As versatile and amazing as asphalt is, there’s something that basically every asphalt surface will develop sooner or later: Potholes. If you’re driven on any American road, you’ve probably found yourself steering out of the way, trying to miss a pothole. You’ve probably also had the experience of running into one head on – and the sensation isn’t pleasant. As the wheels and shocks absorb the blow, you wonder how long it’s going to be until you bring the vehicle in for an expensive repair.
Speaking of repairs, how are potholes dealt with? There are actually a number of ways to repair potholes, and the method of repair will depend on a few key factors.
1. How big is the pothole?
The size of the pothole, both in terms of depth and surface area, will play a big role in determining what repair method is best. A proper repair usually involves some degree of excavation to ensure that all of the weak or crumbling pavement around the pothole is removed. This allows a better joint or seam between the new material and the existing material. Smaller potholes or cracks may be sealed with filler or patched using a minimal of excavation and either cold or hot asphalt filler.
2. What’s the setting?
Some potholes need to be alleviated quickly, even if it’s not the most “durable” repair. For example, you’ve probably seen city crews out on a street or highway near you, hurriedly shoveling a dry asphalt mixture into a series of potholes and patting it down. This the fastest and crudest method of repair. If there are potholes in a parking lot in front of a business, or a residential driveway, you’re going to see a more comprehensive repair involving hot asphalt, or even asphalt injections in some cases.
3. What kind of equipment is available?
Obviously, the quality of pothole repair will also depend on what kind of equipment is available. Experienced and reputable asphalt crews will have the latest professional equipment to achieve the highest level of repairs. For example, there is something called infrared heater patching, which involves infrared heaters mounted on a truck. These heaters allow workers to heat the asphalt up to three inches deep. Rejuvenators are then worked into the existing pavement, and compacted.
Finding professionals who know potholes
Anybody can throw a wet or dry asphalt mixture into a hole and pack it down. This can be done with little more than a wheelbarrow and a shovel. But the less experience and skill that goes into a repair, the less effective the repair is likely to be. Asphalt and concrete specialists who have repaired potholes for many years, and have seen every type of repair on every type of surface, have an integral knowledge of how to find the best solution for any given pothole or crack. It’s also important to note that asphalt surfaces installed by less experienced crews or individuals tend to break down more quickly – so hiring the best contractor in the first place could save you a lot of hassle down the road.