Pothole season is nearly here.
During the spring, more than at any other time of year, water infiltrates cracks in the pavement. As water freezes and thaws repeatedly, the asphalt flexes up and down, back and forth, and weakens. Adding to the assault, pooling water causes asphalt to breakdown prematurely.
When water makes its way below the asphalt, it begins to erode the sub-base, leaving little or no support for the asphalt. This increases the size of the original crack and creates a pothole. Left neglected, cracks and potholes get bigger and multiply.
Fortunately, pavement maintenance season is also around the corner.
Property managers face a wide variety of solutions to repair and replace failing asphalt. When making a selection, consider safety (eliminating a trip hazard), the size of the corporation’s budget, and whether a short-term or long-term fix is needed. Here’s a survey of five options:
For potholes, a quick, short-term fix is cold patch. A bag of cold patch can be brought at a hardware or home improvement store. The repair can be done in the winter time and quickly resolves urgent problems such as potholes, which are trip hazards. Cold patch is a temporary fix and the area often needs to be repaired again and again until a more permanent repair can be done.
A fast, semi-permanent repair is placing hot asphalt into the pothole. The best time of year for this type of repair is from April to November. Hot asphalt will fail due to water penetration. Water will seep into the seams around the repair, the cracks will expand, and more potholes will form.
Saw cut, remove and replace
Another similar repair is a saw cut, remove and replace. This is better than hot asphalt alone because the damaged edges are cut, debris is removed, and hot asphalt added then compacted. It lasts longer than hot asphalt alone, but potholes will form along the saw cut edges. Saw cuts do create seams and access for water. This is best suited for larger areas leaving only one cut at the perimeter, rather than many small cuts within the area.
Seamless asphalt repairs
Infrared seamless asphalt repairs uses new technology to provide excellent permanent patching and spot fixes. Water will not penetrate the seams because there are no seams.
Infrared light is used to heat an area slightly larger than the damage area. Once the asphalt is soft and pliable, new asphalt is added and the old and new asphalt are blended. The edges are then pinched and compacted.
Seamless repairs can be done any time of the year but are less costly from April to November. If the asphalt is too far gone, too old or poorly maintained, the next choice is repaving.
The gold standard in asphalt repairs, repaving can fix any problems with slope and pooling water in a parking lot. It works best when the old sub-base is removed and replaced. Beginning with the sub-base, proper grading ensures water flows towards catch basins and gutters. This is the time to make sure the grade or slope drains water away from areas where people walk and park their vehicles. Repaving looks new because it is.
The downside of repaving is it is very expensive and disruptive to traffic and pedestrian flow. The repaving season is a short season (May to October), as there shouldn’t be any frost on the ground.
The ultimate goal for many property owners and managers is to prolong the life of parking lots and roadways, and to delay the need to repave until absolutely necessary.
Crack fill, which can be done from late April to early October, is cost-effective preventative maintenance. It seals the asphalt and fills and bonds to both sides of the crack, keeping water away from the sub-base, which prevents erosion. For crack fill to be most effective, cracks need to be 1.5 inches to pencil width. The hot rubber needs to “fill a space,” like an hour glass.
The key to good crack fill is preparation. A hot air lance will etch the walls of the cracks, using extreme heat to burn off and blow away any debris, such as sand, dirt or vegetation, allowing for proper adhesion. Crack fill adheres better to a rough edge. The crack fill material should be of sufficient quality to expand during the winter months and shrink during summer.
Pothole season provides an opportunity to think about how best to maintain parking lots and roadways. There are a range of options for asphalt repair and replacement, including short- and long-term fixes. With proactive maintenance, property owners and managers can avoid premature asphalt failure and postpone expensive repairs.
Robin Farley is the vice-president of marketing and sales with Addaline Asphalt Maintenance. Addaline, serving property managers from Windsor to Oshawa, specializes in asphalt and catch basin maintenance and repairs, crack fill and line painting services.