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What You Should Know About Asphalt Damage

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Asphalt parking lots are strong, but there are many factors that can cause damage, leading to expensive repairs. Check out these six facts you need to know about asphalt damage, so you can help protect your parking lot.

Heavy Trucks Cause Serious Damage

Heavy trucks, such as garbage trucks, semis and delivery trucks are devastating to your asphalt. Every vehicle does some damage to the asphalt, and this amount of damage is measured by the equivalent single axle load or ESAL. Most personal cars and trucks have a low ESAL. Even a big fully loaded passenger van only has 0.003 ESALs. By comparison, a fully-loaded tractor-semi trailer has 3 ESALs, so it's like having thousands of cars on your parking lot at once. Try to limit the amount of these heavy trucks on your parking lot, and apply thicker asphalt where you expect heavy trucks to drive and park.

Oil Softens Asphalt

Oil can destroy many things, but when exposed to asphalt, it destroys it on a molecular level. It destroys the bonds that hold the asphalt together. As a result, the asphalt becomes soft and breaks apart easily, creating holes where the oil has eaten away the asphalt. As soon as you spot an oil spill, clean it to prevent this corrosive damage.  

Oxidation Is a Natural Occurrence

Oxidation is normal for asphalt. It's the asphalt trying to find a stable molecular state. Unfortunately, this causes the asphalt to become weak and brittle. One of the reasons asphalt is so great for parking lots and roads is because, despite its strength, it has some flexibility. When faced with the high pressures of traffic, it bends. Oxidation, however, removes this flexibility, so it can't bend, resulting in more and more cracks.  

The Weather Is Destroying Your Asphalt

The weather is a danger you can't stop. If you live in an area with freezing winters, the water can seep into the asphalt. When it freezes, the water expands and makes small cracks in the asphalt. However, your asphalt isn't safe during the hotter months either. The UV rays in sunlight are known to fade many materials, and asphalt is no exception. When exposed to the sun, your sleek black parking lot turns dull gray and looks old. The radiation from the sun even causes the asphalt to deteriorate.

Contaminated Water Can Cause Asphalt to Break Down

A bit of rain-water puddles probably won't cause damage to your parking lot, but contaminated water can. If the water has oil, soap or other contaminates, it can cause the asphalt to break down if it is allowed to just sit there. Install drip lines to help eliminate any standing water.

Sealcoat Is Your Best Protection

Sealcoat is your parking lot's best friend because it protects against most dangers by creating a protective barrier. Sealcoat, however, is not a treatment for serious damage to your asphalt. It is preventative, so you need to apply it regularly for it to work. For example, if you allow oxidation to turn your asphalt brittle, sealcoat won't return its elasticity. In colder climates, apply sealcoat once every one or two years. In warmer climates, it's okay to apply it every four years. The best news: sealcoat is extremely cheap. If you do it yourself, expect to pay about $200 per 1,000 square feet. Hiring a professional is only about $50 to $100 more.

Don't wait until you need expensive repairs. The best approach is to be proactive and protect your parking lot from damage by applying sealcoat. For more information about asphalt repair and protection, contact a professional in your area today.