Crack Sealing: What it Is And Why It's Important For Your BusinessPosted on March 26, 2019 by Rafael Cantillo
First Impressions are important in any business but sometimes we may forget the visual effect of our customers' first encounters with our companies: the parking area. Imagine pulling into a parking lot near you and finding it visually unappealing and structurally unsound. How would this make you feel about the service the business owner is providing? In many parts of the world that might not matter however in Orange County California there is a huge emphasis on quality, and it starts in your parking lot.
While most property owners are fully aware of the importance of a nice storefront to make a good impression, the condition of their parking lots may fall to the wayside, sometimes being ignored until expensive repairs become necessary.
Make no mistake, however: Your parking lot is like a welcome mat for your customers and is their first indication of what they can expect from you and your business. If a business takes the care to prevent cracks and potholes for their customer, this is a pretty good start to making a good first impression.
But making a good first impression is not the only reason to assess your parking lot for cracks or distress. Future expenses, the risk of injuries, or the chance of actual property damage to those driving on your parking area are additional reasons to take a second look at your asphalt parking lot.
Causes of Cracks in Asphalt
There are many components that contribute to the quality and, thus, the life of asphalt. According to experts, there is approximately 70 billion pounds of asphalt used in America each year and the durability of asphalt varies depending on:
- The asphalt's composition and the crude oil source
- The type and amount of aggregate used
- Presence of moisture
- Construction method
- Traffic/Load Volume
A major expense that comes from unrepaired cracks in asphalt comes from the entry of moisture into the substrate of the asphalt. Once the surface of an asphalt parking lot is cracked, water can enter and create more serious damage, including potholes as the base becomes more and more deteriorated.
Types of Asphalt Failure
There are many types of asphalt failures that are caused by various things. With Southern California's high temperatures and heavy traffic loads, asphalt parking lots can quickly become distressed.
Take a walk around your parking lot and look for:
- Transverse cracks - Often these are the first types to appear and should be addressed as soon as possible. These cracks commonly appear perpendicular to the center-line of the asphalt and can be caused by asphalt layer shrinkage or reflection from an existing crack.
- Reflection Cracking - These cracks happen when old pavement moves and form over joints or cracks in the pavement or in an overlay of asphalt pavement that has deteriorated.
- Alligator cracks (also known as Fatigue Cracking) - so called because they are a collection of small squares that resemble the skin of an alligator. Alligator cracking is most commonly the result of heavy traffic loads that have led to the deterioration of the asphalt by weakening the base but can be caused by multiple factors.
- Block Cracks - These are a collection of rectangular cracks that vary in size but allow moisture to enter the pavement and cause erosion and are usually the result of a poor mixture of asphalt materials.
When To Seal Cracks
Ideally, cracks in asphalt should be addressed immediately to prevent them from expanding and causing additional damage. As a rule, cracks that are more than an inch wide would require more extensive (and expensive) repair so we suggest doing regular inspections of your parking area as a preemptive way to prevent additional distress.
Asphalt Magazine advises that crack sealing is "probably the single most important maintenance activity" because this preventative maintenance prevents the erosion of the asphalt. Think of a crack as a scratch on your skin: If left untreated, it becomes infected and spreads, becoming a much bigger problem.
Such is the way of asphalt cracks. Once the surface of asphalt is damaged, water can invade the base and slowly deteriorate the asphalt leading to larger cracks and, eventually, potholes which are considerably more expensive to repair. With the rubberized material found in crack sealant, water is blocked from entering into the asphalt and helps to preserve the pavement.
Crack Sealing Vs. Filling
Be advised that larger cracks require a different repair method and there is a difference between crack sealing and crack filling (although some people use them interchangeably). In reality, crack filling is used to fill the cracks of what is called "working cracks" - that is, cracks that show movement of more than 2.5 millimeters. It is used to both reinforce the pavement and reduce water penetration which would cause them to expand and cause further damage.
Conversely, working cracks are those that show little to no movement and are best repaired by using the crack seal method. Applying a special rubberized material to the top of the cracks - not inside - that makes the pavement less penetrable by stopping the invasion of water, dirt, and debris that would cause further erosion and failure. And since this material is rubberized, it flexes and bends with the moving pavement.
Who Should Seal Asphalt Cracks?
While some individuals may try to do asphalt repairs on their own, it's always better to hire professionals who understand the composition of asphalt and have the proper tools, techniques, and experience to do asphalt repair professionally. Property owners are already busy enough with their day to day operations so hiring a local asphalt repair company saves time, money, and ensures your asphalt repairs are done properly. For more information on asphalt crack sealing, read our Crack Sealing FAQ.
Crack sealing can extend the life of your parking lot for years and, thus, save you time and money and this is the bottom line when it comes to asphalt crack sealing. At Empire Parking Lot Services, we pride ourselves on our expertise and experience which is clear by the number of great customer reviews we have. We invite you to contact us today to find out how we can make your parking lot a safer and more customer-friendly place to park.