What Is the Biggest Enemy of Your Asphalt Parking Lot?

We are asked many questions about asphalt parking lot maintenance. One question we are often asked is "What is the best way to protect my investment?" The parking lot is one of the first places customers and employees see when they visit your site, so it's important to keep it in good condition. Regular maintenance can save you money in the long run by prolonging the life of your asphalt.

While asphalt is a very durable material, it is still susceptible to damage from the elements and regular wear and tear. Heat, sunlight, rain, snow, and ice can all cause deterioration, and cars driving on the surface can also cause cracks and potholes. However, if we had to choose one element that would take the title of being the biggest enemy of asphalt, it would be water.

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Why Is Water Asphalt Paving's Biggest Enemy?

Water is essential for all life, but it can be very damaging to asphalt. While asphalt is known for its water-resistive qualities, people are often surprised to inspect their parking lot and find that water has taken a toll on the asphalt.

Why is water the most destructive element to asphalt pavement? The integrity of asphalt pavement is constantly challenged by water. Pooling water penetrates cracks and begins to erode the fine aggregates underneath the asphalt. This creates pockets that eventually form into potholes as heavy vehicle traffic passes over them.

Expansion and contraction caused by freeze-thaw cycles also create cracks in the surface. These cracks provide an entry point for water, which can quickly erode the asphalt. Over time, water damage can cause the asphalt to crumble and degrade, leading to an unsightly and potentially dangerous parking lot. Water can also damage asphalt by causing it to oxidize. This is when the pavement starts to turn gray and brittle. Once oxidation begins, it accelerates the deterioration process.

How Does Water Cause Damage to Asphalt Parking Lots?

Now that you know water is the primary cause of damage to asphalt, let's take a closer look at how it causes this damage. No matter what type of water(rain, seawater, freshwater) is present, it will always cause some level of damage to asphalt. 

Improper Drainage

One of the most common ways water damage occurs is from improper drainage around asphalt pavement. When water isn't directed away from the pavement, it will pool on the surface and seep into cracks.

There are a few different ways to ensure proper drainage:

  • Use asphalt with lower permeability. This will help to prevent water from seeping in from the start.
  • Install a drainage system. This can be anything from a French drain to catch basins.
  • Make sure the grading around the pavement slopes away from it.

If you already have asphalt pavement that isn't draining properly, milling the surface may improve drainage. Milling creates a textured surface that will help water to run off the pavement.

Uneven Compaction

Another issue that can arise from water damage is uneven compaction. When the subgrade isn't properly compacted, it will settle unevenly over time. This will cause the asphalt to crack and form potholes.

Compaction is a key step in the asphalt paving process and should not be skipped. If you're unsure if your subgrade was properly compacted, it's best to consult with a professional. A professional will be able to assess the situation and advise you on the best course of action.

The best way to correct uneven compaction is to hire a professional to compact the subgrade. Milling the surface of the asphalt and recompacting the subgrade will create a level surface that is less likely to settle and crack over time.

Poor Quality Asphalt Mixes

Not all asphalt mixes are created equal. Some mixes are more resistant to water damage than others. Parking lots that are built with lower-quality mixes are more susceptible to water damage.

Parking lots that have heavy traffic, such as those in shopping malls or airports, should be built with high-quality mixes. These mixes are more durable and will stand up to constant wear and tear.

If you're not sure what kind of mix was used to build your parking lot, a professional can help you to determine this. They will also be able to advise you on the best way to proceed. When choosing an asphalt mix for your parking lot, be sure to ask about water resistance.

Pavement Rutting

Pavement rutting is another issue that can be caused by water damage. Rutting occurs when tire tracks start to form in the asphalt. This is most common in areas where there is a lot of traffic.

Rutting can be prevented by using an asphalt mix that has a high aggregate content. This will make the pavement more resistant to tire tracks. If rutting has already occurred, milling the surface of the asphalt may help to improve the appearance. However, it's important to note that this will not fix the underlying issue. The only way to truly fix rutting is to repave the parking lot.

Water damage is a serious issue that can cause several problems for asphalt pavement. If you suspect that your parking lot has water damage, it's important to take action right away. The sooner you address the issue, the less damage will be done.

How Empire Parking Lot Services Can Help

There are a few different ways to prevent water damage to your asphalt parking lot. The best way to protect your investment is to be proactive and take steps to ensure proper drainage and compaction. At Empire Parking Lot Services, we will grade the asphalt to help divert water. Diverting water helps to prevent pooling and seeping, which can cause damage to the pavement. Concrete flowlines can also be created to help divert water away from the property.

Concrete flowlines are concrete channels that are placed around the perimeter of a parking lot. They are designed to catch the water that runs off the property and redirect it away from the asphalt. Flowlines are a great way to prevent water damage, as they help to keep the water away from the pavement. They are also relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

If you're concerned about water damage to your parking lot, contact Empire Parking Lot Services today. We will be happy to assess the situation and recommend the best course of action. We have the experience and expertise needed to prevent water damage in your parking lot. Don't wait until it's too late, contact us at 714-633-0300 to have our experienced team assist you with your next asphalt repair project.

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