Outdoor Maintenance

It may be fall... But now's the time to get your house ready for winter.

Here we are in the middle of October and, yes, its time to think about winterizing your house.

Last we talked about sealing cracks, crevices and screened porches. This week we’re going to step outdoors and take a look at your driveway and foundation.

“Now really is the time to take a good look at your driveway,” says Mike Frentz. “The first place to look is where it meets your house’s foundation – often there’s a large gap that tends to spread real far.” Water can get into the crack between your driveway and the house and if it freezes, it can widen the crevice even more, Mike says. “And if its raining like it has been lately, the water can seep down crack and through the walls into your basement.”

And if you’ve got just plain cracks throughout your driveway, water will freeze and make those bigger too.

When it’s raining or cold and icy, you’re not going to be able to make the repairs we discuss here, so the next time the sun is out and the temperatures are above 40 degrees, Mike suggests you get out their and spend a little time sealing up your house now.

Crack fillers The first product you want to look at using is airport-grade Pli-Stix Crack Filler. It is rubberized tar in a rope form that comes in three diameters/lengths:

¼” diameter/60 feet in length

½” diameter/30 feet in length

¾” diameter/15 feet in length.

The rule of thumb here is that the wider your crack or crevice, the wider diameter Pli-Stix you’re going to want to buy. The other thing you’ll need is a standard blow torch.

Here’s what you do.

When the driveway is good and dry, you want to clean out the crack. Use a screwdriver to loosen all the bits and pieces of sand, dirt and other debris, cleaning ½” – ¾” down into the crack. Then use a small wisk broom to sweep the debris out.

Next, pack the crevice with the Pli-Stix, using your fingertip to shape it into the crack. Then use a screwdriver to press the Pli-Stix down into the crack about 1/8” below the pavement surface.

Now, light your propane torch and adjust the flame so that it is about 1” long. Hold the flame about 1-½” from the Pli-Stix and slowly move it back and forth over the surface, heating up about 1’ at a time. You’ll want to make sure you’ve melted the Pli-Stix until it’s liquid and then move on.

The great part about this product is that it cures in about 20 minutes and your driveway will be traffic-ready.

Wet tar
A second way to approach sealing up your driveway is with product that come in a liquid form. One product is Brewer Cote Wet Stick roof cement, which is tar in a caulking tube. Just use the tip to fill the crack with a bead of tar. Each tube will fill up to 55 feet of crack with a 3/16” bead of tar. The only drawback with this is that it takes about 30 days to cure. But can be applied in cold and wet conditions for emergency crack seals when the weather isn't cooperating. Another product to try is Liquid Nails Mortar Repair Sealant, which is good for filling crevices next to the house.

Mike’s favorite, though, is a product called PL Self-Leveling Concrete Patch Sealant.

“This seems to be the most durable and it’s gray so it matches concrete better,” he says. “Also, it will fill and level itself to the surface of the concrete for a durable smooth and abrasion restraint seal good for vehicle traffic.

PL Self-Leveling Concrete Patch Sealant will be tacky and should completely cure before you walk or drive on it. “You do need to let it set or the sealant will stick to your tires and that can be messy.” Mike says he sprinkles sand over the caulk and that eliminates the tackiness until it fully dries.

Handling crevices
Most of the products we’ve discussed are good for cracks and small crevices. “If you’re cracks are huge, you’ll want to think about using Caulk Backer Rod,” Mike says.Frentz and Sons Hardware carries this in two diameters which they sell by the foot – 1" and 1-1/4", and 3/8", 1/2" and 5/8" in 20' long rolls.

“Just push the backer rod part-way down into the crack so that you only need to put a thin layer of caulk over the top.”

Another product that is good for filling a crack alongside the foundation of your house is Brewer Cote Pourable Asphalt Crackfiller for concrete or asphalt. A one gallon container of this black tar and it comes with a nozzle that fits on the top. Just put the nozzle on and run it along the crack. This dries in about 24-48 hours as long as the temperature is above 50 degrees.

There is a similar product made by Quikrete that matches the color of gray concrete. Quikrete’s Concrete Crackfiller is made of synthetic materials and comes in two sizes – quarts and gallons.