Maintenance 101

Like your house or car, all paring lots require regular maintenance. The main reason for this is that stresses producing minor defects are constantly working in all asphalt pavements. Such stresses may be caused by changes in temperature or moisture content, by traffic or by small movements in the underlaying, or adjacent earth. Cracks, holes, and depressions are the visible evidences of pavement distress. Early detection and repair of minor defects is, without a doubt, the most important work done in preventive maintenance. Here are a few things to look for when determining if your property needs maintenance.

Accumulation of moisture in the pavement structure is probably the greatest single cause of pavement distress. Proper drainage and maintenance of existing drainage systems is strongly recommended. Keeping your catch basin and pipes free of dirt and contaminants will ensure that your system will perform as designed and will save you money in costly repairs or replacements. Existing drains should be inspected yearly. If any part of the system is clogged, it should be cleaned out immediately. Sometimes improvement or replacement of existing drainage systems is required.

Alligator cracks are interconnected cracks forming a series of blocks resembling an alligator skin. Alligator cracking is caused by excessive oxidation of the asphalt, aging, unstable base or sub-base, instillation of needed drainage and removal of the wet material, including the base and sub-base, installation and compaction of base rock material in layers, and placing a minimum of one inch of hot plant-mixed asphalt may be needed.

Reflective cracks are cracks in the asphalt overlay which reflect the crack pattern in the pavement structure underneath. They are caused by vertical or horizontal movement in the pavement beneath the overlay. Cracks that are wider then one-half inch should be stripped out of cracked areas and repaved.

Root damage is a common problem in old parking lots. When the parking lot was originally built, plants and small trees were planted around the parking areas and in finger islands with timer those trees have grown to their full potential. Their root systems in some cases, have started to grown into the pavement. This causes the asphalt, to rise and curb around the finger island, to break, developing a maintenance problem and safety hazard. To repair root damage, the entire area should be cut out and the root removed. If necessary, lime rock base should be added and compacted before placing a minimum of one inch hot plant-mixed asphalt.

Pot-Holes are usually caused by weakness in the pavement resulting from things such as too thin asphalt surface. Standing water in cracked areas allows water to get into the base, making asphalt lift, causing a pothole.

We recommend asphalt overlay when your asphalt is too old or too thin to hold its designed traffic load. The result of asphalt which is too old and thin is it will continuously create a number of potholes. Asphalt overlay is costly, but your pavement will be new again. The minimum overlay thickness recommended is one inch only to be used on still sound asphalt pavement surface. Asphalt overlay requires a lot of surface preparation prior to placement. Drainage problems, potholes, root damage, sinkholes, and cracking should be repaired prior to doing the overlay. Instillation of curbing, and manhole drains, water meters, and valves should be raised to match the new asphalt overlay grades. Existing asphalt at the front of garages, sidewalks, and entry doors should be milled or cut out to a minimum of 2 feet to match existing flush and prevent a reversed slope from occurring. We sometimes recommend that you consult and hire an engineer to create specifications, plans, and oversee the project for the homeowners association. The amount and quality of preparation and repair done prior to the overlay will determine the quality and durability of your new overlay. Commonly it is just a matter of cleaning the surface and overlaying.

Pavement Sealer is the most important and economical preventative maintenance for parking lots. For only pennies per square foot, you can protect and prevent costly repair. New asphalt pavement if left untreated will deteriorate due to rain, sun, gasoline, and oil leaks. We recommend resealing every 2 to 3 years and one year after the instillation of a new asphalt overlay. Two coat with sand and latex additive is the best application in most cases. Sand is added to the mix as skid resistance and latex will add longevity to the surface. Sealcoating your property every 3 years will extend the life of your asphalt pavement and will enhance your property value.

Be Prepared
If your community is planning to schedule any type of asphalt maintenance or surface treatment, informing your residents with al the details should be your first plan of attack. Make sure that the information your are providing them lists the details of the work to be completed, the days the work is scheduled, any maps that might show the areas being treated and on what days, new traffic patterns, specified areas for pickup of the mail, newspapers, or expected packages, as well as any other information to help them feel included in the process.

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