Don’t Crack Under the Pressure of Parking Lot Management!
Water is great for your grass and landscape. It is critical for your own personal health! But water is the enemy when it comes to your roads and parking lot. Your pavement cracks won’t go away without attention. Here are some tips that BlueSky focuses on with every client we work with.
Top Tips to Minimize Cracks in Your Parking Lot
BlueSky recommends an annual inspection and crack filling program to get the most out of your pavement. Cracks left untreated may allow water to infiltrate below the pavement surface. Letting them go too long will allow weeds to begin to grow. Not only is a parking lot full of cracks and weeds unsightly, it promotes premature failure, resulting in the need for expensive replacement or at least major repairs. On average, 60-75% of all cracks turn into potholes within 3 years of forming, with the odds higher if you are in a heavy snow and ice area.
In several independent studies crack sealing has proven to be the lowest pavement preservation treatment available. The key here is proper treatment quickly and often.
The best time to address cracks in the pavement is as soon as possible! If cracks are addressed before they can expand or before foreign materials are able to fill them in, they can normally be cleaned and dried with compressed air and sealed with a high quality, hot applied, rubberized or polymer modified sealant.
It is important to know that crack sealer is the best method for sealing as it uses specialized materials that bond to the walls of the crack while being able to move with the pavement as it expands and contracts, preventing intrusion of water and debris into the crack.
Crack sealant is specifically engineered to remain flexible at low temperatures, so it doesn’t crack or split open, and it remains stable at higher temperatures so that it doesn’t track or bleed on the pavement. Crack fillers often found sold in jugs at your local big box store are not the same product as they won’t bond to the surrounding paving material. In the end, crack filler is a band aid.
Small, Medium and Large Cracks
Cracks that are 1/8 inch or slightly larger are usually routed to a width of inch or greater to provide a reservoir for the sealant. The crack is then cleaned and sealed. If the cracks are more than 2 inches deep, a backer rod should be installed to conserve sealant.
Cracks that are ½ inch to ¾ inch wide usually need only cleaning and sealing. Install a backer rod if cracks are more than 2 inches deep. Cracks that are larger than 3/4-inches wide should be filled with an asphalt emulsion slurry seal, a hot mix asphalt sand mix, or a hot-poured sealant.
The time of year when the crack filling is done will affect the performance of the sealant. Most cracks will open and close, depending on the season of the year. Crack sealing should be carried out when the cracks are in the middle of their opening range, which usually equates to spring or fall.
Cracks filled in summer, when they are at minimum width, will be under-filled in the winter. Cracks filled in the winter, when they are at maximum width, will be over-filled in the summer and traffic may pull the crack filling material out of the crack. Additionally, cracks filled at or below freezing temperatures run the risk on improper adhesion to the crack edge.
Crack Sealing Procedures
For crack sealing, the most important aspect of the procedure is the preparation of the crack for treatment. Also, the season when the crack sealing is done will affect its performance.
If the cracks need to be routed or sawed to remove extraneous material, it should be done before cleaning the cracks. The routing or sawing is best accomplished using a vertical-spindle router, rotary-impact router, or a random-crack saw. After doing the routing or sawing, clean the cracks using high-pressure air, sandblasting, wire brushing, or hot air blasting.
Cleaning the cracks is an essential step to ensure that the sealant will adhere to the sides of the crack. After cleaning, check the cracks for depth. A backer rod should be placed in large deep cracks to conserve sealant. The backer rod should be a compressible, non-shrinking, non-absorbent material with a melting point higher than the temperature of the sealant. The backer rod should be about 25 percent wider than the crack, to prevent slipping or floating out after placing the sealant.
Follow these tips and partner with a professional paving company and you will ensure that you don’t crack under the pressure of parking lot maintenance.