Potholes are sometimes unavoidable on an asphalt lot. They usually happen when a small crack in the pavement goes unnoticed. Water seeps into the crack at the onset of winter, and then freezing temperatures cause the water to ice up and expand. This process makes the crack larger. After several freeze-thaw cycles, the damage can become great enough for the asphalt to crumble into a pothole. Fortunately, most potholes are completely repairable if you act quickly.
A patch is more likely to adhere fully and last a long time if the area is properly cleaned. Your repair tech will begin by removing any loose gravel or other debris that has collected in the pothole. Plants that have taken root — a common issue in potholes in driveways or little-used areas — must also be removed. If conditions have been damp, the tech may utilize an air compressor to blow out the hole. Not only does this assure that small debris, like sand, is removed, but it also dries out the asphalt so that the patch will adhere more readily.
The next repair step is to prepare the existing asphalt to take the patch. If the hole is deep, a loose asphalt mixture containing coarser aggregate may first be added and tamped down solidly. Once this is in place, the tech will use a heat gun to heat up the asphalt surrounding the pothole. This is because a hot patch is more likely to adhere permanently and not break apart under regular use. A hot asphalt mix is then placed into the hole. It is tamped and smoothed until it is solid and level with the surrounding asphalt. You can resume use of the pavement within a few hours.
Asphalt patches are not invisible; you will be able to see the darker area where the fresh asphalt was installed. If you have several areas patched, the result can begin to become unsightly. In this instance, sealcoating may be necessary. Sealcoat is a thin coating of asphalt combined with a polymer that is designed to keep moisture out of the asphalt, which prevents future damages. It also evens out the color of asphalt, helping to camouflage extensive patching.
When ignored, potholes steadily worsen over time. What starts out as minor damage in a limited area slowly becomes larger. As more moisture seeps into the asphalt through the initial pothole, additional cracks and potholes begin to form. Eventually. the lot will be unsafe to use and will require complete replacement. Contact an asphalt repair service now, while the damage is still minimal and easily fixed.