Just In Time for Fall: An Asphalt Maintenance Refresher Course

Asphalt isn’t just laid down and left to the elements. There is plenty to be done to prepare it for the extremes it will face when winter comes barreling through. We’ve got a few tips for you to take advantage of as a refresher on how to keep your asphalt surfaces in good shape — no matter how rough a winter Mother Nature has in store for you.

Have your Asphalt Cleaned Regularly

A good cleaning every month is recommended. This improves the asphalt lifespan and its durability. You can also prevent your asphalt surface from becoming stained over time by ensuring debris such as leaves or garbage is not left to sit.

Pay close attention to any oil or fuel spills that happen on your asphalt. If you notice any spots, clean them immediately. Putting this off will quickly wear away at your pavement’s surface.

It’s always cheaper in the long run to maintain your asphalt than to replace it, so if there are fuel or oil stains, having them removed will prevent future damage and push back that distant looming replacement date.

Repair Potholes Immediately

Potholes are born in four steps:

  1. Rain or snow soaks into the soil below the pavement’s surface.
  2. The water freezes when the temperature drops. This causes the ground to expand and push the asphalt upward.
  3. When the temperature rises again, the frozen water thaws and the ground level returns to normal. However, the pavement often remains raised, leaving a gap between the pavement and the top of the ground.
  4. When a car drives over the cavity, it collapses and falls into the hollow space left in between, creating a new pothole.

Because potholes tend to spread quickly, it is important to have them repaired as soon as possible. Many asphalt repair specialists follow eight basic steps to repair potholes:

  1. Dig out all debris until you reach the subsoil. This includes excess rock and dirt.
  2. Fill the hole in with a paver, compacting it every 2-4 inches with a tamper until you are within 2 inches of the finished grade.
  3. Cut out the edges of the rough hole using a wet saw with a diamond blade. This creates a cleaner surface to work with.
  4. Dig out all remaining excess rocks, dirt, and other debris.
  5. Fill the hole with a mixture of asphalt binder and stone (blacktop repair).
  6. Lay the blacktop repair in layers 1.5 inches thick and smooth them out before each subsequent layer.
  7. Compact each layer so the patches meet the edges.
  8. Leave it to sit for up to 4 weeks before driving over it.

Eliminate Standing Water

You don’t have to stand there with a hair dryer set to high or a roll of paper towels to dry off pavement. This is a matter of checking whether or not the water that collects on your asphalt surface is running off properly, and if it is, there should not be any standing water. Here’s how to avoid it:

  1. The Asphalt Institute recommends a transverse slope of 1.5-3% on all pavement surfaces, and 3-6% on shoulders.
  2. Hire a contractor. Most people won’t recognize the signs of a blockage, buildup, or any of the other issues that lead to excessive standing water on your lot. Bring someone in with the expertise to do so and you won’t have to worry about paying larger sums down the road to replace damaged sections of your lot.
  3. An experienced contractor will likely deal with your water ponding issue by milling and paving to create a gradient on the surface, as well as by installing a leveling fit.

These are the basics to get you moving. If you are unsure of what you are looking at yourself, it always helps to talk to a professional!

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