Depressions in your asphalt driveway are a nuisance. What begins as a depression will end in a full pothole. Today we will learn what causes depressions, how to fix them, and what you can do to prevent them in the future.
You can fill asphalt depressions yourself in several steps. First, you will remove any loose asphalt from the area and prepare the site for the repair compound. Next, you will apply the patching asphalt in layers. Layering will create strength in the repaired area, and it will ensure that you don’t leave any gaps.
Note: repairing a depression in your asphalt may mask a severe underlying issue. If you have an improperly placed driveway, you may have more problems in the future. We will cover each step of the driveway repair process in the sections below.
Tools to Repair a Depression in Your Asphalt Driveway
Now it’s time for the repair. First, be sure you have all the appropriate equipment and product. Here’s a list of the supplies you will need when repairing your asphalt driveway:
- Hand Tamp
- Asphalt repair mix
- Air compressor or leaf blower and vacuum
Asphalt Hand Tamp
Use this device to flatten and compact the asphalt. This will allow you to compress each layer of asphalt and be sure you don’t leave any gaps. Avoid gaps at all costs. If your repair is not tight, then you risk further damage.
If you’re repairing a large area or cutting out a full section, you may want to consider renting a compactor. These machines will perform the tamping for you to ensure a proper repair.
Asphalt Repair Mix
You can’t repair an asphalt driveway without asphalt. Thankfully, it’s not difficult to walk into your local hardware store and ask an employee to direct you to the asphalt patch and repair products.
What you use is up to you. Most asphalt patch is a cold mix, meaning it doesn’t need to be heated before application.
Also, many people reseal their driveways after repairing. This has several benefits. One, it protects your driveway and new repair from further damage. Two, it will be more make the driveway look clean and fresh.
There are a lot of different products out there. Be sure to compare each type of asphalt fill, and use the best match for your situation.
Nothing too confusing here. Just be sure to have a strong metal shovel. You may want two different shovels: one with a spade tip, and one with a square tip. The spade tip does a good job clearing the old driveway, and the square tip will be helpful when placing the new asphalt.
Air Compressor or Leaf Blower
A key to properly repairing your asphalt driveway is getting the area cleaned. This is what the air compressor does best. It allows you to clear away all that microscopic debris that seems impossible to get with a broom. You can also use a vacuum to help reach the small nooks.
How to Repair Your Asphalt Driveway in 4 Steps
Now that you have the appropriate equipment, it’s time to begin repairing your asphalt driveway.
Step 1: Clean Area and Prepare for Asphalt Patch
Start by assessing your damaged area. Is it just a minor depression? Or has part of the asphalt detached and begun sinking into the ground below?
If you have a minor depression, you can probably just clean the area thoroughly and place your patch. However, if you have a large depression or the damaged asphalt is in a critical location (walking path, underneath a car tire, etc.), then you should probably tear the whole area up and place new asphalt from the ground up.
Use warm soapy water to clean the area after using your leaf blower and vacuum to remove as much dirt dust as possible. You may also need a screwdriver to remove larger open areas of the asphalt. Let the area thoroughly dry before applying asphalt.
After you have everything prepared, it’s time to begin placing your new asphalt.
Step 2: Place New Asphalt
Begin by placing a 1-2 inch layer of asphalt at the bottom of the depression.
If your depression is severe, and you’ve cut out the area and are now applying asphalt to the ground underneath, then you should use a 2-inch layer to the base. Consider applying an asphalt emulsifier to allow the new asphalt to bind with the old.
After you’ve placed the base layer, you can now add more layers of asphalt in 2-inch increments until the patched area is level with your driveway. Depending on how well you compacted the asphalt, you may want to raise the repaired area slightly higher than the existing surface; this will help account for the asphalt’s settling.
Step 3: Tamp Down the Asphalt Patch
Use your hand or gas-powered tamper to compress the asphalt and ensure there are no bubbles. Some advise you to place a sheet of sturdy plywood over the area and drive your car over the plywood to help compact the asphalt. This technique should be used with discretion and is not well suited for a large area.
Step 4: Edge and Seal Your Repaired Asphalt
After you’ve appropriately applied and compacted your new patch of asphalt, you will want to reseal it. We would recommend you take this opportunity to reseal the whole driveway at this time.
Not only will this provide better protection, but it will also hide the repaired area and make your driveway look like new.
Note: We recommend you wait until the repaired asphalt has completely cured. If you apply sealant immediately after repair, then the asphalt won’t receive enough exposure to the air, thus inhibiting your asphalt’s ability to harden and potentially compromising its integrity.
For more information on sealing, see our article on the pros and cons of sealing your asphalt driveway.
How to Prevent Depressions in Your Driveway
After you’ve repaired a depression in your driveway, you want to do your best to prevent future issues. Here are a few things you can do:
- Repair leaking gutters
- Stagger where you park your car
- Perform an asphalt driveway makeover
Let’s look at each of these in more depth.
Repair Leaking Gutters
Anything that is allowing water to hit or pool around your asphalt continuously should be addressed.
Take this example. You have a gutter over your garage roof. It’s leaking and allowing large amounts of water to seep into the seem between your garage floor and your asphalt driveway. As a result, you have water erosion underneath your asphalt, causing a depression.
Stagger Car Parking
If your driveway is especially prone to dips and depressions, consider parking in slightly different spots on your driveway. This will give the usual areas some relief. However, this is a tedious option, and if your driveway isn’t working out, consider a full rebuild.
Completely Replace Asphalt Driveway
An asphalt driveway that is older than 20 years is going to begin declining in performance. It may be time to replace it. Remember, repairing a surface depression is only a temporary fix to a more significant issue.
How Do You Fill Crack in Asphalt Driveway?
Cracks are a little different than depressions. For cracks, many suggest you use a solution with a ribber component. This can usually be purchased in the same area as your asphalt depression fill.
How Do I Fix a Crumbling Asphalt Driveway?
Start by assessing the damage. If your driveway is beyond repair, then you need to consider replacing it. If not, use the techniques described in this article to repair the depressions and cracks. Check out our full article on fixing a crumbling driveway.
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