Asphalt Preventative Maintenance
Asphalt can be the best type of ground material, not only because of its cheap cost but also because of how easy it is to maintain. However, that certainly doesn’t mean that you don’t need to engage in preventative maintenance.
By being proactive about repairing and preventing any further damage, you can drastically extend the life of your asphalt. These maintenance activities can be costly, but when compared to the cost of removing your existing pavement and replacing it, the cost seems practically frugal.
For this reason, the vast majority of local governments and businesses with parking lots choose preventative maintenance over a complete re-haul. For most people, this option is far cheaper, less time consuming and much easier. For those in Huntsville, check out our guide on asphalt paving Huntsville, TX. (INTERLINK)
Why Does Asphalt Need to Be Maintained?
Asphalt is a fantastic material, but it’s not perfect. Depending on the temperature and precipitation it can expand and contract significantly throughout the year, causing cracks in the ground which allow for further damage.
With a protected upper surface, it’s difficult for any serious damage to occur, but when cracks and potholes do appear the damage can spread rapidly. For this reason, it’s vital that you repair any problems as quickly as physically possible to reduce the overall damage and cost.
Over time you will find that this expansion and contraction allows for water to enter into the cracks, causing even more problems. For this reason, we recommend taking preventative measures to reduce issues.
How Does Preventative Maintenance Help?
Asphalt preventative maintenance helps specifically by fixing small problems before they can become much larger issues which will be costlier to repair. The point of preventative maintenance is to spread the repair of your roads and parking lots over a period, making it more efficient and also cheaper to keep the pavement looking beautiful and safe.
One of the first steps in maintenance is also the easiest, and that is to clean the surface as frequently as possible so that you can nip problems in the bud before they develop. A great example of this is small fuel leaks from people driving on your roads or parking in your lot.
A little fuel might not seem like a large issue, but it will slowly erode the surface of your pavement, eating away at the protective layer which resists cracks and holes. Doing this will extend the lifespan of your surfaces by a significant amount, all because of regular cleaning which might only take an hour or less each week per lot.
Even small debris on the surface like garbage, rocks and even leaves can detract from the safety and durability of the road. One leaf or rock is hardly going to impact the hard asphalt, but thousands being knocked around daily for months certainly will. In fact, this is arguably one of the largest causes of cracks, and it can be prevented by frequent cleaning of your asphalt.
Repair Cracks and Holes Quickly
The second step after cleaning is to identify and fix any cracks or holes as quickly as you can. As we mentioned earlier, repairing issues in the shortest period will reduce the severity of the problem and therefore the cost of fixing it.
The great thing about cleaning regularly is that you will also notice and cracks and holes much quicker, ensuring you can minimize the damage.
Most cracks can be fixed by simply filling them, but if you are interested in a superior method which can extend the life of the repair, you can opt for a full sealing which is much better.
Crackfilling with Asphalt
When you find a crack, you want to fill it as quickly as possible to prevent water entering which can weaken the pavement system, causing the cracks to spread. A filling is done by blowing out and cleaning the crack. Subsequently, you can install a filler material to prevent moisture seeping in.
This method is best for wider-type and non-working cracks. The most common materials for filling include asphalt emulsions, cement, fibered asphalt and polymer-modified emulsions, with the latter being superior but also costlier.
Most crack filling applications will last only for 2-3 years, but because they are relatively cheap processes, it’s most often worth the investment. The primary reason for filling cracks is safety, with the added benefit being that you can prevent water intrusion which would weaken the aggregate base and subgrade materials, causing further cracks.
Crackfilling should be used when you are only trying to maintain the surface for a shorter period or are considering a significant improvement in the next couple years.
If you are more serious about asphalt preventative maintenance, you should consider crack sealing, a method that is far more effective but also costlier. It works by grinding out the crack to a larger square, providing a reservoir into which you can pour the crack sealing material.
These square reservoirs are superior because they contract and expand better during thermal changes, making cracks less likely to appear. Overall, this means that the seal might hold for up to 5-years instead of the 2-3 years which you can expect from a filling.
Although much more complicated than crack sealing or filling, surface treatments are a different type of tactic which can impact the surface of the road or lot. In general, these surface treatments rejuvenate the asphalts upper layer, increasing the pavements flexibility and reducing the harm of environmental aging.
Unlike filling and sealing, these surface treatments don’t have such a large impact on structural integrity; they are primarily for cosmetic reasons. Surface treatments will make the asphalt look brand new, giving it a clean, smooth and glossier look that most of us desire.
For this reason, they are most commonly used in parking lots rather than roads or highways. These coatings of surface treatment are applied either with a brush, squeegee or spray. Physical methods are better because they force the material into smaller cracks, but spraying is far cheaper and quicker.
For businesses and governments interested in improving the appearance of their lots a surface treatment is the most desirable method. Most of the materials used are specially created to resist fuel spillages. This quality makes them ideal for parking lots and truck gas stops where leakage is common.