What do cracks in driveway mean?

cracks in driveway

Does a cracked driveway mean foundation problems?

Do you have a driveway crack that is annoying you and is ruining your landscaping? Could the ground shift any more than it does here in Austin, Texas? We have a mixture of different soils, between the coast and the panhandle, east to west, there is red dirt, sand, and all-time favorite, black gumbo aka black dirt. Not sure if it is the type of soil or is the state on a curvature, but driveway with cracks are common. 

There are the obvious indicators that you could have foundation problems. While it is important to be aware of those obvious indicators, you should be aware of other things that you may not realize are associated with foundation problems.  

  • Driveway Cracks: Yes, driveway cracks can indicate you have foundation problems. In fact, it is the first on the list. A driveway is typically poured so that the water will flow away from the foundation. If you have a driveway crack, water is probably not flowing away as the intended design and plans and could be flowing back toward the foundation. This water build-up around the foundation is referred to hydrostatic pressure, which can make the foundation walls to bow. You should get quotes on driveway repair or replacement along with foundation repairs.
  • Countertops Pulled Away: When the bathroom and kitchen countertops are pulled away from the wall, it is likely the foundation has settled and shifted.  If you’re noticing the cabinetry pulling away and any of the other symptoms like drywall cracks, door and window sticking, or cracking walls, it is time to get an estimate on foundation repair.
  • Musty Smelling Basement: If there is a foul odor or high humidity coming from the basement or from the crawl space, there is probably water in there. That water is likely coming from a cracked foundation, which could be plumbing or shifting soil. 

Should I seal cracks in my concrete driveway?       

Yes, sealing a driveway, concrete crack filler will stop water from flowing under the driveway, causing driveway cracks and under the foundation, weakening it.  Use a cement caulk for the cracks, joints, and expansion joints. 

Can you use sand to fill driveway cracks?

Sure, a driveway crack can be filled with sand. Over and over and over. Yes, this means that you’ll be refilling that driveway crack with sand because it will begin to grind upon itself, making it finer. The finer the sand gets, the more it will settle down inside the driveway crack, or it will get blown away or washed away. 

What to use to fill cracks in driveway?

Driveway repair with tar is one option if you have the equipment or hire a professional. Otherwise, you can do it yourself with the following steps: 

  1. Clean the driveway thoroughly with water and allow to dry
  2. Remove any grass growing in the cracks
  3. Fill a zip lock back with sand, cut a corner off so it is easy to pour into the cracks with sand
  4. Purchase tar crack filler at your local big box home improvement store, get the bigger size, it is better to have leftovers than to run out before you’re finished.  
  5. Generously pour the tar crack filler over the sand, smoothing out with a trowel to flatten the tar filler so it seals. 
dried cracks in pavement

How do I keep my driveway from cracking?

The most common explanation for the concrete driveway cracking is freezing and thawing cycle in the winter. Most people use salt to melt the sand that that actually speeds up the process of freezing. From there, it cracks and pits, refreezes, thaws, cracks, pits, etc., etc. It’s recommended to use sand instead, which most municipalities use a mixture of salt and sand on their roadways today. 

The sun is not a friend to concrete either, causing concrete driveway cracking as it heats up and expands. When it cools down at the day’s end, it reverts to its original form of unbaked material. 

To prevent driveway cracking, crazing, scaling and pitting, an annual application of an acrylic silicone that is solvent-based sealer on the driveway surface. For a concrete driveway that has already cracked, a professional concrete contractor can make repairs with dry packing, epoxy injection, or routing and sealing techniques. This stabilizes the cracks and stops them from spreading.

Once you have a concrete driveway crack, it’s almost like that missed chalk mark on the board the teacher didn’t erase. As much as you want to believe it won’t bother you, it will. At the first sign of a driveway crack, have your foundation checked. Hopefully, it is in good shape and you can decide if you want to live with a driveway crack. Call 512-646-6069 today for repair.