Potholes are one of the most common road and pavement problems. They damage vehicles and are a safety hazard for drivers.
A frequent cause of potholes is moisture. Preventing moisture, such as adequate drainage, using quality materials and construction methods, and load management, can help avoid potholes.
During the winter, water from rain, melting snow, and traffic pounding causes damage to surface asphalt pavements. During the freeze-thaw cycles, the water gets into cracks and crevices and weakens the surface. Pounding tires over the weakened pavement further break up the surface and create potholes.
For the cold-lay method, workers clean out the pothole, fill it with a shovel full or two of cold patches, and compact it by hand or using a mechanical compactor. The material is intended to be temporary, and vehicles can drive on the surface when it’s dry.
Several external factors contribute to the formation of potholes in asphalt pavement, including environmental conditions. Hotter and drier climates may produce fewer potholes than wetter ones and roads adequately designed and constructed to resist traffic pressure and repel water.
Thermoplastic tape is a popular overbanding method that seals cracks in asphalt surfaces and prevents water ingress. This type of product is laid over the crack and then heated with a gas torch, creating a solid seal that’s skid-resistant and waterproof.
Another way to protect against the formation of potholes is crack filling, a form of overbidding that involves placing material in non-working cracks to reduce water infiltration. This is usually performed by asphalt paving companies near me after routing and sealing or overbanding in traffic areas.
The adage “prevention is better than cure” rings true regarding road maintenance. Addressing minor asphalt issues like potholes before they become too large is critical to ensure continued roadway longevity.
A popular and cost-effective method for repairing potholes is patching. This method involves cleaning the pothole, filling it with cold-lay material, and compacting the surface with a hand tamper or truck tires. The resulting repair is durable and long-lasting.
Another pothole repair option is the “remove and replace” approach. This method removes the entire pothole section and replaces it with new pavement, allowing for a clean slate. While time-consuming and expensive, this method offers the most extended road lifespan and prevents future potholes from forming in that area or nearby. It also requires groundwork to compact the soil underneath the pavement.
Preventive maintenance techniques such as crack sealing help extend the service life of a roadway. This strategy provides a cost-effective alternative to significant rehabilitation techniques such as mills and overlays.
Narrow cracks can be repaired by stuffing foam backer rods into them, then filling them with the appropriate repair material. This repair method helps prevent cracks from reoccurring by preventing water penetration.
Infrared asphalt repair is another permanent pothole treatment. A rig is used to heat the pothole and the surrounding area. Then a warmed patch is placed into the pothole and compacted by hand or machine. This repair technique bonds to the existing pavement creating a thermal bond and resists water penetration.
This method is a more labor-intensive and equipment-intensive alternative to throw-and-roll repair but has proven highly durable. After the patch is placed, a tack coat is applied to the surface. This tack seals the patch and the existing pavement to prevent traffic from tracking through the patch.