Your Options for Fixing Aging Asphalt

(Hint: Some are Easier Than You Think)
Two to three decades, the average lifespan of asphalt, sound like a very long time. That is the average lifespan of well-paved asphalt. Weather, usage, time and if the material was properly paved in the first place affect just how long your asphalt will last and how much repair and maintenance will be required over the years before it needs total replacement.

Many signs of aging asphalt can be easily addressed without ever uttering the “R” word – replacement. To keep from replacing asphalt before absolutely necessary, you have to know what to look out for, what signs of aging mean and most importantly, what signs mean repair and which mean replacement.

Your Asphalt is Cracking
Why does asphalt crack? The culprits range from water penetration and seasonal freezing and thawing to the quality of the original asphalt paving work.

Regardless of how small or insignificant they seem, cracks in asphalt need immediate repair. Quickly sealing asphalt cracks doesn’t give them time to grow into larger cracks and potholes that are more expensive to repair. Smaller cracks are normal wear and tear; however, larger cracks often indicate there are bigger underlying issues to address. Larger cracks in asphalt should be inspected by professionals who can get to the cause and mitigate it.

What are the consequences of ignoring small asphalt cracks? Rain, snow, and ice water seeps into the crack. This water displaces the asphalt and the crack widens and/or deepens. The water also relaxes the asphalt base and weakens its strength.

You See Tire Ruts (Grooves) in Your Asphalt
Ruts or grooves in asphalt are a result of wheel loads – the heavier the vehicles driving on the asphalt, the better chance for deeper ruts. Like cracks, ruts in asphalt need to be immediately repaired to ensure a safe driving experience. Deep ruts collect water and create a hydroplaning hazard.

Beyond safety issues for drivers, there are the benefits of avoiding costlier repair work in the future and being forced to prematurely replace the asphalt to consider. Any rut deeper than one centimeter should be leveled out and repaired.

Asphalt Repair to Keep Cracks and Ruts at Bay
Hot rubber crack sealing protects your pavement by preventing water from flowing in to the crack and disrupting the base and soil beneath the asphalt. Cracks are sealed by filling them prior to sealcoating. Crack sealing is a necessary part of every good preventative maintenance program and should be done annually.

Plan on asphalt sealcoating every two years… four years maximum if the asphalt isn’t heavily used and shows little to no signs of cracking or rutting. Sealcoating, performed after any needed crack filling, gives asphalt a new look, plus protects the underlying base. On the surface, a new coat of sealant acts as a protective layer against weather, the sun and spills.

An overlay of a new 1 ½- to 2-inch layer of asphalt can be added on top of the existing surface if there is more damage than crack sealing and sealcoating can effectively fix. Performed professionally, an overlay adds a decade or more to the asphalt’s lifespan at a fraction of the cost of a total asphalt replacement. We use Tack-Coat to ensure the best adhesion of the new layer to the old layer of asphalt. This asphalt repair still requires any cracks and potholes to be repaired prior to overlaying the new asphalt layer.

Milling involves removing the asphalt’s surface (up to 1 ½ inches) and replacing it with new asphalt or reclaimed asphalt from the milling process. Though more expensive than crack sealing, sealcoating and overlaying, milling is a more affordable option when it’s necessary to keep the height as-is due to drainage or other reasons. Not only is milling budget-friendly, but it’s also environmentally conscious.

Asphalt Replacement is in Order When Damage is Beyond Repair
Since asphalt replacement is a financial and somewhat disruptive undertaking, contact professional asphalt contractors for an expert opinion on the base’s condition. When an asphalt surface is coming near its end of life OR a quarter to a third of it requires milling or overlaying, replacement is more effective and affordable in the long run. The good news is that a new asphalt surface will last another two to three decades with proper asphalt repair and asphalt maintenance.

McConnell & Associates provides asphalt service, repair, maintenance and replacement across the Midwest and help our customers extract the most value from their investments. Between our services and maintenance programs, you can delay costly asphalt replacement for years.