It’s pricier and more complicated to repair potholes in Chattanooga than it is to keep up with preventative asphalt maintenance. All the maintenance in the world can’t save asphalt with poor drainage. That’s why the installation of drainage systems remains a crucial factor to preventing potholes. Additionally, take the time to fill cracks and reseal surfaces as needed so potholes never even have a chance to form.
How Do Potholes Form in the First Place?
Potholes are formed after water infiltrates pavement surfaces, reaching down into the sub-base and soil beneath. After this moisture nestles into its newfound home, it freezes and thaws with changing temperatures. When moisture freezes, it increases in size and pushes against the asphalt. When moisture thaws, the subbase and soil recede, but the asphalt may remain raised and cause a gap or void between the pavement and supporting layer beneath.
Can You Prevent Potholes in Chattanooga?
Sure, Chattanooga has its share of wild weather but even under harsh conditions you can prevent potholes most of the time. There are two key things you can do to help reduce the likelihood of potholes. First and foremost, install good drainage. Secondly, preventative maintenance is key—the goal is to seal and repair roadways while they are still in good condition.
1. Install Good Drainage
The #1 way to reduce the likelihood of potholes is to construct quality drainage systems. Water should flow away from asphalt installed of pooling on surfaces. When water pools on surfaces it weakens asphalt, and increases the chance water seeps beneath the surface. Once water reaches inside asphalt, the freeze and thaw cycle begins and as described above can end in a pothole.
2. Preventative Maintenance: Seal Cracks & Asphalt Surfaces as Needed
The best time to seal cracks is when asphalt is still in relatively good condition. Even if you have great drainage, cracks offer a surefire way for water to penetrate surfaces and start causing damage. By keeping water out of pavement, you can delay or prevent most major forms of distress. It’s not just water that gets into cracks; oils and other roadway pollutants can seep through cracks too—further speeding up the progression of roadway damage. Depending on a variety of factors, such as weather and traffic conditions, crack sealant can last between 3 and 8 years.
Cracks that measure over 1/8-inch should be cleaned out and filled as soon as possible. If cracks are over 2-inches in depth, a backer rod may be necessary. Additionally, cracks that measure larger than 3/4 inches in width are typically sealed using an asphalt emulsion slurry seal, hot-poured asphalt or hot mix asphalt sand mix.
Cracks that measure under 1/8-inch in width cannot be sealed because they are too small. If there are lots of small cracks, known as hairline cracks, a surface seal (slurry seal, sand seal, chip seal or fog seal) can be used. Cracks close and expand based upon current seasons and weather conditions. Cracks should be filled when they are at the middle of their range, which is generally in spring or fall.
Types of sealants that reduce water damage, fill small chips and cracks, and help to prevent the development of potholes include:
The Importance of Patching Potholes
The faster you fix potholes the less damage they can evoke. If the weather does not allow for permanent repair methods, it’s worth investing in a temporary solution. If potholes are not patched right away, water will continue to infiltrate surfaces and lead to larger problems and more extensive damage.
Patching can offer permanent or temporary pothole repairs that’ll help control additional asphalt deterioration. Full-depth patching, also known as deep patch, is a permanent fix applied to potholes. On the other hand, a ‘throw and go’ patch is considered a temporary fix for potholes.