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Thread: lake/ice rink in driveway

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  1. #1
    DIY Member RCraig's Avatar
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    Default lake/ice rink in driveway

    I am hoping someone might help me learn about driveways in the Northeast US. Clay soil, freezing winter etc. At present, the driveway is not paved over with anything, it is just dirt and gravel.
    The good news is I found someone who will put in a new catch basin and pipes to get rid of the possibility of water accumulation with any rain or snow that comes down.

    The issue, WE DON"T WANT ASPHALT. So what are the possibilities, and another key question that I don't understand is HOW FAR DOWN does one have to dig, to prevent the future possibility of heaving.

    Basically, I know nothing about driveway preparation and I don't want to do all the piping and then not do the right thing so that the driveway won't be a mess in the future. Thanks, Ruth

  2. #2
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default heaving

    The foundation has to go below the frost level, BUT freezing under the slab itself will cause it to heave regardless of the depths of any foundation around the perimeter.

  3. #3
    DIY Member RCraig's Avatar
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    Default driveway

    OK, if I understand correctly, one has to dig down below the frost level, not sure what that would be.

    However, the foundation - by this do you mean the rocks that would get put into the hole that you dig? - will freeze and so if a slab of some sort is on top of that the driveway would crack? Not sure I understood the gist of your message. Thanks Ruth

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Default

    Compacted DG is a good driveway. Not being in a cold climate, I don't know about the freeze issue. Someone will tell us.

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    Geotechnical Engineer Fistor's Avatar
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    Default

    The key to prevent frost heave (I assume you refer to this, rather than "swelling soils", which is an entirely different matter) of pavements is proper drainage.

    You mention "foundation", but I think you are simply referring to the driveway pavement section? (i.e. the base and subbase?).

    For pavements of any sort, drainage is the main consideration in prevention of frost heave, not depth of subexcavation below frost (that applies to foundations, not road bases - after all, road structures do freeze in cold climates). With a proper drainage layer, water doesn't accumulate, so when freezing sets in, minimal frost heave.

    Typically, pavement sections include the following layers, from top-bottom: surface material for durability (e.g. asphalt, concrete), base for strength ("dirty" crushed gravel), and subbase for drainage (free-draining soils, like non-silty sand), over the subgrade. For light-duty commercial lots, a typical profile (here in Vancouver, BC, where it is wet, and does freeze in winter)might be 2-3 inches of asphalt, over 6 in. of crushed gravel, then 12-18 in. of sand subbase.

    The subbase drainage layer should be built such that water drains out and away from the driveway. Sounds like you might have provision for this if you install catch basins and pipes. Just make sure the pipes connect somewhere!

    Finally, a note about your driveway surface - you indicated no asphalt (not sure why). Just be aware that asphalt is generally good, because it is considered a "flexible" pavement structure. Provided asphalt is properly prepared, it won't crack, since it can flex somewhat with the ground. Concrete is a "rigid" pavement structure, and is more prone to cracking. If you don't want asphalt, you could consider pavers, or grass-pavers, depending how long your driveway is and the usage. Otherwise, there's gravel, although without the protection of asphalt, you will develop pot holes over time.

    Hope it helps!

  6. #6
    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Fistor View Post
    The subbase drainage layer should be built such that water drains out and away from the driveway. Sounds like you might have provision for this if you install catch basins and pipes. Just make sure the pipes connect somewhere!
    Here are some more details:
    http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24887

    Ruth, do you still hope to connect to the nearby storm drain? If you are allowed to do that, water can be directed from your drive to a catch basin (as Fistor has described), then pipe can direct the water on out to the storm drain. But if you cannot do that, a dry well will probably be about the best you can do.

    As long as your gravel drive is re-worked below ground level to channel water away, you do not have any frost-heave concerns. I could not find a frost-line chart, but your local "permit palace" (building department) can tell you what depth will be required either for a catch basin or dry well.

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