Driveway sinkholes aren’t just an eyesore; they’re potential hazards that can expand and become dangerous if not promptly addressed.
For over 30 years, the team here at Betz Works has specialized in asphalt paving and repair, and we’ve distilled our expertise into this comprehensive guide designed to walk you through the steps needed to repair a sinkhole in your asphalt driveway.
- Assessing the sinkhole’s size and cause is crucial before beginning repairs.
- To repair a sinkhole in an asphalt driveway, prepare the area, assess the sinkhole’s interior, prepare the foundation, fill the sinkhole, and allow ample time for the fill material to cure.
- To prevent sinkholes, conduct regular inspections of your asphalt driveway, ensure proper drainage, invest in quality construction and materials, seal cracks promptly, resurface your driveway periodically, avoid overloading the paved surface, and hire professionals to conduct asphalt repairs.
- Small, manageable sinkholes can be a DIY project, but larger, more complex issues may require professional assistance from a team like Betz Works.
Before You Get Started
Set yourself up for success by doing these things:
- Consider if this is really a DIY job.Weigh the pros and cons of DIY repairs against professional solutions. While DIY repairs for small sinkholes are possible, we recommend a “safety first” approach: If the sinkhole is larger than one foot in diameter or is located near utilities, contact professionals to handle the job. These larger sinkholes often signify underlying structural or environmental issues that require expert attention, and a team of professionals will be able to assess the situation accurately, determine the cause, and suggest appropriate remedial measures, ensuring long-term safety and stability.
- Gather your tools and materials. For a DIY fix, gather the necessary tools and materials, including asphalt cold patch material, a tamper, a garden rake, and a shovel.
How to Fix a Sinkhole in an Asphalt Driveway: 5 Steps
1. Prepare the Area
Begin the repair process by following these steps:
- Identify the location of the sinkhole and mark it clearly for safety.
- Divert any traffic or pedestrian pathways away from the affected area.
- Carefully cut out the asphalt around the affected area using a shovel or pick. We recommend extending this cut about a foot beyond the sinkhole edges to ensure you’ve included any potentially compromised asphalt.
2. Assess the Sinkhole’s Interior
Upon removal of the asphalt, take the time to assess the sinkhole’s interior. We recommend using a probe to investigate the hole.
Take note of how deep and wide the hole is and whether there’s a solid floor within it.
At this time, it’s also essential to identify the extent of the underlying problem. Look for signs of soil erosion, water infiltration, or any other issues that may have caused the sinkhole or that may create the need for more extensive repairs.
3. Prepare the Foundation
Once the sinkhole is exposed and you’ve identified its cause, prepare the foundation for repair.
- Use a power wash or blower to clean the area thoroughly, ensuring there is no dust or debris left.
- Use a garden rake to smooth the bottom and sides of the hole.
- If the sinkhole is more than a few inches deep, fill it with a coarse aggregate material until it’s level with the base of the existing asphalt.
- Ensure the sinkhole has a stable base. In some cases, It might be necessary to compact the bottom of the hole using a hand tamper or a piece of lumber to create a solid foundation for the repair material.
Note: If the sinkhole appears to result from a serious underlying issue, like a broken water pipe or severe soil erosion, contact a professional paving company for repair services.
4. Fill the Sinkhole
Now, it’s time to use asphalt material to fill the sinkhole.
- Gradually shovel asphalt cold patch into the hole.
- After each layer, compact the material firmly using a tamper or a piece of lumber. This prevents future settling.
- Continue filling, adding slightly more material than level with the driveway to allow for compacting.
- Once the hole has been filled, use a garden rake to smooth out the new surface.
- Ensure that the patch is even with the surrounding area for a seamless finish.
5. Allow for Curing
The fresh patch needs time to settle and harden. Avoid using the driveway during this curing period to ensure a robust repair.
Depending on the weather conditions, it can take a few hours to a few days for the patch to completely cure.
We recommend checking the manufacturer’s instructions for specific curing times if you’re using a cold patch product.
How to Prevent Sinkholes
Follow these tips to keep your asphalt driveway safe and sinkhole-free:
- Conduct Regular Inspection: Regular monitoring of your asphalt driveway can help detect any signs of sinkholes at an early stage. Look out for small cracks, depressions, or uneven surfaces, which may indicate the onset of a sinkhole.
- Ensure Proper Drainage: Ensure the area around your driveway has good drainage to prevent water accumulation. Accumulated water can seep into the ground, eroding the soil beneath the asphalt and potentially creating a sinkhole.
- Invest in Quality Construction: Use high-quality materials and follow appropriate procedures when constructing your driveway. This includes a proper foundation with a solid crushed stone base, followed by the asphalt layer.
- Seal Cracks Promptly: Small cracks in the asphalt surface can allow water to seep into the underlying soil, leading to erosion. Prompt repair of these cracks can help prevent sinkhole formation.
- Resurfacing the Driveway Periodically: Over time, the asphalt layer could wear off, making the driveway more susceptible to sinkholes. Ensure regular resurfacing of the driveway to maintain its integrity.
- Avoid Overloading: Excessive weight on the driveway can stress the asphalt and the underlying soil, potentially leading to sinkholes. Avoid parking heavy vehicles or placing heavy objects on the driveway for extended periods.
- Hire Professionals For Repair: If a sinkhole occurs, it is advisable to consult a professional for repair, especially if the cause is severe soil erosion or damaged underground pipes. DIY fixes may not adequately address the underlying issue, leading to the recurrence of the sinkhole.
Turn to Betz Works for Sinkhole Repair Services
Contact us today to learn more about our team, our approach, and how we can help you restore your driveway to like-new condition.
1. What causes sinkholes in driveways?
Sinkholes in driveways typically occur due to three main factors: water erosion, physical pressure, and substandard construction materials.
When water seeps into the ground beneath a driveway, it can wash away the soil, creating a void where the driveway can collapse, forming a sinkhole. This is especially likely if the water drainage is poor or there are cracks on the driveway’s surface.
Physical pressure, such as excessive weight from vehicles or equipment, can also lead to sinkholes by causing undue stress on the asphalt and the soil underneath.
Lastly, using low-quality materials during driveway construction can make it more susceptible to sinkhole formation.
2. What is the best material to fill a sinkhole?
The best material to fill a sinkhole is asphalt. Asphalt is a durable, cost-effective solution that can help stabilize the sinkhole and prevent further collapse.
Its ability to conform to the shape of the sinkhole provides a solid and long-lasting repair. Additionally, asphalt offers a smooth and even surface for continued use.
That said, other materials are sometimes used depending on the size and cause of the sinkhole.
For example, it’s possible to use a combination of rocks, gravel, and soil to fill the hole and then top the patch with a layer matching the surrounding surface (grass, concrete, or asphalt).
It’s important to remember that professional help is usually advised to ensure proper filling and prevent future sinkhole formation.
3. How much does it cost to repair a sinkhole?
The cost of repairing a sinkhole can vary significantly based on several factors, including the size, location, underlying cause, and chosen repair method.
Small sinkholes in easily accessible locations can be relatively inexpensive to fix, while larger sinkholes or those requiring extensive underground work may be much more expensive.
It’s always best to get a professional assessment and quote to understand the full scope and cost of the necessary repairs.
4. Does homeowners insurance cover sinkholes?
While homeowner’s insurance policies vary, sinkhole coverage is typically not included as a standard feature.
Only a few states mandate that insurance companies offer sinkhole coverage, while in others, it’s often offered as an optional add-on that homeowners can purchase for an additional premium.
It’s essential to read your insurance policy thoroughly and consider adding coverage if you’re in an area that’s prone to sinkholes. Of course, you should always consult with your insurance provider directly to understand what your policy does and does not cover.