Winter can be a cruel beast. The snow falls, the frost bites, and it can feel downright miserable, at times.
Oh, yeah, here in Central OH it can be murder on your asphalt parking lot (or basically any other type of driving surface). A repeated barrage of harsh weather and snow plows take routine wear and tear to a new level in a few short months.
Now that winter’s in retreat, it’s time to inspect your lot for damage and prepare for some necessary upkeep.
Tips For Inspecting Your Asphalt Parking Lot After Winter
Earlier we gave you tips on protecting your asphalt parking lot before winter. Now here’s what you need to look out for when the weather breaks to save money on long-term maintenance and potential liability.
And please be aware: Putting off routine seasonal maintenance when issues are relatively minor will certainly cost you more in the long run.
Asphalt and concrete are actually porous. Don’t let their solid look and feel fool you. That means water will seep through those pores to begin a long, erosive assault on your driving surface.
In winter, the damage can be severe as water continually infiltrates your asphalt, freezes, thaws, and repeats. Water expands by roughly 10 percent when it freezes. Anyone who’s experienced a burst water pipe before knows first-hand water’s power when it becomes solid. It can tear apart thick metal.
Well, water can also tear apart thick pavement. So examine your lot for cracks. As winter ends, you’ll likely encounter some you’ve never seen before, and those that weren’t fixed before winter will certainly be bigger and more extensive.
These cracks are only going to get worse. Seal them now.
Let’s hope winter didn’t leave your asphalt parking lot pockmarked and cratered like the surface of the moon. Your lot is often the first physical point of contact your clientele has with your company or organization. A poor commercial parking lot creates a powerfully negative first impression. Who in their right mind enjoys bottoming out their vehicle or trudging through endless puddles?
So as winter becomes spring, inspect your lot for potholes. Unattended cracks may have become potholes with water seeping through and eroding parts of the subsurface, which will collapse the driving surface above.
Potholes also will only get worse.
If you’ve got these, you’ve got a serious problem on your hands. In parking lots, these occur most commonly around stormwater catch basins.
The spring thaw often inundates storm sewer systems with thousands or even millions of gallons of runoff. The stress can cause these underground utilities to crack and break, allowing water to leak out and erode the subsurface surrounding catch basins, which are, by nature, weakened holes in the ground. Once the subgrade has eroded, the driving surface then collapses in on itself.
Look out for unexplained cracking and heaving near catch basins. They’re the first calling card of sinkholes. Not only will sinkholes swallow your money, but they’ll also swallow entire vehicles, nearby structures, and potentially even people. Your legal liability from sinkholes left unattended could be astronomical.
4. Pumping Mud
Sometimes a crack, pothole, or sinkhole will allow mud to pump up from beneath your driving surface. If so, that’s a telltale sign the subsurface is deteriorating. Pumping mud means it’s only a matter of time until that particular spot (or the entire lot) needs to be replaced.
An asphalt parking lot that’s crumbling and rutted might as well not be a parking lot at all. With long ruts down into the subgrade, your only real choice is to tear the old lot up, recompact the subgrade with new dirt and construction aggregate, and repave the driving surface.
Inspect your curb appeal. If your curbs are not so appealing (no pun intended) you’ll need to fix or replace them eventually.
Curbs around a parking lot serve both form and function. Not only do curbs make a commercial parking lot appear well constructed and orderly, but they also keep water and surrounding earthly elements from encroaching on your property.
Winter’s Over: Your Asphalt Parking Lot Needs Some TLC
As the last of the snow melts away, it’s time to look over your driving surfaces to gauge whether they’re:
- Visually appealing
Survey the damage. Is it minor enough for patching, sealcoating, or an asphalt overlay to put your parking lot back in working order? Or is it so severe that parts or your entire lot will need to be milled down and replaced?