How To Remove Oil From Asphalt Parking Lots

How To Remove Oil From Asphalt Parking Lots

Is your parking lot full of oil stains? Oil and asphalt are a bad combination because oil actively degrades asphalt. Unfortunately, oil is something commercial asphalt can’t escape. That’s why it’s so important to have asphalt surfaces frequently cleaned so that oil doesn’t have the opportunity to cause extensive damage to surfaces.

If ignored, oil will actively destroy surfaces by softening asphalt so that it can no longer stand up to regular wear and tear. The potential for asphalt oil damage increases with the age of the asphalt.

Gasoline almost immediately softens and destroys asphalt, while oil does the same thing at a slower rate. The softening of asphalt eventually leads to potholes, deep cracks and other damages. Using the right seal coats and reapplying as needed can help increase the amount of time you have before oil has a chance to harm surfaces. Although, your best bet is always to remove oil stains as soon as possible.

The 3 Stages Of Oil Damage On Asphalt

After oil falls onto the surface, asphalt goes through several stages of damage.

Stage 1 Of Asphalt Oil Damage

Asphalt damage related to oil spills starts off in stage 1, when the oil is visible on the surface and creates an icky looking stain. In stage 1, the oil has not yet entered through the first layer of asphalt. If you are debating adding sealcoat at this time, it’s important to remove the oil and subsequent stain beforehand. If you ignore this step and try to apply a sealcoat on top it will not adhere properly.

In order to remove oil from asphalt at this stage, the oil can be burned and scrapped away. This is a tricky process to get just right because you don’t want the heat to be too hot and damage the asphalt. It needs to be warm enough to melt the oil without causing damage to the asphalt.

Stage 2 Of Asphalt Oil Damage

If oil stains are not fixed within a certain amount of time they will develop into stage 2, which includes minimal damage to the top layer of asphalt. You might notice surfaces raveling or loose aggregates, causing the paving to be exposed and full of small depressions.

Heating up the oil may help to remove it at this stage as well, although you’ll need to resurface the impacted area with hot mix asphalt. The thickness of the area that needs to be resurfaced will depend upon the actual depth of the damage. It is also possible to use infrared heat to remove and treat this type of damage.

Stage 3 Of Asphalt Oil Damage

Extreme damage and deterioration from oil will cause asphalt to be noticeably softer than the surrounding surfaces. There are a couple of options in order to fix this level of damage. A sawcut may be used to remove the damaged portion at the full depth of the paving section. The entire section will then need to be replaced. This method completely removes any part of the pavement damaged by oil and ensures no oil is left behind. This is generally the more costly option, especially when applied to several areas of asphalt.

Another, and perhaps more affordable option, is to remove the top 1.5 to 2-inches of asphalt. This area is then thoroughly cleaned before an ss1h tack coat is applied and the area is resurfaced with hot mix asphalt.

When To Fix Oil Stains

The sooner you can fix oil stains the better, otherwise oil will continue to soften asphalt surfaces until they require complete replacement. Repairs are always more cost effective than replacing entire stretches of asphalt. We recommend regularly inspecting parking lots for any signs of oil stains and targeting them right away.

Properly cleaning up oil is so important in order to protect the local environment. Simply power hosing oil away just pushes it into local waterways, a lose-lose for you and your community.

Kleenco Construction can make your asphalt look like new, removing some of the toughest stains and preventing oil from further damaging your parking lot surfaces. We are happy to come out and take a look at your asphalt to provide a competitive quote for repairs.