Potholes, simply put, are a nuisance, to not only the drivers having to avoid them, but also those who have to maintain the roads and parking lots. And winter is the time that you begin to see them everywhere. A number of factors are responsible for what causes potholes in winter. Certain areas are more prone to potholes. Weather conditions and the way the roadways are treated for hazardous weather, as well as traffic patterns play a role in asphalt potholes.
Watch Out! What Causes Potholes?
As you’re trying to avoid the potholes from damaging your car, have you ever wondered what causes potholes? Let’s talk why.
- Certain areas are more prone to potholes due to traffic patterns
- Expansion and contraction during freeze-thaw water cycles mixed with amount of traffic the area receives
- Weight of cars and trucks passing over weak spots causing the material to break down
- Potholes appear more frequently in late winter and early spring because of the fluctuating temps
Do you best to steer clear of hitting potholes to avoid damaging your car!
Winter Weather Wrecking Havoc On Asphalt
Winter is the prime time for damage because of melting snow and water re-freezing. This freeze-thaw cycle weakens the pavement and leads to cracks and potholes.
The freeze-thaw water cycles cause expansion and contraction of the asphalt during the cold months of the year. When water enters into an already weakened area on the pavement, and then the temperatures dip down below the freeze point, the asphalt expands. The constant fluctuation of expansion and contraction weakens the asphalt, causing cracking and loosening of the surface. Especially during the late winter and early spring, you may begin to notice more of them because of the prevalence of fluctuating temperatures. We have some FAQs about cracked pavement here.
In addition to the temperature affecting the asphalt, plows and salt trucks also play a role in affecting the asphalt. The large, heavy plows passing over already weakened areas will only break the asphalt apart further. Curbs particularly take a lot of abuse in winter from plows. While salting roadways make them safer for travel, they lower the temperature at which water will freeze. This creates more of an artificial freeze-thaw cycles. Therefore creating the conditions for more damage to occur. Spring is bound to require an asphalt repair crew to service your parking lots.
Pothole Repair Methods
There are two categories of pothole repair methods.
- Temporary solution
- Done during cold months
- Use in low temps because it remains more flexible than hot mix
- Quick DIY to offer a temporary solution to areas that need immediate attention
- Done in winter to help get your lots through winter by working to prevent further damage
Hot Mix Patching
- Most permanent solution
- Must be done in warmer weather
- Provides a quicker surface repair than repaving your lot
- Patching prevents against further damage to your asphalt
- There are two methods of hot-mix pothole patching we use; milling and saw-cut-and patch. Learn more on these two methods HERE.
We go into more detail on the difference between hot mix asphalt and cold patch asphalt here.
Know Better For Next Winter
Knowing what causes potholes, we can look more at some preventive measures. As with most things, being proactive is better than being reactive. We suggest that you plan the year out in advance for all of your asphalt needs. Whether that is repairs, paving, curbs & sidewalks, line stripping, or all of the above, knowing which service is recommended for which season is helpful. And of course, get your snow removal plan in place and book a reputable plow contract BEFORE the winter season gets close.
Hire a reputable asphalt paving contractor. Do your research, ask a lot of questions and get a sense of the contractor’s experience. Ask them the process they use to repair asphalt pavement and potholes. Quality of repairs and timeline for the repair are other key questions. Here at EastCoat Pavement Services we are prepared to answer your asphalt questions. We are proud of the quality of work we perform and have a great team to offer you a great customer service experience. For all spring repair needs give us a call!