Whether you have to care for your own driveway, a commercial driveway, or a parking lot, getting it prepped for winter is important not only for safety reasons, but also to avoid costly repairs in the future. The key here is to start preparing before the winter hits. By following a few simple tips, you’ll relieve yourself of any headaches or problems that arise if you wait too long.
Schedule Snow Removal
If you don’t have the time or resources to remove snow and ice, contact a local snow removal expert to discuss a potential contract. Don’t settle on the first person you talk to; shop around a bit. Once you find a good deal, check references and the Better Business Bureau to make sure you’ve found a reputable dealer. Before signing the contract, make sure you know any extra charges and options so you completely understand what services you’re receiving.
Seal the Driveway
In the winter, the freeze and thaw cycle creates problems. Any cracks you have in your parking lot or driveway fill with water runoff. When it freezes, the water expands and creates larger cracks and potholes. To avoid this, seal the driveway in the fall. As a general rule, driveways and parking lots need sealant about once every three years. This helps avoid costly patchwork later.
Use the Correct Ice Melt
One of the most overlooked aspects of snow and ice removal is the type of ice melt to use. Do not just assume that all ice melt works the same, since certain blends damage concrete and asphalt due to harsh chemicals. Generally speaking, anything with ammonium, including fertilizers, eats away at driveway surfaces, especially if it’s in contact for a long period of time. Instead of this, opt for calcium-based ice melts, as they do little or no damage. For the eco-friendly, there are many options that you can find around the house.
Keep It Clean
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of preparation is keeping your driveway or parking lot clear of debris year-round. In the summer or fall, use a pressure washer to deep clean grit, oil, and other chemicals off the asphalt or concrete. Not only does this keep the chemicals from seeping in and eating away at the sealant, it also makes the surface more aesthetically pleasing. Also, before snow arrives, make sure to clear any leaves, sticks, and rocks, as this adds to the deterioration of the lot or driveway.
Prep Your Tools
If you are going to be removing snow yourself at any point during the winter, make sure all your tools are ready. Snow blowers often need a tuneup after sitting in the shed for eight months. Also, check out shovels and push brooms to make sure they’re working properly. You don’t want to wait until snow falls, go to the store, and find that they’re sold out of shovels.
While these are general guidelines, the real preparation starts by maintaining your driveway all the time. By doing preventative maintenance or repairing cracks when they appear, you’ll find that you have less to worry about year-round, especially during the winter.