Potholes: What Causes Them and How to Fix Them

January 17, 2019 10:31 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Potholes are costly problems. Every year they cost drivers millions of dollars in flat tires, busted shocks, cracked wheels and more. And that’s just on the roads—you also have to take into account pothole formation on driveways and parking lots and the damage they cause. So, what are potholes exactly, and what causes them to form on roads and other paved surfaces? An experienced asphalt contractor in Washington addresses these subjects below.

About potholes

Motorists, passengers and pedestrians alike see potholes every day. They are natural underground cavities that form as a result of the roadway or surface eroding or being worn down. While asphalt is a strong paving material, its integrity weakens over time as vehicles drive over it. Weather conditions like heavy rain and frequent freeze-thaw cycles also wreak havoc on asphalt. Ultimately, the more these factors are present, the more potholes will form.

Top causes of potholes

When the pavement or the material beneath it can no longer support the weight of traffic, potholes form, sometimes seemingly overnight, but often more gradually over a period of time. The two main causes of potholes are water and traffic. Long periods of moisture, like winter snowstorms or spring showers, are not asphalt’s friend.

Rain and melting ice and snow seep into cracks in the pavement, turning the soil below it into mud, which leads to erosion, as the paved area can no longer support itself. Between repeated freeze-thaw cycles, the ground heating up and traffic moving overhead, there’s no doubt that the pavement will be pushed further apart. It’s true that the ground will return to its previous level once temperatures rise; however, the pavement will remain elevated, causing a gap, which is the precursor to a pothole. Vehicles driving over these gaps contribute to the creation of potholes, which occur as the surface cracks and crumbles into the gap below.

How to deal with potholes

If you own an asphalt driveway or parking lot, your best defense in the fight against pothole formation is preventative maintenance. Believe it or not, keeping your surfaces clean can extend the life of your pavement. Sweep up debris on a regular basis and clean up oil spots or other fluid spills as soon as possible. Make sure cracks get filled, preferably when they are still small and shallow, and before they’ve had a chance to spread. Once cracks grow, they can turn quickly into potholes.

Unfortunately, gaps, cracks and potholes in pavement are unavoidable, especially as time passes and when maintenance is not taken seriously. If at this point the surface is not completely riddled with damage, you might be able to move forward with repairs. There are quick patches that can offer a temporary fix, or you may need to remove and replace entire sections of pavement for a more permanent repair option.

The team at Jimini Paving would love to provide more information about asphalt repair and paving services. Call us to speak with a qualified asphalt contractor in Washington anytime!

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