We’ve told you how to fix a pothole in asphalt. Now, let’s talk about how to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Potholes begin with water infiltration. Asphalt and concrete may appear solid, but actually they’re porous, meaning water will seep through. Even the tiniest trickle of water has the potential to grow into an enormous problem. Especially in cooler, wetter climates (like right here in Central OH), water engages in a destructive cycle of infiltration, erosion, freezing, and expanding.
Boom! Then you have cracks. Not too long, and the water will erode the subsurface to make potholes. In that case, let’s hope customers using your lot have money set aside for new shocks - or cab fare when they’re left stranded.
Slow Water’s Relentless Assault with Asphalt Preventive Maintenance
Following the rough winters we typically have here around Columbus, OH, commercial property owners should look over the damage to their asphalt parking lot and begin a spring maintenance plan. Here are some tried-and-true methods to prevent potholes and get your driving surface back to looking and functioning well.
1. Seal Cracks
Some cracks can simply be cleaned, sealed, and left for the next temporary repair. In severe instances, cracks must be pretreated for the best possible bond between the sealant and existing asphalt. This may require sawing or routing to deepen, widen, and square the crack for a solid edge the sealant can affix itself to. Some asphalt experts believe this extends the sealant’s life by about 50%.
Not all sealants are created equally. Some are best for certain pavement conditions, predominant weather patterns, and traffic flow. Flexible sealants are best used in cooler climates, for instance, because their expansive properties accommodate the expansion, contraction, and heaving that occur with the freeze-thaw cycle.
In any case, you or your contractor should ensure the crack is filled completely to stop air bubbles and weak spots. To prevent the sealant from sagging, some recommend filling the crack most of the way to the top, allowing it to cool, and then finishing the seal.
2. Sealcoating & Other Surface Treatments
A thin layer of surface treatment should be enough to stave off the elements for a significant period of time. Untreated surfaces are subject to premature damage from the elements and petroleum products. The industry recommendation is to perform a sealcoating of your driving surface once every 3-5 years, although some commercial property owners choose to do so more frequently.
You have some options, each of which will work hard to prevent water infiltration and slow the effects of weathering on your asphalt driving surface:
This is a thin layer of slowly curing asphalt emulsion, which is a combination of liquid asphalt cement, water, and an emulsifying agent. This mainly slows asphalt deterioration.
This is a thin treatment of one or several asphalt layers and a layer or more of fine-grade construction aggregate. It fills and seals damaged asphalt while helping to prevent reflective cracking, which is a type of crack that forms directly above a previously existing crack underneath it.
This is a thin layer of asphalt emulsion and fine-grade construction aggregate. It fixes minor rutting in asphalt and is ideal for its rapid curing time.
3. Good Drainage
You won’t have as much of a water problem if water isn’t allowed to collect on your asphalt driving surface in the first place. But unless you plan on someday moving your parking lot to the Sahara Desert, water problems will likely always pose a threat.
Of course, you can’t stop the rain. So planning and installing a storm sewer or gravitational drainage system may be the right course of action where water naturally pools.
Preventive Maintenance Tips for a Healthy Asphalt Parking Lot
You’ll always be fighting an uphill battle against water, especially in this place we call home. But some asphalt preventive maintenance best practices can fix minor damage and stave off future problems for a while.
Of course, the clock is always ticking on your asphalt driving surface. The day will come when it has lived a good life and must be ripped up to start anew. On that day, call a trusted professional asphalt contractor known for building great parking lots in Central OH.