Potholes in your driveway can damage your car's tires and suspension, while also posing a safety hazard when you're walking or using equipment like a snowblower. Understanding the basics of pothole formation on asphalt can help you determine the best way to avoid or fix them.
What Causes a Pothole?
Spring is usually pothole season on an asphalt driveway, although they can form at any time. Nearly all potholes start with a small crack. Water seeps into the crack. Freezing temperatures then cause the water to expand, further compromising the integrity of your asphalt. When the spring thaw arrives, the water defrosts and drains away. This leaves behind damage in the lower asphalt layer, so the top layer collapses inward and forms the hole.
Can You Prevent Potholes?
In most cases, asphalt potholes are preventable if you take steps to keep your driveway in good repair. The following process is the best defense against a large hole:
Inspect the driveway in late summer or early fall. Look for small or large cracks, sunken areas, raised ripples, or other visible damage that could allow moisture into the paving.
Fix the damage before winter arrives. Small cracks can be filled and sealed. Sunken areas may indicate a problem with the base material, which may require resurfacing or complete replacement of the asphalt with the help of a company like Lakeridge Paving Company, depending on the severity.
Seal the asphalt every two to three years. Sealing asphalt helps keep moisture from seeping in, so it should be considered a regular part of your home maintenance routine. Areas that receive a lot of moisture and freezing temperatures in winter will require more frequent sealing compared to those with mild climates.
Are Potholes Repairable?
In most cases, you can repair a small pothole without replacing the entire drive. The do-it-yourself option consists of filling the hole with a cold asphalt mix, which is then compacted in place. This method is often used by street crews to fill potholes. Although this method can form a permanent patch in ideal conditions, it may not address the underlying problems that led to the initial pothole. In most cases, it's advisable to have a professional inspection done to determine if future cracking and water seepage can cause new potholes. Resurfacing may be necessary if cracking as extended beyond a small area.
There's no reason to live with a bumpy drive filled with cracks and potholes. Asphalt is a durable and often repairable material when it's kept in good repair. If you get potholes, it's important to fix them promptly so the whole driveway doesn't deteriorate.