Cracked pavement is unfortunately unavoidable as asphalt ages, and especially during seasons of particularly heavy stress, like winter. Cracked pavement is a regular part of asphalt’s wear and tear process, and fixing and maintaining these cracks needs to be a part of your regular maintenance plan as well. Here’s some information and FAQ’s about cracked pavement and crack filling repairs.
Q: When Should Cracked Pavement Be Fixed?
A: Asphalt crack filler services should be performed as part of your regular driveway or parking lot maintenance plan. Whenever your asphalt cracks, it should be repaired. The longer cracked asphalt remains unfixed, the higher the chances are of water penetration to the base. Once the base of your asphalt is compromised, the structural integrity is weakened. Here in southern New England, crack filling can be done any time between early April to late December. Although there really isn’t a bad time to do crack filling, some seasons may be more advantageous to your business and traffic needs. For example, spring and fall are great seasons to apply crack filler to busy, high traffic areas because the cooler temperatures allow for quick drying. Spring crack filling is beneficial because it will help contain the dry summer weeds that grow up through the cracks. Fall crack repairs help to properly prepare and arm your asphalt for winter. When it comes to asphalt repairs on school properties and corporate offices, summer is typically the ideal season because traffic is reduced.
Q: How Often Should Crack Filler Services Be Done?
A: Crack filler services should be completed as part of your regular parking lot maintenance on an annual or biennial basis, at minimum. Additional crack repair should be completed as needed.
Q: Why Does My Asphalt Crack In Winter?
A: The freeze thaw cycle is one of the main reasons behind winter asphalt cracking. Temperatures fluctuate from freezing to above freezing again, putting stress on your asphalt. If liquid seeps into any sort of crack within your pavement during the hours when temperatures are above freezing, this liquid, now inside your pavement, will freeze when temperatures decrease. When water freezes it expands, leading to the pushing and breaking of the asphalt. Learn more on the frost heave process HERE. In addition to temperature fluctuations, winter ice melts, snow removal, and the added weight and moisture of snow piles play into the amount of damages that occur in winter.
Q: Can I Repair My Asphalt In Winter?
A: There are some temporary patching methods (cold patching) that can, and should be, conducted in winter to decrease further damages. However, understand that these winter patching methods are only temporary and a more permanent fix will need to occur in the spring.
Q: How Long Does It Take For Crack Filler To Dry?
A: Crack filler is rubberized joint sealant and doesn’t actually ‘dry’, it just cools down and firms up some. This “hardening” process happens VERY quickly and can typically be walked or driven on within minutes – even in the summer heat. Since crack filling can be done in the busiest of parking lots without much disruption (due to the quick “dry” time), it is one of the easiest services to perform in your asphalt maintenance plan. During the warmer months, a black silica sand or a de-tacking agent is generally dusted over the cracks to speed up the cooling time. Generally speaking, in most applications, traffic can be resumed in as little as 10 minutes.
Q: How Much Does Asphalt Crack Filler Cost?
A: The average cost for crack filling services is around 45-75 cents for foot. That being said, a number of factors affect the final cost of your cracked pavement repair job like, the size of the job, the number of days/amount of trips it will take to complete, and the current condition of your asphalt.
Q: Can I Seal A Cracked Asphalt Surface?
A: You can and should seal a cracked asphalt surface BUT only after crack filler is applied to first seal the cracks. Without crack filler, the sealer will not properly seal the cracks, and further damages will occur. Crack filler and asphalt sealer work best when applied in conjunction with one another.
Q: What Are Some Things I Can Do To Prevent My Asphalt From Cracking?
- Have yearly pavement inspections done to stay proactive in managing your parking lot.
- Make sure your pavement is set up on a yearly regular maintenance schedule.
- If you can only choose one pavement maintenance practice, asphalt crack filler is the most important to help prevent more cracks and/or prevent small cracks from becoming big problems.
- Water is the harshest element on pavement and can quickly deteriorate your blacktop if it penetrates the base. By filling cracks before they become large damages and/or potholes, you are helping to slow down the pavement’s deterioration by limiting water penetration.
- Proper installation is key. Starting your pavement off on the wrong foot is setting it up for failure. If your pavement is too thin, lacking the proper base, constructed with the wrong materials, etc., deterioration will likely begin prematurely.
- Use ice melt products that are safe for asphalt.
- Hire a reputable snow removal company to decrease damages associated with improper plowing methods and/or unsafe equipment.
Q: Can I Actually Prevent Cracks & Potholes In Winter?
A: If you live in areas that see cold winters and snow accumulation, unfortunately, some asphalt damages in winter are inevitable. However, by properly preparing your parking lot for winter, and practicing regular maintenance, you can significantly decrease the amount of damage your lot suffers in winter. If you go into winter with cracked pavement, the damages to these areas will be very significant when enduring freeze thaw, snow plows, ice melts, etc. – potentially leading to structural compromise. The more proactive you are, the less damages your asphalt will experience, and the longer it will last.
Maintaining your parking lot regularly is the best way to ensure that it is lasting as long as it should, it is safe, and it is aesthetically appealing. Crack filling is one of the most important maintenance and repair methods to perform on your asphalt surface. Cracked pavement could be detrimental to your asphalt’s structure if not properly repaired in a timely manner.
Winter is harsh, but spring is on its way, contact EastCoat Pavement for an assessment of winter damage and an effective repair schedule and plan.