Asphalt Pothole Repair Houston, TX

As the weather shifts from cold, to mild, to hot, exposed pavement is stressed in the process. Unsurprisingly, this stress can produce various forms of asphalt damage, including potholes.

While small potholes may seem like no big deal, they’re a sign that the pavement’s condition is worsening. That’s why pavement contractors recommend a prompt inspection and maintenance if potholes are present on the property.

What Causes Potholes to Form in Asphalt?

Asphalt is a reliably durable material, and its flexibility allows it to adjust to a range of weather and traffic conditions. As such, it should remain in good condition for decades following installation – as long as the pavement is properly maintained. If asphalt maintenance is lacking, something as small as a few hairline cracks may eventually lead to potholes.

In addition to poor maintenance, potholes may form due to the following:

  • Water intrusion – Water is asphalt’s nemesis. Water molecules target the chemical bonds that link the asphalt’s binder and aggregate, and this causes the asphalt to deteriorate. Eventually, this deterioration causes the pavement’s surface layers to fail and cave in.
  • Traffic conditions – Excessive loading can distort asphalt and leave it vulnerable to water and weather. Also, if the pavement’s subsurface layers have already experienced water-related deterioration, normal loading conditions can cause the asphalt surface to fracture and quickly subside.
  • Improper mixing, installation or curing – Sometimes, it’s not environmental conditions that lead to potholes, but how the asphalt is mixed or installed. A poor-quality mix won’t be durable enough to handle normal loading conditions, which can lead to early failure. Poor installation can also result in uneven asphalt thickness or poor adhesion between layers, both of which can lead to potholes.

Three Reasons to Repair Asphalt Potholes as Soon as Possible

If your pavement does have a pothole problem, a quick response is merited. Why are prompt repairs so important? Here are three reasons:

  • Potholes may lead to worse asphalt damage – Potholes are like massive gaps in your pavement’s armor. They allow the free intrusion of water and debris into the pavement, causing subsurface failures to spread from the pothole and ruin larger areas of asphalt.
    That means more potholes, larger potholes, and worse. Ideally, asphalt pavement may last up to 30 years before full replacement is required, but unaddressed potholes can shave many years off of that estimate. A dollar spent on repairs now will save 5-10 future dollars in more extensive repairs or replacement.
  • Potholes are a safety issue for motorists and pedestrians – Potholes can get big enough to pose a safety threat to traffic and people. A hole just a few inches deep is enough to trip up pedestrians – which is an injury liability. And larger potholes can bust a wheel, bend an axle, or dent a transmission pan. These are liabilities that property owners could do without.
  • Potholes wreck a property’s curb appeal – Whether it’s fair or not, people walking or driving by commercial properties will make quick judgments based on what they see. And if they see an asphalt parking lot pockmarked with potholes, they may assume carelessness or sloppiness on the property owner’s part. Again, that may not be fair, but business owners know the value of a good first impression, and potholes can damage it.

How the Houston Pavement Professionals Repair Potholes

If potholes are present, it’s time to call in the experts. And once the experts are onsite, they’ll inspect the damage and assess its severity. If repair services are recommended, the exact repair method will probably be a patch made from hot mix. Here’s what the process looks like in greater detail:

  • Assess where the pavement has failed – First, the pavement team will inspect the pavement’s condition and determine where deeper failures are present. Typically, the damage extends from the potholes to some degree, and this will need to be cut out to restore full-depth stability.
  • Make precise cuts around the failed pavement areas – Once the pavement team has identified all weak spots, they’ll make precise cuts around those areas using sawcutting equipment. These diamond-tipped saws are designed for tough materials like asphalt, and they’re used to isolate the damaged asphalt from the still-functional pavement.
  • Extract the damaged pavement down to the base – Now that the failed asphalt has been separated, it’s removed from the surrounding pavement using an extractor or a crew armed with shovels. Once the damaged asphalt is removed, the resulting hole is cleaned out so it can be worked on further.
  • Repair any base issues and stabilize the new base – Base problems are behind most potholes and they’ll need to be addressed to prevent the pothole from forming again. If needed, the base is stabilized by combining cement with the subgrade soil. New base course may also be installed.
  • Tack coat the base and vertical surfaces inside the hole – The base is stable and ready for new hot mix. To ensure that hot mix adheres properly to the existing pavement, the asphalt team will apply tack coat to all surfaces inside the repair area. Tack coat is made from asphalt binder and acts like a “glue” that holds old and new pavement together – which is especially helpful when the asphalt is under load.
  • Roll hot mix into the hole and compact – Last comes the hot mix, which is heated prior to placement and rolled into the patch area. It’s smoothed and leveled out, then compacted using a roller.
  • Allow the new patch time to cure – Fortunately, asphalt patches are ready soon after installation. In most cases, asphalt patches can take vehicle and pedestrian traffic within hours of placement.

Cutting and patching is a common spot repair, and one that asphalt experts are deeply familiar with. It can typically be handled in a single day and usually without disrupting vehicle or pedestrian traffic. As such, it’s a popular repair tactic, especially when the asphalt is in good enough condition that larger repairs aren’t necessary.

Potholes Are Much More Than a Nuisance

As long as asphalt has been around, so have potholes. They’re commonplace, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored. Potholes are a sign of deeper asphalt issues – issues that can compromise more of the pavement if they aren’t addressed. Fixing a pothole now means saving money on more expensive repairs down the line.

Houston asphalt pothole repair is a quick fix for experienced pavement crews. Most jobs can be completed quickly without affecting nearby pavement or traffic flows.

If potholes are quickly turning your asphalt into an obstacle course, a reputable asphalt contractor can restore your pavement to its original, pothole-free condition.

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