Six Signs that a Houston Parking Lot Needs to be Repaired

Six Signs that a Houston Parking Lot Needs to be Repaired

Parking lots are built to last for decades, but the occasional repair or bit of maintenance is expected along the way. It’s important to schedule this maintenance when it’s clearly necessary, as doing so will minimize the lot’s operating costs and likely prevent costly replacement before it is time.

For property owners, that means catching the early signs of pavement failure.

Neglecting Parking Lot Maintenance is More Costly

There are several reasons why consistent parking lot maintenance is important – protecting motorists and pedestrians, improving the lot’s appearance, and extending the pavement’s useful life. Cost reduction is always going to be a top priority for property owners. On-schedule maintenance is critical in this mission.

It’s a well-known truism among engineers that delaying repairs always leads to greater costs down the road. This is true of vehicles (oil change vs. engine failure), infrastructure (replacing a rusted bolt vs. structural failure), homes (switching out air filters vs. HVAC breakdown) and just about anything else that requires occasional maintenance.

This concept also holds true for pavement and parking lots. Industry-specific research – mostly by state departments of transportation – demonstrates this fact. For every $1 invested into the pavement when it’s in good condition, property owners will save between $4 and $10 in repairs when the pavement is in poor condition.

With that in mind, the smart move is to maintain the parking lot so that it remains in good condition for as long as possible. That comes down to regularly inspecting the lot and responding to emerging signs of damage as soon as possible.

Here are six signs that your parking lot warrants a professional inspection and possibly repairs.

1) The Parking Lot is Developing Noticeable Cracks

Minor cracking is inevitable in parking lots. The question is where cracking will emerge first, and determining this is a good reason to regularly inspect your lot.

Parking lot cracking can be caused by a variety of factors. Thermal stresses, improper curing and installation techniques, lack of edge support, drainage issues, soil shifting, overloading, and impact damage can all produce cracks. Expert pavement installers can control nearly all of these factors.

When cracks do emerge, a pavement repair team can identify the cause and determine whether the crack is “working,” which is a term for thicker cracks that are expanding or contracting. Ideally, repairs are performed before cracks get to this stage, so early intervention is important.

2) Potholes are Appearing in the Parking Lot

Potholes are an advanced sign of pavement distress and warrant immediate repair. They’re like open sores for your parking lot – access points for water and debris to intrude into the pavement and cause additional damage. Over time, potholes will widen and deepen, causing traffic problems on your lot and potentially damaging vehicles.

Asphalt is more prone to potholes compared to concrete, so if your parking lot is topped with an asphalt surface, keep an eye on its condition.

During asphalt pothole repair, the failed pavement is cut from the parking lot and hauled from the area. After stabilizing the exposed base, usually with cement or another additive, new asphalt is placed and compacted.

3) The Parking Lot is Uneven in Spots

Uneven pavement is a hazard to motorists and pedestrians, and it tends to emerge slowly. In fact, it may not be noticeable until someone trips over it.

When uneven pavement is present, extensive repairs are typically required. That’s because the base, which sits under the pavement, must be addressed as well.

Fortunately, most of the underlying causes of uneven pavement can be mitigated by an experienced installation team. Those causes include freeze/thaw cycles (which isn’t a typical problem in Houston), poor compaction, poor drainage construction, or shifting soils.

Along the Gulf Coast, the most common reason for uneven pavement is soil shifting. As such, it’s extremely important that your pavement installation team performs an analysis of the project site’s soil before beginning work. If problematic soils are identified, steps can be taken to improve the soil’s condition.

4) There is Water Pooling on the Parking Lot

Another sign that your parking lot may be uneven is the presence of pooling water in areas. Termed depressions, these spots are likely experiencing subsidence – or caving in – of the underlying soil. With time, this weak spot in your parking lot’s base will worsen, causing additional subsidence and potholes.

If depressions are present, the base will need to be stabilized before the parking lot can be repaired. Once it is, new pavement can be installed in the failed pavement’s place.

5) Loose Aggregate is Collecting on the Lot’s Surface

Pavement surfaces are subjected to a ton of wear and tear. Heavy traffic, impact damage, severe weather, intense sunlight, exposure to chemicals – the list goes on.

With time, the parking lot may shed small bits of aggregate in response to this wear. It can happen to both asphalt and concrete, though it tends to be more common with asphalt – especially when sealcoating isn’t performed on schedule.

Restoring the pavement’s surface is the goal when aggregate loss is present. With asphalt, this usually means an overlay. With concrete, this usually means patching. In both cases, proper installation, mixing, and curing techniques will help prevent aggregate loss.

6) The Parking Lot is Faded or Discolored

After 10-15 years, it’s common for parking lots to take on a worn and weathered appearance. The concrete may be stained, and the aggregate exposed in places. Asphalt will slowly fade from a rich black to a paler grayish white. Numerous minor surface defects may also be present.

If any (or all) of the above are present, it’s time to bring in a professional to inspect the lot’s condition and recommend options for repairs and/or restoration. For asphalt, overlaying or another surface treatment may be all that’s required. For concrete, new pavement installation may be recommended.

Timely Parking Lot Repairs Can Extend the Pavement’s Lifespan

Parking lots are meant to last, and they will last for decades if timely maintenance is prioritized. With prompt repair and maintenance, your parking lot’s curb appeal and function will be protected.

If your lot is in need of attention, bring in the Houston pavement experts to do the job. Houston pavement professionals spend much of their time installing and repairing parking lots and will have the best insight on the ideal solution for your parking lot problems.