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What Causes Potholes in Asphalt?

Published
May 7, 2019

We have all swerved out of the way of them, with some roads worse than others. Potholes are all over the place, especially in colder climates such as the Midwest. Distresses in pavement increase because of aging asphalt and heavy traffic conditions. If the cracks in the pavement are not maintained in a timely manner, they compound leading to deep potholes. The winter does significant damage to asphalt, read further to find out what causes potholes and the best method to repair damaged asphalt.

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Cause

Potholes are caused from the expansion and contraction of water as it enters the pavement and into the ground. The water freezing then thawing combined with the weight of vehicles driving over the weak spots creates a breakdown in the pavement. This is what turns minor cracks into bigger potholes. Majority of potholes are formed in the late winter heading into early spring because of the amount of excess water that is under the pavement.

Repair

Now onto the steps to properly repair damaged asphalt, specifically potholes. First is to clean the pothole of all dirt and debris completely because anything that is left may cause the repair to be weakened.Next is to heat up the pothole to remove excess moisture that is still in the pavement. This will soften up the asphalt and allow for the new mix to be applied. If the pothole needs to be reshaped, after it is heated it is much easier to rejuvenate or remove old asphalt.

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Then once the pothole is heated, it is time to apply the new asphalt. There are a variety of mixes, but hot mix asphalt is the standard. After applying the new asphalt be sure to compact the material down to create a bond with the old asphalt and limit water penetration. After that allow the asphalt to cool down and you now have a repaired pothole.

Infrared Patching

At PLM we offer technology known as infrared patching. This process uses infrared heat technology to make a section of asphalt hot enough to be a workable material again. Then we rake the area and add new asphalt and grade as necessary to fill potholes or achieve proper drainage.Then we rake the area, add new asphalt and rejuvenator, then compact the mix together and complete the process. This method of patching has no seams which means it is immediately water tight. At PLM we operate 2 full time infrared asphalt patching crews to meet the needs of our customers. Give us a call to discuss your project and receive a quote from one of our representatives.

 

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