There are places in the United States where most people really can’t conceive of freezing cold temperatures. And that doesn’t just mean temperatures that are below freezing. In the Northeast, or parts the Midwest, the wind chills can fall to fifty below zero or colder. That’s a kind of cold that you can’t be out in for more than a few minutes at a time, even when you’re bundled up.

What kind of affect does that level of cold have on infrastructure, such as asphalt pavement? For the average homeowner, it might be worth knowing if the freezing temperatures during the winter months are affecting your driveway adversely, and whether anything can be done about it. Anyone who has ever needed an extensive driveway repair can tell you that it wasn’t a very welcome expense. Depending on how bad the problem is, the entire driveway sometimes has to be torn up and replaced. This involves a process called “asphalt milling” and it adds significantly to the cost of the repair.

The point is that asphalt repair gets expensive when the original pavement was installed in a faulty way, or when low quality mixtures were used. When it comes to protecting the driveway against the onslaught of freezing temperatures, there are specific mixtures and techniques that result in a more flexible asphalt. That means that as the molecules contract and expand with freezing and sweltering temperatures in different seasons, the pavement will be able to “flex” more.

What does that mean?

Essentially that you’ll have fewer cracks, potholes and other imperfections if you hire a reputable company that understands pavement installation for areas with freezing cold temperatures in the winter, and heat waves in the summer. Time and time again, it’s been shown that the wrong mixtures or techniques will break down easily when the temperatures start swinging back and forth to either extreme. The expansion and contraction of the weak material is simply too much, and the pavement starts to buckle. This often involves problems in the base and sub-base layers as well ­– on top of which the surface of the pavement in installed. Mistakes made in these deeper layers can also wreak havoc on pavement.

We know that cold temperatures will affect your driveway – the question is, can your pavement contractor do what’s necessary to mitigate those effects, while also delivering a driveway that’s aesthetically as close to perfect possible? The reality is that many contractors out there can do this. And hopefully there is one of your area. But it’s also important to look out for hucksters and unprofessional companies who may not even be licensed to operate in your area. Strangely, this problem still exists in many areas, and not just in the pavement industry.

But a true expert will be visible when you know what to look for. Solid online reviews in the community are a good place to start. Getting your questions answered quickly – in a way that’s both friendly and professional – is also important. Taking the time to find the right people will make sure that your driveway stands up to freezing winters, and saves you money over the long haul.