Post #1992

The Formation of Potholes and How to Prevent Them

Sure, chirping birds and flowering trees are sure signs of spring but you can also tell by the increasing presence of potholes in the roads. While the battle against these road cavities wages year-round, late winter and early springtime is typically the height of pothole season due to the repeating freeze and thaw cycle that occurs that time of year. But potholes require at least two factors to form: water and traffic. Water, if allowed access, will weaken the soil beneath the pavement and traffic applies stress, compromising the structural integrity of the asphalt.

Fortunately, potholes are usually preventable and they are fixable if they do form. The first line of defense involves proper road base preparation including adequate leveling and compacting to allow for sufficient structural support and drainage. A quality asphalt surface installed by an experienced crew working with proper equipment is the next step. Finally, regardless of the pavement’s original condition, all asphalt surfaces require a maintenance program that should begin two to three years after the initial installation.

A regular maintenance schedule that includes both crack sealing and seal coating can help prevent the formation of potholes and make them easier to repair should they appear. Crack sealing is especially important in this respect because it keeps moisture from getting below the asphalt where it can weaken the pavement’s structure. In addition, seal coating will protect the entire asphalt surface, including hairline cracks that are too small to crack seal.

Even with adequate prevention measures in place, potholes can still form. If this is the case, it is important to have them repaired as quickly as possible to avoid further deterioration and a more expensive future repair (not to mention liabilities that may result from damaged vehicles or accidents caused by potholes).