Concrete is a great material to use for driveways that can last up to 30 years if properly maintained. However, environmental elements can damage concrete, leading to cracks and other unsavory side effects in your driveway. Here are two things you can do to protect your concrete driveway from the harmful effects of snow and ice this winter.
The most common cause of concrete damage during the winter is water. Concrete is a porous material, meaning it has lots of tiny little holes for moisture to flow into. Water expands when it freezes, so the constant freezing and thawing cycle that occurs during winter can stress the concrete and make it more prone to cracking.
Coating your driveway in a durable sealant can help minimize this issue, but it's not enough. It's important to redirect water from your driveway as much as possible. For instance, make sure downspouts are emptying out onto the grass, not the driveway.
Another thing you can do is create a trench by edging the sides of the driveway (i.e. creating a gap of a few inches between the sod and the concrete) and shovel snow as far away from the concrete surface as possible. This way, water from melting snow will run down the sides of the driveway, rather than on top of it.
Use the Appropriate Tools
Avoid using snow and ice removal tools that can damage your concrete driveway. Do not use deicing chemicals that contain ammonium nitrates or ammonium sulfates because these substances will damage the concrete directly. Rock salt made from sodium or calcium chloride are gentler on driveways but can be harmful to surrounding plant life if not used carefully. If this is the first winter after having your concrete driveway laid (or resurfaced), avoid using deicers at all. The concrete is more susceptible to damage caused by these chemicals during its first year.
You should remove snow from your driveway as soon as reasonably possible. However, if you use a plow to remove snow from your driveway, be mindful of how close the metal blades are to the ground, as they can scratch or scrape the surface. Additionally, it may be better to use a plastic shovel rather than a metal one for the same reasons.
For more tips on protecting your concrete driveway during winter or to have your driveway serviced, contact a contractor in your area.