If you've just bought your first house, and it has a driveway, you may be concentrating on how you don't need to park on the street or worry about things like moving your car because of street cleaning. However, having a driveway isn't a maintenance-free thing either. In fact, you have to pay close attention to what's happening with your driveway because it can become damaged rather easily if something happens to the soil underneath it. If you see any of these three signs, you need to get help for your driveway fast.

Buckling After Rain

If sections of the driveway start to buckle after heavy rain, the rain has likely caused soil to wash away from under the driveway. Rain can seep under the edges of paved areas and gradually wash small amounts of soil out; these rivulets can become bigger and bigger as more soil washes away. That, in turn, allows larger amounts of water and soil to wash out, and the cycle continues until the rain stops and the runoff stops. With parts of the soil gone, the driveway's surface can collapse. A larger potential problem is a sinkhole, which would do more than just ruin your driveway -- even a small sinkhole could trap your car's tires so you couldn't drive out. If you see any buckling, get an engineer to look at the soil.

Sinking Near Downspouts

If the driveway sinks in areas located near downspouts, then either the downspout's opening is too close to the driveway, or something may be up with how the soil on your property is graded. Basically, water is coming out of the downspout and eroding the soil under the nearest portion of the driveway; if the downspout is merely too close to the driveway, have a gutter company re-route the opening of the downspout to another portion of the yard. However, if the downspout is not that close to the driveway, the land could be graded so that water still runs down to the driveway. In that case, you need to get an engineer or surveyor to check out the grading, and you may want to install something like a French drain to guide the runoff away from the driveway.

Sinking in Random Spots

If you notice that the driveway is sinking -- not buckling in spots, but actually becoming lower -- then you may be dealing with settling soil. When land is graded, filled, or otherwise modified with loose soil, that soil can settle over time. That's one of the reasons you hear your house creak occasionally. But if the soil was prepared poorly before the driveway was put in, the soil can settle too much, resulting in uneven sunken patches around the driveway. You'll need to have the soil filled in again and tamped down, and the driveway repaved. A paving company like Interstate Paving LLC can do these tasks for you.

If you have other questions about cracks, lumps, or other problems you see appearing in your driveway, talk to the paving company. The workers can often identify what's going on and point you toward the right solutions.