Being Proactive About Pavement Maintenance in Autumn

The most common method of maintaining pavement surfaces is a so-called “worst-first” strategy. Mostly it is not an intentional process, but property owners and managers take a quick survey of their pavement and want to address the areas that look the worst. Unfortunately, this is usually not the best long-term, budget-conscious approach.

Pavements that are in good shape are much cheaper to maintain than those in bad shape (by a factor of 10 or more). Consider, for example, a 10 foot long crack. That will cost about $1/foot to crack seal, so $10. If left untreated, that crack could develop into a 10×3 asphalt failure (or bigger) requiring patching. At approximately $6/square foot to repair, 30 square feet will cost $180 to repair. As such, the top priority in any budget should be to first extend the life-span of good pavements for as long as possible.

Water intrusion is the chief cause of pavement problems. Preventing this intrusion and diverting water to appropriate collection points should be a top priority, especially as autumn and the heavy rains approach. Potential solutions include crack filling, repair of or installation of new catch basins or trench drains, eliminating puddles or installation of berms to divert water flow.

As pavements age, distress mechanisms begin to take their toll. Cracking and other forms of disintegration begin to appear as the primary causes of deterioration, then secondary factors often contribute to additional amounts of deterioration. For instance, once cracking begins to appear in the pavement surface, moisture can enter the pavement structure and accelerate the deterioration caused by the initial distress mechanism. The timely application of pavement maintenance techniques serves to help prevent or slow down the effects of both primary and secondary distress mechanisms.

The best time of year to perform crack filling is in the fall and spring because crack thickness is at its median point. Asphalt material expands in hot weather and contracts in cold weather, so in the spring and fall, cracks will not be at their widest or narrowest. If we fill cracks in the summer when cracks are at their narrowest, the amount of material in the crack may not be sufficient to keep the crack sealed when the pavement contracts in the winter. Likewise, if we fill cracks in the winter, we may have too much material such that in the summer, the material will bulge out and be increasingly likely to be torn out by crossing vehicle traffic.

Please contact us if you’d like to schedule an analysis of your pavement.

If trapped with nowhere to flow, water can cause breathtaking damage.

Although this crack was treated in the past, it will require periodic resealing.

Our crews performing crack filling with a hot-apply, rubberized sealer to exposed cracks and joints.

The finished product after cracks have been sealed.

Damage around catch basins should be repaired immediately because it is a safety hazard and the “basin” under the grate can be damaged, which is very costly to replace.

This shows the concrete “basin” part of the catch basin, which sits underneath the pavement surface.

This dramatically shows how quickly moisture will penetrate through exposed cracks in the asphalt, which will further weaken the sub-base of this pavement.

“Berms” are very inexpensive ways to divert water flow to appropriate areas for collection.

A so-called “trench drain” is a good way to collect water over a wide area that is relatively flat or susceptible to puddling.