As a building owner or property manager who oversees the maintenance of an asphalt parking lot, you should know that being proactive about your asphalt’s maintenance needs is your best defense against serious parking lot problems. And in a place like the Twin Cities, where the weather can be harsh, unpredictable, and damaging to just about every outdoor surface, your parking lot is no exception.
But even if the weather remains relatively mild, asphalt pavement inevitably experiences degradation over time. Like any outdoor surface in Minnesota, your parking lot is subject to impacts from the sun, water, wind, air, traffic load, temperature fluctuations, and chemicals that come into contact with it.
Aside from those deteriorating factors, asphalt naturally degrades over time because it’s composed of organic materials that, like all organic materials, have a finite, functional lifespan. While the life expectancy of a properly designed, installed, and maintained asphalt parking lot can be as high as 30 years, a poorly maintained lot can last as little as seven.
If you’d like your parking lot to last as long as possible, read on to learn how proactive asphalt maintenance can help you make that a reality.
What Does Preventative Asphalt Maintenance Entail?
When it comes to asphalt pavement, preventative maintenance services are designed to correct minor distresses in the asphalt while the pavement is still in good condition.
Performing these maintenance actions proactively has been proven to extend the service life of the pavement by protecting the asphalt from the natural stressors it’s routinely subjected to. Ultimately, proactive maintenance actions save property owners money by reducing the need for frequent or serious pavement rehabilitation.
Depending on the current condition of your pavement, maintenance actions may include the following.
Cracksealing, which seals existing, age-, temperature-, or load-related cracks in the asphalt to prevent water from entering those cracks and negatively affecting the aggregate base layer beneath the asphalt.
Sealcoating, which applies a layer of asphalt emulsion, chipseal, or capeseal to the existing pavement to protect the asphalt from water intrusion and damage from harmful UV rays that cause oxidation.
Patching, which fills in stress cracks and/or potholes in relatively small areas where the asphalt has completely deteriorated. Generally, patching is used as a quick, affordable fix, but longer-lasting solutions are recommended for prolonged pavement performance.
Mill & Overlay
Milling and overlay, which adds a new layer of asphalt over top of the existing pavement to improve the strength, curb appeal, and performance of the lot. This service is more on the rehabilitative side of the spectrum rather than the preventative maintenance side.
Other asphalt services, such as full-depth reclamation and full reconstruction, fall more on the rehabilitation side of the spectrum rather than maintenance. If your pavement is at the point that it may require one of these actions, it’s reaching the end of its service life.
Proactive Asphalt Maintenance: Seasonal Recommendations
In the Twin Cities, each season of the year exposes your parking lot to a new set of potential stressors. And although those stressors will inevitably affect the asphalt to some degree, there are things you can do to lessen their impact.
Here are our recommendations for proactively protecting your pavement during each season of the year.
Thinking about the placement of your snow piles is perhaps the simplest way to help lessen winter’s impact on your parking lot. Although those piles are harmless during winter, come spring, that snow will slowly transform into water, which can do some serious damage to your lot if you allow it to sit.
To minimize the risk of standing water on your asphalt, it’s a good idea to position your snow piles as close as possible to your lot’s storm drain. That way, when the snow starts to melt, the water won’t need to travel far to drain off the pavement.
Placing snow piles near the drain will also help reduce the chance of water seeping into existing pavement cracks. If temperatures unexpectedly drop and water freezes below the surface of the asphalt, it can cause considerable damage.
When the ground begins to thaw in spring, the thawing process starts at the pavement’s surface and slowly works its way downward. When water becomes trapped between soil that’s still frozen and the pavement itself, that water weakens the subgrade and aggregate base beneath the asphalt. When heavy vehicles drive over pavement with weakened subgrade and base, they can cause considerable damage to the lot.
To prevent this, it’s a good idea to specify designated truck routes if heavy-duty vehicles use your lot. Discuss those routes with drivers to help ensure they only traverse areas of the pavement that are fit for heavy loads.
The sun’s UV rays combined with the oxygen in the air cause your pavement to slowly oxidize. Although this process is inevitable, you can slow it down by having your parking lot sealcoated during the summer.
Cracksealing during the summer or spring will also help protect your pavement from water intrusion during autumn, when we tend to get quite a bit of rain. Since temperatures start to drop in September, October, and November, water on your lot won’t evaporate as quickly as it did during summer, so if you don’t crackseal during summer, your pavement will be more susceptible to water damage.
Autumn is an excellent time to perform a pavement assessment to evaluate the condition of your parking lot and prepare for any asphalt maintenance and/or repairs it needs. By this time of year, cracksealing and sealcoating usually aren’t possible given the colder outdoor temperatures. If you haven’t tended to your lot’s maintenance needs by this point, you may have to wait until next year.
Get a Preventative Asphalt Maintenance Quote from Bituminous Roadways
Ready to keep your parking lot in optimal condition so it’ll last as long as possible? Then get in touch with our team at Bituminous Roadways to schedule a consultation and service estimate! We specialize in full-service asphalt maintenance and repairs, including cracksealing, sealcoating, patching, overlays, and more.
To learn more or get started, feel free to give us a call today at 651-686-7001 or request a free estimate online, and we’ll be in touch promptly.