Potholes can wreak havoc on asphalt pavement. Observing and fixing potholes before they become large will help preserve the life of an asphalt surface.
What are Potholes?
Potholes are a type of damage – more precisely, a failure – which occurs in asphalt pavement. Potholes begin when water gathers in the subgrade – the pre-existing soil – on which asphalt is built. Water is referred to as a “universal solvent” because it can dissolve more substances than any other single liquid. It’s no wonder, then, that the ingress and pooling of water in pavement subgrade can disrupt the soil’s integrity.
Most asphalt surfaces bear considerable load, both static (permanent structures and parked vehicles), and dynamic (moving vehicles). Heavily trafficked roads are under almost constant stress, as cars and trucks roll over pavement day and night.
Under normal conditions, well-constructed asphalt can withstand steady traffic. However, when the subgrade is weak (a process exacerbated by freeze-thaw cycles), its ability to support the upper layers of pavement is compromised, and traffic fatigue causes cracks, and the ejection of both asphalt and subgrade, resulting in potholes.
When and Why to Report a Pothole
Reporting potholes is always a good idea. The sooner a pothole is reported, the better, because potholes affect the integrity of the entire asphalt surface, from bottom to top. The larger a pothole becomes, the greater the potential damage to the pavement. As with most things in life, small problems are easier to fix than large ones, and potholes are no exception.
Few things frustrate drivers more than potholes, which are not only unsightly, but hazardous. A road, driveway or asphalt parking lot that’s riddled with potholes forms a bad impression of your business or municipality in the minds of anyone who has the misfortune of driving over a jarring section of pavement.
Potholes can cause vehicular damage. Most commonly, wheels and tires suffer from the impact, which can bend rims and puncture rubber. Running directly into a pothole can also bend axles, and in severe cases, dent, cut or otherwise adversely affect a vehicle’s shocks and struts, resulting in damaged suspension, poor handling and costly repairs.
The last thing anyone wants is to be on the receiving end of a pothole damage claim – but if it can be proven that your neglect resulted in damage to someone’s vehicle, it could be up to you to foot the bill. Keep an eye on your driveway, road or parking lot – if you spot a pothole, report it and have it fixed right away. Likewise, don’t disregard someone if they report a pothole to you. Address the issue immediately.
Pothole Repair: Fixing Potholes from the Ground Up
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to fixing potholes. Pothole repair techniques are determined by a number of factors, including time constraints, the intended use of a paved surface, and even the weather.
For example, if a large pothole forms on a busy road, in the middle of winter, a road repair crew may first address the problem by filling a pothole with cold asphalt, and compressing it. This, however, is a temporary solution, designed only to buy more time. A more permanent approach involves reconstructing the subgrade and the edge of the pothole, before filling it with hot mix asphalt and leveling the surface to match the surrounding roadway.
Alternately, spray injection – an increasingly popular method of pothole repair – may be utilized. First, debris is removed from the surface. A thin layer of emulsified asphalt is applied. Aggregate – precoated with hot oil – is injected by a specialized truck into the pothole, and the top-most surface is sealed by more aggregate, finely crushed for smoothness and maximum adhesion.
Leave Fixing Potholes Up to the Experts
Fixing potholes as soon as you become aware of them will minimize damage to your pavement. Left unchecked, however, potholes can grow in size and depth, degrading asphalt, damaging vehicles, infuriating drivers – and hurting your reputation and bottom line. Pothole repair is best undertaken by an experienced asphalt company.
Trust DD Mitchell Construction – Northeast Ohio’s number-one provider of commercial asphalt and road repair services – to assess and fix potholes quickly, effectively, and within budget, restoring functionality and safety to your paved surfaces.