only will that prevent damage from the flying bits, it will stop potholes from forming, which will protect your car and tires.
Have the Drainage Inspected
Chances are the soil under the asphalt had problems due to erosion from rainwater seeping under the edge of the asphalt or to water seeping into the asphalt during freeze/thaw cycles -- that water can gradually push soil out, too. Ensure that there are no other cracks in the driveway in other areas, and check that the drainage along the sides and ends of the driveway lets water roll away from the asphalt and not onto one side. You might have to get the land re-graded before fixing the driveway.
Have the Sublayer Rebuilt
When you finally have time to start the permanent repairs, you'll have to start by repairing the ground under the asphalt. That means having a paving company remove the cracked asphalt and filling in soil, gravel, and anything else under there to make the ground almost level again (there should be a slight grade for drainage purposes, but the ground should, in general, be smooth and relatively level).
Repave With a Thicker Layer of Asphalt
When the underlayer is fixed, have the paving company repave the driveway using a slightly thicker layer of asphalt. This will help prevent future patches of cracks from becoming as big because the thicker layer won't be as fragile as a thinner layer. Obviously, if the ground under the asphalt once again has problems, such as erosion, that's going to affect the asphalt. But with a thicker layer, you might have less damage to worry about.
If you are having repeated problems with alligator cracks or have started finding single-line cracks in your driveway, contact a paving company as soon as you can. The faster you get the problem solved, the safer it will be for your car to be in the driveway.
For more information, contact Central Paving & Sealcoating Inc or a similar company.