The “Grand Canyon Effect” on Asphalt and Two Ways to Prevent It

Universal SolventWater is an essential and powerful resource, sometimes called the “universal solvent.” But given enough time, it can wreak havoc and dissolve just about anything, even seemingly permanent materials like your asphalt pavement.

Water is the primary agent of deterioration leading to cracks, potholes, and base course failures. The longer you allow water to pool on the pavement’s surface or seep into the asphalt, the bigger the problem will become. Eventually, your once-smooth surface can look like the craggy Grand Canyon. A craggy driveway is the last thing you want.

While it’s virtually impossible to keep the elements from coming in contact with your driveway, there are two ways you can prevent the potential damage:

Prevent Water Infiltration with Sealcoating

Sealcoating is a proactive method of pavement maintenance and prolonging its lifespan. It involves the application of a thin layer of liquid on the asphalt surface. This sealcoat protects asphalt from the damage caused by UV rays, chemicals, fluids from vehicles, and water from rain and snow. It accelerates the melting process of snow and ice, which also protects against rain frost and snow damage.

Other than keeping out damaging elements, regular high-quality sealcoating services keep the paved surface looking new, smooth, and attractive.

It’s important to note that sealcoating isn’t a curative measure. It’s a preventive method to maintain the asphalt’s current structural condition. If your pavement is in good, strong condition, a sealcoat can keep it that way. On the other hand, if your base course is failing or cracks have started to appear, you need a high-quality product specifically made for crack sealing.

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Sealcoating asphalt with unsealed cracks defeats the purpose, as water will get into the pores of the blacktop and lead to the very damage you’re trying to prevent. That’s why prior to any sealcoating work, experts make sure that all dirt, debris, cracks, and potholes are properly addressed.

Let It Drain with Storm Water Management

Asphalt PavementEffective water management on your parking lot is an important ingredient for preserving your asphalt. Consider these questions: How much water may stay on the surface? How much water runs off, and how quickly, and where does it naturally go? More importantly, where can it be directed or stored?

Letting water simply collect and pond on top of a paved surface is a recipe for asphalt damage, but we simply can’t let water run off into roads and drainage systems, either. These systems can become overloaded and flooded very easily.

You can have your asphalt designed such that it lets water percolate through various layers before allowing it to flow into waterways. These porous pavements mimic the way the natural layers of the earth hold and clean water, and are encouraged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the best practice for green infrastructure.

If you’re looking to keep your asphalt surface functional and smooth, take serious heed of the potential impact of water and the ways it can be mitigated. Whether it’s with simple sealcoating applications, or with porous surfaces, preventing the Grand Canyon effect on your asphalt is as easy as contacting the experts. But everything starts with an active decision on your part.

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