Potholes are the bane of every driver. If the pothole is large enough, a vehicle traveling at the posted speed limit can still suffer a punctured tire, damage to the exhaust system, a bent rim, or damage to the steering alignment or suspension system. A pedestrian could trip and fall or sprain an ankle if they encounter even a small pothole, especially at night. However, asphalt companies know that minor potholes are a warning sign that should not be ignored if you do not want to bear the cost of a major repair or even a total replacement of your pavement.
How Minor Asphalt Potholes Can Become a Major Concern
What Causes Potholes in Asphalt Pavements?
Asphalt pavement needs a stable, strong foundation to support the weight of traffic as well as the weight of the pavement itself. If the integrity of the foundation is compromised, the pavement can suffer various types of damage, including potholes.
1. If the initial installation was incorrect, the pavement can begin to show significant damage within its first two or three years of life. In most cases, a defective installation can be traced to insufficient compaction of the foundation materials or the soil underneath the foundation.
2. If the underlying soil contains a high level of clay, the clay will shrink and expand as its moisture content fluctuates. This problem is exacerbated by the freeze/thaw cycle. Moisture trapped in the soil will freeze and expand, exerting pressure on the pavement that can manifest as high spots or bumps in the pavement. When the ice melts, the high spots can collapse, leaving the area with insufficient support to withstand the weight of traffic.
3. The most common cause of potholes, however, is the lack of driveway, street, or parking lot maintenance. A few small cracks develop, but crackfilling is not performed. These cracks allow rain to seep beneath the surface. Freezing temperatures turn the water to ice, and the expanding ice enlarges the cracks and creates new ones. More water enters, and the cycle continues. When the water reaches the foundation, it causes erosion in both the liquid and frozen states. Voids form between the foundation and the pavement, depressions or birdbaths develop on the surface, and the weight of traffic collapses the unsupported voids, forming potholes.
Why Are Potholes Hazardous to the Health of Asphalt Pavement?
The main risk that potholes pose to asphalt pavement is that they allow more water to reach the foundation. As the water flows over the foundation, it washes away the material used in the foundation’s construction. More voids form, leading to more potholes and more cracks. Before you know it, your pavement can be so riddled with potholes and areas of alligator cracking that even numerous asphalt repairs will not be able to save it. You could be faced with the cost of tearing out your old pavement, reconstructing the foundation, and rebuilding the entire pavement.
Is It Possible to Prevent Potholes in Asphalt Pavement?
The best way to prevent potholes is to be proactive about your asphalt repair and maintenance program. Asphalt sealcoating can help block UV rays and damaging chemicals, making your pavement more resistant to cracks that could turn into potholes. Timely repairs, including crackfilling, can also be an effective way to prevent potholes. Professional inspections can help identify depressions or bulges that can be corrected before they have a chance to turn into potholes. It is also important to keep your pavement clean; remove piles of trash or vegetation that can trap moisture next to the pavement, and you should also remove oil and gas spills promptly so that they do not have a chance to soften the pavement.
If you need potholes repaired, contact C and C Super Seal for help. We are a highly respected provider of residential and commercial asphalt repair and maintenance services, including asphalt striping, crack repairs, asphalt sealcoating, thermoplastic line striping, and pothole repairs. We serve customers throughout Bucks, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties and the surrounding area. When you need high-quality craftsmanship at reasonable rates, contact us for a free quote by submitting the online form or calling 267-223-9906.