From the rapid melting of a 9-day consecutive, February snowfall, to multiple inches of rain causing flooding; all with temperatures fluctuating from below freezing to over 50°. For some Property Managers and Property Owners, Chicago's freeze thaw cycle has been especially brutal these past few months, wreaking havoc on parking lots across the region.
How Freeze Thaw Effects Pavement Structures
Any form of water, when penetrating cracks of asphalt surfaces in the winter, freezes and expands, widening these areas. When this happens continually over a period of time, asphalt cracks worsen and cause the surface to degrade from the inside out. This results in Premature Pavement Failure.
While most newly paved asphalt surfaces can last a period of 15-25 years, the constantly changing weather here in Chicago can cut down on the life of your pavement if it is not properly maintained. In addition to the freeze thaw cycle and severe temperature fluctuations, other factors such as, traffic volume, the frequency and duration of vehicular fluid spills (i.e. gas, brake fluid, antifreeze, etc), the effectiveness of the original design and drainage, may have a substantial impact on the lifespan of your parking lot.
Warning Signs Your Parking Lot Is In Need Of Asphalt Repairs
As asphalt ages, cracks will begin to form. If you can catch these early by doing routine maintenance inspections, you have a good chance at filling or sealing these off, preventing further damage. If left untreated, these tiny cracks will continue to grow creating larger rifts across the asphalt surface leaving what industry professionals call "Alligator Cracking". If your asphalt has this alligator-skin appearance, you will most likely need to have the entire surface removed and another one laid.
If after it rains or snows water left to settle on the parking lot could begin to cause damage over a period of time. Pooling water occurs if the pavement surface hasn't been properly leveled. Pooling water does not necessarily call for a complete resurface of the pavement, however, drainage at the property should be assessed and if needed, additional storm drains installed to help divert water off of the pavement surface.
Over a period of time you may start to notice areas of pavement that are warped or buckled. This is usually caused by heavy vehicles turning onto and/or driving on the property. Vehicles parked for extended periods of time may also make their own tire depressions in the property. Depending upon the extent of the damage, you may be looking at a simple touch-up or a complete replacement of the pavement.
Fading Surface Color
UV exposure is the leading cause of parking lot asphalt discoloration. A newly paved parking lot appears deep black in color, however, due to weathering, this color begins to fade to gray over time. Frequent and routine seal coating and striping, recommended every 2-3 years, will help maintain parking lots, delaying this damage; it is important to note that once seal coating is no longer effective, a full resurface of the pavement should be considered.
Not only do potholes present a safety risk, (i.e. tripping, falling, damage to vehicles, etc.) but they are also an eyesore to your clients, vendors, and tenants. Potholes occur when the contraction and expansion within the asphalt and soil underneath the pavement takes place. Here in Chicago, we're no stranger to potholes! Our brutal freeze thaw cycle, as previously mentioned, causes water to freeze and creates pressure within and underneath pavement structures. Once warmer weather moves in, the ice melts releasing pressure, causing the pavement to contract. Over time both the pavement and soil underneath erode causing a void and voila, a pothole is formed!
What You Can Do
Your parking lot will typically let you know when it has reached it's maximum lifespan and needs to be repaved. In the meantime, go outside and take a look at the current conditions of your lot. If you've noticed any of these signs, be sure to contact the paving experts at Beverly Companies, to learn how to address the issue quickly, easily and affordably. We'll learn about your budget for capital repairs and work with you to develop a plan that makes sense. The sooner you take care of repairing or resurfacing your parking lot, the better first impression you can make to future tenants, clients, and vendors!