3 Important Tips for Handling Your Own Blacktop Repairs

If you have a bitumen or blacktop driveway, it should last for years without problems, but it will eventually need some repairs. This can include cracks that look like spider webs or what some refer to as an alligator's back, or it can mean actual chunks of the bitumen that have come loose and which are now missing. These repairs are often easy to do yourself, if you take the time to learn how to do them right and prepare your driveway ahead of time. Note a few important tips to consider for handling your own blacktop bitument repairs at home.

1. Preparing the driveway and surface

This is something that many homeowners overlook because they're simply so eager to get to repairing the bitumen. However, it's good to actually power wash the surface of the area to be repaired and then ensure that it has plenty of time to dry; overnight is best. You also want to remove any vegetation that may be growing through the cracks of the areas to be repaired, and if you don't have a power washer, use a leaf blower to remove all traces of dust and dirt, or a very stiff-bristled broom. Your patching material won't adhere to dirt or weeds, so be sure you have a clean surface before work begins.

2. Heating the bitumen

Old bitumen or blacktop joins with new patching material best when it's warm and soft. It can be good to invest in a torch that is used to heat the sides of the existing blacktop before you fill the area with a patch. You can usually rent these torches from any home improvement store, and be sure you start with the lowest heat and slowly heat the bitumen around the area to be patched so you don't scorch it or cause it to actually melt versus just soften.

3. Tamp it down

Another common mistake made by homeowners is neglecting to tamp down the bitumen as you fill the hole to be repaired. A tamper can also be rented at a home improvement store, and this will ensure that the hole or area to be patched is fully covered and filled in, all the way down to the gravel or soil underneath if needed. A tamper can also help you to fill in small cracks in those spider web areas so they don't get any bigger underneath your patch job. Use the tamper after filling in the hole or area to be repaired and then you can see if you need to add more bitumen to completely fill it in.