Thursday, September 21, 2006

Driveway Update

Over a month ago, I missed a day of posting (which Linzy gave me a hard time about) because I was busy trying to figure out how I was going to fix the problem of our driveway crumbling into the foundation blocks. Unfortunately, the driveway hasn't actually been fixed yet. But I did do quite a bit of further research on the problem, and made a decision as to how it could be fixed.

I eventually decided just to get an entirely new driveway put in. I even called and lined up the repair company on the way to Brainerd, which was world-record speed for an Eck to hire anyone to do expensive work. Replacing the entire driveway is obviously the most expensive option for repair. However, I had some concerns about all of the other options.

First, there was the cheapest (money-wise, not labor-wise) option of fixing the problem myself by filling the foundation blocks with something and then re-patching the gap with cold asphalt filler. The two options for filling would be sand or concrete.

Filling with concrete is a problem because the gap isn't really wide enough across most of the driveway to be able to get more then about an inch of access to the open foundation block. So it is going to be very hard to get the amount of concrete necessary into all the blocks, through a gap 1-inch wide.

Filling with sand seems more do-able through the small gap, but I have concerns about the sand eventually sliding away over time and the problem coming back. This was confirmed when every contractor I talked to about the problem who said they would fill the block with sand/class 5 also listed what they would 'cap' the blocks with. This varied from metal flashing to asphalt shingles (that I didn't expect), to an inch of concrete. The material varied, but all wanted to put something over the top to protect against the sand falling away. Which means to me that it will fall away eventually.

The problem in my case is that I would only be able to cover a one-inch portion of the top of the block, leaving the rest of the block open to further erosion of the driveways base over time. After all, this is precisely what happened on the problem side of the driveway, where I 'capped' the block with a 1x2.

So, I concluded if I was going to fill the block, I was going to have to cut away the driveway further from the garage, which was something I don't want any part of. At that point, I decided I was going to have to hire someone.

That still left two options, either getting just a concrete apron installed or getting the complete driveway.

The problem with the concrete apron was two-fold. First, a portion of the walkway that connects the front door to the driveway is also sinking just a bit. It is no problem with a driveway, because the asphalt can be shaped so there is no lip. However, if I put in a concrete apron just over the driveway, there would be a 1/2 lip specially designed for injuries while walking on the walkway in front. So that means in addition to an apron, they would also have to redo at least a piece of the walkway at the same time which increases the cost.

The other problem with the apron is that it doesn't address any of the other problems with the driveway that are starting to crop up, like drive lanes and some minor cracking. None of these problems are really all that bad, but they could mean that in 5 years the driveway might have to be replaced anyways. And at that point the presence of an apron isn't going to significantly lower the price of the replacement.

So, in the end, I decided that I would rather just pay a little more now and have the whole driveway replaced, which solves all the problems at once and spares me from the frustration of trying to shove a couple yards of concrete through a minuscule gap or gambling on whether we will move within the lifetime of the current driveway.


Brenden said...

I think you should get underground heating put in so you (or Linz) never have to shovel again. Come on! How much more expensive could it be? ;)

Steve Eck said...

My driveway heating comes from the sun. That is one of the reasons I didn't have any interest in a concrete driveway, because I wanted the black asphalt to help melt the snow in winter.