Your asphalt surface is going to crack sooner or later, no matter how much you paid for it or how well it was installed. Whether it’s your home driveway, the surface of a parking lot, or a well-trodden public pavement, over time, regular use and weather conditions will wear it down.
There’s no need to worry too much when cracks appear because there is a fairly easy fix to this very common problem: sealing them yourself.
You can take a few different approaches to crack filling, including using cold crack filler and asphalt tar tape. However, for bigger jobs, you’ll need to bring in a more heavy-duty crack sealing machine. Here’s when and how you should use one.
When Should I Use a Crack Sealing Machine?
When you want to repair large cracks in asphalt driveway or pavement, you’ll likely wonder what the right approach is. While you can achieve great, long-lasting results with cold driveway crack sealer and tar tape, some jobs require a bit more muscle.
Large cracks won’t be so easily sorted with the more basic asphalt crack repair material. Unless you use a crack filling machine with high-quality rubberized crack filler, the damage you attempt to repair will be far from permanent. As such, any crack that’s wider than around half an inch will necessitate a machine.
With hot rubberized crack filler applied in the right way, large cracks can be sealed shut, preventing water from entering and damaging the foundation of the asphalt. The finish you get will also look an awful lot better and be kinder to car tires, which is important for a surface that’s likely to be in regular use.
Since cracks are inevitable in any asphalt surface, it’s a good idea to learn to fill them yourself. It’s the best way to save yourself money and ensure that any cracks that appear are done away with as quickly as possible.
Calling in a Contractor
You do also have the option of calling in a contractor to fill the cracks in your driveway or parking lot for you. However, this isn’t a cost-effective approach. On average, it can cost around $800 each time you want a contractor to repair your driveway. That’s an awful lot of money to spend on a relatively common problem.
Contractors will charge you call-out fees as well as handling fees for their own asphalt repair products. But, if you invest in products of your own, you’ll be able to make repairs happen as soon as you spot them and without having to splash the cash every couple of years.
How Do You Use a Crack Sealing Machine?
It might sound like a job that should be left to the professionals, but using a crack filling machine isn’t all that difficult, particularly with the right product. Those that are quick to heat up and easy to handle are ideal for any user, from contractors and construction workers to DIY homeowners and property managers.
So, when you spot a crack that’s wider than half an inch, grab your equipment and follow these three steps.
1. Heat Your Hot Crack Filling Material
Place blocks of hot asphalt crack sealer into the melter body of your crack filling machine and light the torch to switch it on. Ideally, it shouldn’t take longer than 20 minutes for the crack filling material to turn to liquid form, although heating times will vary depending on the model of your machine. Once the crack sealant is completely melted, it’s ready to use.
2. Apply Hot Asphalt Crack Filler
Push your machine along the cracks in your asphalt surface at walking speed and use the controls (typically positioned on the machine’s handles) to apply the melted crack filler. It will be deposited into a scraper.
3. Fill Cracks in the Asphalt
Once deposited, the scraper will level the crack filling material out along the length of the crack as you walk. This will create a smooth, attractive finish and ensure the material bonds to all sides of the crack, forming a permanent seal.
That’s all you need to do to fill large cracks in an asphalt surface. Each repair will take just seconds of your time to complete. Then, the material should only need about half an hour to dry in cooler climates or an hour at most on warmer days. Given that it saves time, money, and is so easy to do, it’s clear to see why it’s the best way to fill asphalt driveway cracks.
How Long Does Crack Filler Last?
The benefits of filling large driveway cracks yourself don’t stop there. With hot sealant applied using a crack filling machine, the repairs you carry out will help to ensure that your asphalt surface lasts for as long as possible.
If you don’t fill large cracks in an asphalt surface properly, they can worsen and cause damage to the asphalt that will eventually become irreparable. But, be quick to repair those cracks and you could extend the life of your driveway or parking lot by two decades. And, if you seal it regularly, too, your asphalt surface could last for as many as three decades.
How Much Does a Crack Filling Cost?
So, it’s already been made clear that calling in a contractor is not a worthwhile way of approaching asphalt crack repair. But, exactly how much does it cost to fill large cracks in an asphalt surface yourself?
The cost of a quality crack sealing machine is, admittedly, high and the upfront costs might put you off at first. But, say you spend around $1,000 for a superior product and a few hundred dollars on hot rubberized crack filler. Within just two or three uses, you’ll start to save money, particularly when filling bigger cracks.
A good machine will see you through many years of high-quality, permanent repairs. As such, it’s a solid investment. If that wasn’t enough, you can also make a profit with a crack filling machine. Consider filling in the large cracks that appear in your neighbors’ driveways or renting out your machine for a fee to not just save but gain with your new machine.
Using a Crack Sealing Machine
With a variety of different approaches to fixing asphalt driveway cracks, the question ‘when should I use a crack sealing machine?’ is a valid one. Cracks of half an inch or wider, though, will generally need the sort of intensive, permanent repairs that only a good machine can provide.
These sorts of repairs can cost you an awful lot of money if you outsource them to a contractor. So, invest in a product that will last you far into the future and learn to do the job yourself. It is by far the best way of fixing cracks in the asphalt that could cause lasting structural damage if left untreated.