Asphalt pavement. It’s pavement. Cars and trucks drive on it. It’s got to be pretty durable, right? Yes, to an extent. Your asphalt pavement’s longevity depends on whether you take preventative measures to find and repair any problems early on. Ignored, problems wear away at your asphalt pavement’s integrity, and what would’ve been quick, easy and cheap to repair back then turns into major, expensive work now.
Again, it’s durable asphalt pavement. How much maintenance does it need? And how often? Think of asphalt pavement maintenance like vehicle maintenance. Similar to how vehicles depreciate as soon as they’re driven off the lot, your asphalt pavement begins to deteriorate as soon as it’s laid down. The sun’s UV rays, rain, ice and snow, along with the weight from vehicles driving and parking on it, do a number on your asphalt. Exposure to the elements and wear and tear breaks down asphalt’s chemical bonds, which are key to the pavement’s strength. With its strength goes its new-asphalt color, and cracking occurs that allows moisture to penetrate and cause further damage.
An asphalt pavement maintenance program can prevent many long-term problems that cause permanent damage to your surfaces, and is far less expensive than a complete replacement of your asphalt prematurely.
Also, there are things you can do easily to protect your asphalt, and your investment, to extend its life and alleviate the need for pricier repairs. Here are a few tips from our pros.
- Sweep Up Debris and Mess
Don’t let trash, leaves, rocks and dirt accumulate on your asphalt pavement. Sweep up and remove the debris and mess on a regular basis for two reasons. One, sweeping extends the life of your pavement because debris, when on surfaces, can redirect or block water’s natural run-off pattern. Pooling water can soak into the asphalt pavement, making it soft, which makes it more prone to cracks and potholes. Two, sweeping keeps your pavement looking nice. Just like your building’s interior floors are swept regularly, your asphalt pavement requires sweeping too.
Whoever sweeps your pavement should keep an eye out for any signs of cracks, potholes or other surface anomalies, so that they can be repaired sooner and cheaper versus expensively later.
- Survey for Improper or Inadequate Drainage
Water and asphalt don’t mix. Standing water that seeps through asphalt, causing softening, is the most common reason asphalt pavement fails. After rain or snow, survey your asphalt surfaces for pooled water. If you see a lot of standing water, a drain install might be needed in order to correct the problem. And that is far more affordable and convenient than entirely replacing your asphalt surfaces sooner than necessary.
- Keep Sewers Clear of Debris Too
As discussed in Tip #2 inadequate drainage on your parking lot caused by a blocked drain is a death sentence for your asphalt. Keep sewers and drains clear of debris too.
- Kill Weeds
Sure, it’s just a weed now, but weeds sprout like… weeds, and soon they’ll be out of control if proper steps are not taken to keep them in check. It’s not the weeds that cause problems for your asphalt pavement. Weeds’ roots are the root of the problem because they spread underneath your pavement and eventually cause cracks (and tripping hazards). Cracks then leave openings for water to seep through and cause major damage.
- Fill Cracks
Same concept regarding killing weeds applies here, too. Fill even small cracks because small cracks can allow large amounts of water to seep in from rain or as snow or ice melt. Filling cracks of any size helps delay asphalt deterioration.
- Remove Oil Stains
Asphalt and oil don’t mix either. Oil drips, and their subsequent stains, effect asphalt pavement the same way other elements do. Oil breaks down asphalt’s bond, softening it and leaving it more prone to wear and tear. From home-based to industrial cleaners, there are several ways to remove oil from asphalt, and the sooner the better.
- Reorganize Your Parking Lines
If you walk the same path on carpet every day, the carpet becomes worn in those high traffic areas. The same goes for your asphalt pavement. If you notice traffic areas are creating worn spots on your asphalt pavement, consider repainting the stripes to relieve pressure from those areas.
Change traffic patterns for large vehicles like over-the-road trucks, garbage trucks and delivery trucks. Their weight on a constant area or traffic pattern puts a lot of stress on your pavement. Move trash bins close to the street and take deliveries from the street too, if possible, to avoid damaging your surfaces.
- Apply Sealcoat Occasionally
A sealcoat seals your asphalt surfaces and acts as a layer of protection against the above. How often your pavement requires a sealcoat depends on degree of upkeep, level of use and weather elements. Sealcoating not only seals small cracks or holes, but also it retains the asphalt’s aggregate.
- Invest in an Asphalt Maintenance Program Run by Pros
Using the car analogy again, you can wash, change wiper blades and check tire pressure by yourself, but most people wouldn’t attempt more in-depth maintenance or repair work for good reason. Maintenance or repair work is best left to professionals who do this every day for a living. McConnell & Associates lays and maintains asphalt pavement across the Midwest and we help our customers extract the most value from their investments. Between our maintenance programs and you implementing the tips here, you can delay costly asphalt replacement for years.