When winter comes, potholes become a chronic problem in roadways, driveways and parking lots. Knowing what causes the potholes to form and how you can prevent potholes in the future can save your business money on commercial paving repair costs.
Understanding the Cause
Before you can prevent potholes from forming, you need to understand what causes potholes to form. It starts with water that seeps into the ground through cracks in the pavement. This water becomes trapped in the soil beneath the pavement of your parking lot. This seepage alone is enough to cause fluctuations beneath the pavement and set the stage for potholes, but the pothole formation process is accelerated during freeze/thaw cycles.
When the water freezes, it expands, causing the asphalt to expand. When the water thaws, the asphalt returns to its original shape but is loosened by the movement.
After this freeze/thaw cycle has occurred several times, the asphalt becomes loose enough that cars driving over the asphalt erode the surface of the parking lot, and a pothole forms. To prevent the pothole from forming, you must stop the water from seeping into the ground beneath the pavement.
Preventing Water Seepage
Water seepage can be prevented by sealing the cracks in the pavement. You can either hire a commercial paving company to do this for you, or you can do it yourself. To seal the cracks yourself, you'll need to do the following:
- Clean out the cracks with a wire brush. Clean out all debris, dirt and weeds.
- Cover each crack with a bead of crack sealant, which is available for sale at home improvement centers and hardware stores. The bead of sealant should rise over the top of the crack.
- Use a squeegee to flatten the bead so that it covers both sides of the crack.
- Allow the sealant sufficient time to dry. Drying time will vary from one product to the next and will be provided in the manufacturer's instructions.
If It Doesn't Work
It is now mid-winter, and in many areas of the country, freeze-thaw cycles have already begun. If sealing the cracks in your parking lot doesn't work, this is likely because the water has already seeped into the ground and the pothole forming process has already been initiated. If this is the case, you'll need to get a commercial paving service to repair your parking lot in the spring. Then you can prevent potholes from forming next winter by sealing cracks in late summer or early fall. For more information, contact Asphalt Industries LLC or a similar company.