Salt, Ice, and Snow Plows: How To Maintain Your Asphalt During the Winter?

asphalt drivewayTrust us, when you install driveways in Minnesota for a living, you learn quickly how to lay down pavement that will outlast the winter.

Homeowners and property managers come to us with a lot of questions about asphalt maintenance during the winter. The problem? They usually come to us in March or April, after the damage’s been done. So to answer all your questions about taking care of asphalt before, during, and after the winter, we’ve put together this FAQ for everything you need to know.

Secrets From the St. Paul, Minneapolis, MN Asphalt Repair Experts: How To Win the Winter
Lucky for you, asphalt holds up extremely well during the winter. Unlike concrete, asphalt is designed to be flexible enough to survive frost heaving and ice damage. That means during a cold winter asphalt driveways and parking lots can withstand freezing and thawing.

Do I need to get my asphalt driveway sealed before the winter?
Annual sealcoating is important, but asphalt repairs like crack filling should be your top priority. Usually, patching or heat blending is used to fill in cracks before winter. This keeps water from tearing apart the pavement from the inside.

It’s too late for crack filling, is my driveway doomed?
Not necessarily, although the likelihood of winter damage is high. Cracks make your asphalt pavement extremely vulnerable to frost and ice damage. Fortunately, because asphalt is engineered to be flexible, it’s possible the damage will be minor.

Can I use ice melt and salt on asphalt pavement?
Yes! According to the National Asphalt Pavement Association, asphalt is unaffected by salt unlike other common paving materials. In fact, that’s one of the reasons it’s such a popular paving material. In total, there are 18 billion tons of asphalt on U.S. roads. Plus, 90% of parking lots are paved with asphalt, and 94% of the country’s 2.6 million miles of paved roads!

Can I use abrasives like sand on asphalt? What about kitty litter?
There’s some debate about this. Some paving companies recommend using a soft ice melt. These can be easier on pavement than rock salt, and it’s true that the friction from sand or salt can cause stress cracks over time. Some people even recommend using cat litter to prevent this friction. But truth be told, asphalt is a very durable material. Our verdict: go ahead and lay down that salt.

Just remember to put it down before the weather forecast calls for snow or ice!

Can you use a snow plow on asphalt parking lots or driveways?
Yes, although metal blades can cause cracks or chips. If possible, use a shovel with a plastic edge. If you’re using or hiring a snowplow, make sure they’re using a polyurethane cutting edge or raising the plow a half inch above the surface.

What else should I look for?
Pavement, especially in driveways and parking lots, is designed to slope at least one-quarter inch per foot. If it isn’t properly sloped, or if a drain is clogged, then you get ponding on the surface. You’ll know this is happening if the tell-tale pool of water keeps collecting in the same spot. In the winter, ponding leads to ice slicks and a slip and fall liability!

Got any more questions? Give us a shout for all your asphalt driveway repair needs.