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Asphalt Maintenance Tips for Spring

As spring approaches, signs of damage may start appearing on your asphalt pavement. Harsh winter weather may have caused cracks or potholes to appear, and if those issues are already present, it only takes one hard freeze to make them much worse.

Spring also means the wet weather is returning to the Gulf Coast – with May and June typically being the rainiest months of the year in Houston. Water is a primary threat to asphalt parking lots, driveways, walkways and streets – so it’s time to prepare your pavement.

Here are seven asphalt maintenance tips for Spring that will ensure your asphalt is ready for the warmer and wetter weather.

1) Give the Asphalt a Thorough Cleaning

If the cold weather delayed your pavement cleaning schedule, it’s time to start it up again. Dirt, debris, garbage, and other incompressible materials can work their way into cracks and put additional stress on your asphalt paving. A good power sweeping can take care of any surface debris and power washing the asphalt will clear away chemical stains if the right detergents are used. However, care is required when power washing asphalt as it can damage the pavement if power washing equipment isn’t properly calibrated.

2) Remove Any Excess Vegetation Around the Asphalt

Weeds, grass, tree roots and other vegetation will slowly wrap their way around the asphalt’s edges. Though it takes some time for vegetation to do damage, plants allowed to grow into the pavement will eventually pull it apart and worsen any cracking. When your asphalt was first installed, your pavement contractor would have cleared the site of any excess vegetation, but ongoing care is necessary to keep the plants at bay. It is important for property owners to invest in regular edging and landscaping to protect the pavement’s edges.

3) Perform a Detailed Visual Inspection

The best thing property owners can do for their asphalt is monitor its condition. If there are any underlying problems with the asphalt paving, there will be signs on the asphalt’s surface. Severe cracking – especially fatigue (alligator) and reflection cracking – potholes, warping, raveling (aggregate loss) and depressions all indicate issues that must be addressed. If these problems are handled early enough, they will prevent further damage to the pavement’s integrity.

4) Schedule Crack or Pothole Repairs

If significant cracking or potholes are detected during your visual inspection, both should be addressed before the heavy rains arrive. Cracks and potholes create a path for water intrusion, which will eventually compromise the pavement down to the base.

Experienced pavement contractors can determine if your pavement’s cracks are extensive enough to merit repair. If so, they can be sealed up with a rubber-like compound that will protect the asphalt while allowing it to flex like normal during warmer temperatures. Potholes are typically addressed by removing the failed asphalt around the pothole, stabilizing the base, placing new asphalt, and compacting it. When done early, pothole repairs are cost effective and long lasting.

5) Make Sure the Asphalt Paving Drains Well

All pavement can be damaged by excessive water runoff, but asphalt is particularly susceptible to water intrusion. When water reaches the asphalt’s subsurface layers, it eats away at the pavement’s binders and erodes its aggregates. This will cause the asphalt to rapidly deteriorate as the pavement’s deeper layers collapse and sink in.

To keep water runoff from backing up onto your asphalt driveway, parking lot or other pavement, inspect all drainage elements. Confirm that the drainage is not blocked by debris. Also, confirm that your drainage elements are in otherwise good shape and have not been damaged by impact, weather or wear.

6) Invest Asphalt Sealcoating

Asphalt requires sealcoating every other year, though this depends on local weather patterns and how the pavement is used. By sealcoating the pavement on this schedule, it will extend the asphalt’s life while improving its durability, surface texture, and appearance.

During sealcoating, your pavement contractor will spray the sealcoat directly to the asphalt’s surface in an even layer. Two thinner layers of sealcoat are preferred to a single, thick coat, to promote better drying.

7) Consider Restriping the Asphalt

Following a long fall and winter, the pavement markings and striping may need to be redone for visibility and safety’s sake. This includes the parking lot markings, fire lanes, access aisles, handicap markings and traffic flow arrows. These surface markings are essential to guide motorists through your parking lot or down the road, so if they have faded with the seasons, the spring is a good time to redo the pavement striping.

Why is Spring Ideal for Asphalt Maintenance?

On-time pavement maintenance is the recommendation year-round, but the spring is an ideal time for asphalt maintenance for the following reasons:

  • Asphalt repairs are more effective in the spring – Asphalt repairs can be a challenge during cold weather, as hot mix asphalt may cure too quickly and without achieving the desired strength. For this reason, many municipalities and property owners put off asphalt repairs until the spring.

  • Winter weather can be hard on pavement – Although ice and snow are rare along the Gulf Coast, it only takes one severe winter storm to wreak havoc on asphalt pavement. If water enters the pavement and then freezes, it puts intense internal pressures on the asphalt and can rapidly worsen cracks and potholes.

  • Spring maintenance readies your pavement for the summer – Traffic tends to ramp up during the summer once school is out and families hit the road. By preparing your asphalt in the spring, it will be ready for that wave of increased summer traffic.

An Experienced Pavement Contractor Can Handle Springtime Asphalt Maintenance and Repairs

Spring is the ideal season for Houston pavement maintenance, long before the heavy Gulf Coast rains arrive in the early summer. A reputable pavement contractor can provide a thorough inspection, cleaning, and any necessary maintenance or repairs to ensure the pavement is ready for the hot and rainy weather on the way.