Essential Asphalt Maintenance for Spring
After a long and snowy winter, spring is here at last. This means throwing open windows, enjoying longer daylight hours and watching trees bursting into flower, but it also means plenty of outdoor work for businesses. After all, the world has been covered in snow and ice the past several months. Now that these elements have receded and temperatures are warming up, it’s time to see what the damage is and how much work we’ll need to do to get things back in working order for the new season.
One of the major areas of the outdoors that will need care and attention after being exposed to the elements all year? Your asphalt. Whether this includes a parking lot or a roadway, you’ll need to address the damage that inevitably occurred to your asphalt after months of being exposed to the ice and cold throughout Pennsylvania and the mid-Atlantic especially Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. These states get a lot of precipitation in the winter, so addressing the issues that arise from water seeping below the asphalt and crack openings in a parking lot or roadway becomes critical to save you on what could be major maintenance expenses long term.
We want to help you get your asphalt ready for the new season with this list of top asphalt maintenance tasks for spring. Your asphalt is a major investment, while you may not need to perform all of these tasks, it’s still a good idea to consider every one of these categories and evaluate if it applies to you and helps you protect your investment. A professional pavement maintenance contractor like D.E. Gemmill can help you determine which items are most important for you and can perform these items for you. By checking off each item on this list, you ensure that your asphalt pavement will be ready to tackle the busy spring, summer and fall.
1. Perform a Visual Inspection of Your Asphalt
Before you begin to perform any maintenance, start by taking a tour of your parking lot or roadway. Make a slow and careful circuit of the space, with a clipboard or notepad in hand, and make note of all the damage you see. Look for things such as:
- Cracks in asphalt
- Holes in pavement
- Poor parking lot or roadway line visibility
Keep a sharp eye out for anything that damages the pristine surface of your asphalt, especially if it’s something you know wasn’t there the previous autumn.
It might even be best to take a partner with you on this inspection tour. It’s possible for one person to overlook a spot of damage, but it’s harder for two people to miss it. With two sets of eyes on the lookout, you’ll be more likely to spot all the damage present on your asphalt paving.
2. Begin With Asphalt Sweeping
Sweeping your asphalt may look different depending on how large the space you’re working with is, but it’s an essential step no matter what your pavement looks like. It allows you to remove all the loose gravel, debris and dirt that collected on the asphalt’s surface over the winter. This is important because it cleans away these items that litter your asphalt and also because it may uncover deeper problems.
For example, what may simply look like a collection of gravel may hide a large pothole. Only once you remove this debris can you get a fair idea of what you’re dealing with underneath.
If you’re working with a small roadway or even a small parking lot, it may be simple enough to get out a large broom and sweep your space by hand. While this may be a bit tedious, it’s worth the effort for how much tidier your driveway will look afterward. If, however, you’re working with a large parking lot, this is too much space to sweep yourself. We recommend hiring a professional street and pavement sweeping service to clean your lot for you.
By revealing underlying problems, asphalt sweeping provides an essential component of preventative care. Let’s say you chose not to clean your lot for a year. You never remove the gravel that’s hiding a small crack, meaning you never notice the crack is there. The crack continues to grow larger and larger until it’s very difficult to repair. If you swept the lot, you would notice the crack early in its development and conduct an easy repair on it, saving time and money over the long run.
3. Use Sealcoating on Your Parking Lot
One of the very best ways to maintain your asphalt is to use sealcoating. Sealcoating is a liquid you apply on top of your asphalt to protect it from:
- Water damage
- Oil stains
- UV rays
It’s beneficial to your asphalt because, in addition to preserving the current condition of your lot, it also prevents future damage.
How does sealcoating work?
It’s simple. In terms of UV protection, think of the sealcoating as a sunscreen for your asphalt. It forms a protective barrier over the surface, preventing UV rays from getting through to the asphalt and damaging it. Similarly, sealcoating fills tiny voids and holes throughout the asphalt that, if left untouched, would allow oxygen to seep into the pavement and cause oxidation. Lastly, properly sealcoated asphalt surfaces are protected by providing a durable coating that safeguards against the elements, and also against oil, salt and vehicle traffic.
Sealcoating isn’t just about offering protection. It leads to a longer lifespan overall, contributes to lower asphalt repair costs and even improves the pavement’s appearance by giving it a smooth new black coat. Not sure when to sealcoat your asphalt? We recommend getting this service done once every three to five years. The exact length of time a sealcoat lasts depends on how heavily trafficked your lot is.
4. Fill in Cracks in Your Asphalt
Who hasn’t had the experience of noticing a long, thin crack appear in the pavement? Where once the asphalt was sturdy and whole, it’s now cracked in the cold and is splitting right in half. While most of us object to cracks because they’re unpleasant looking, there are greater concerns at stake than the aesthetic ones. Maintaining the cracks by crack sealing will prevent water from entering the asphalt base and stone base under the asphalt, and reduce the chance of erosion which can deteriorate your parking lot. Water entering the base can freeze and thaw during the winter and summer weather cycles, this makes the asphalt surface above to breakup eventually leading to more cracks and can create potholes. In other words, what might seem like just a small crack is rarely so innocent. If you don’t fix it, more will start showing up in quick succession.
There are two primary types of crack-filling — hot and cold:
- Hot crack-filling adheres better to the asphalt, forming a tighter bond while drying faster and lasting longer. It also requires special ingredients and a professional touch.
- Cold crack is excellent for the DIY-repair worker, but won’t last quite as long or be as effective.
Decide which is right for you and fill the cracks in your pavement to prepare them for Pennsylvania and the mid-Atlantic’s wet spring and summer months.
5. Repair Potholes in Your Asphalt
If you’re fortunate and work hard to stay on top of your asphalt maintenance, you might not need to worry about this particular concern. In the event that these ugly blemishes have appeared in your pavement, however, it’s imperative you deal with them right away and before they grow any larger.
Not sure how to repair potholes? Unfortunately, potholes often signal that there’s a problem reaching all the way down to the pavement’s base. The only way to get to the root of the problem and apply a permanent fix is to tear up the damaged area, fix the base and then repave this section.
If you’re short of time, supplies and means, there are temporary solutions. These won’t last long, but if you need something to tide you over until you can manage a proper fix, this will do the job. Grab an off-the-shelf pothole filler product, and use this to patch the affected area. Be aware that unless you plan to complete a permanent fix soon, you’ll need to reapply this patch quite frequently.
Potholes are a large repair job. If you want to fix them permanently, it’s imperative that you catch them before they grow too large. Never let small cracks and holes go, thinking they’re “too small to bother with.” If you leave these unaddressed, you’ll soon have enormous potholes to deal with as well as May showers and summer thunderstorms across PA rain down on your parking lot or roadway.
6. Remove Oil Stains From Asphalt
Oil stains are another problem that needs to be treated as quickly as possible. If you discover these discolorations soon after they occur, you’ll have plenty of options for dealing with them. You can find many cleaning products available that will suck the oil out of the cracks and holes in the pavement, removing any visible stain.
The longer the oil sits on the pavement and the more ingrained the stain becomes, the harder it is to remove and the fewer options become available to you. If a stain has been left alone for so long that it’s truly seeped into the pores of the pavement, there’s nothing to do except to treat it like a pothole. For a permanent fix, you’ll need to remove the asphalt and replace it.
7. Engage in Line Striping and Pavement Marking Repair
Pavement markers will likely not be a concern if you’re only dealing with the driveway to your company. If you’re working on a commercial parking lot or drive, however, these lines and markings are crucial. Parking lot and roadway line striping is a main priority for the safety of your employees, visitors to your business, as well as the general traveling public. Pavement markings provides direction, instruction and safe passage throughout your parking lot or roadway. Without them, parking lots and roadways will quickly devolve into chaos and may not meet legal requirements.
All pavement markings fade over time, growing slightly dimmer while still remaining clear enough to serve their intended purpose. How do you know when to repair pavement markings and when it’s OK to leave them alone for another month or year?
The answer is a lot simpler than you might think:
- If the pavement markings are in any way unclear or difficult to see, then it’s time to restripe them.
- While it’s acceptable for these lines to appear a bit faded, the moment they become difficult to see, they are a hazard you must address.
- Not quite sure if your pavement markings cross this line yet? Try driving your parking lot or roadway and look for these markings through the windshield of your moving car. This will give you a far more accurate view of how faded the markings are than when inspecting them from the ground.
- If reflectivity and visibility is compromised during nighttime, it’s time to repair your pavement markings. A professional can help test the reflectivity and ensure it meets your state requirements.
To tidy up your various lines and pavement markers, grab some long-lasting pavement paint. Make sure to choose a variety that’s specifically intended for pavement markings, such as epoxy or thermoplastic, and get busy redefining these markers. While this is something you can do yourself if you have a small touch-up, you should consider calling in professional help if you are working in a parking lot or an area large enough that a DIY project becomes impractical.
Why Perform Maintenance on Your Asphalt?
If, after reading this list, you feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks in front of you, remember there are good reasons for each and every item we mention. These steps will keep your lot or roadway in good condition for years to come. By committing to this type of asphalt maintenance, just a few of the primary benefits you’ll experience include the following.
1. Better Safety for Your Parking Lot
An uncared-for parking lot can be a dangerous one:
- Potholes can spark crashes or vehicle damage.
- Cracks can result in people falling and lead to potholes.
- Missing or faded lines can cause people to miss their parking spot, bump a parking lot fixture or another car, cross into an oncoming lane, and may not meet legal requirements.
While no safety precaution can prevent every accident, taking care of your lot is a great place to start ensuring that your place of business is a little safer and more secure for everyone involved.
2. Lower Maintenance Costs for Roadways and Parking Lots
It’s true that these small maintenance jobs will require an investment. However, it costs far less to fix a small crack than it does to replace the pavement once it’s been ruined by a gaping pothole. By keeping up to date with small maintenance tasks, you save yourself the stress and expense of dealing with much larger problems down the road.
3. Increased Curb Appeal of Your Asphalt
If you have a commercial parking lot, it’s important that you don’t just think about function. You should also care about the lot’s appearance and the way you present your company to the world. A pitted, stained and faded parking lot does not feel welcoming to guests and may even leave them wondering if they should visit your business at all. A well-maintained lot, on the other hand, invites guests in and clearly gives the impression that you care about your business enough to give attention to even the smallest details of it.
Get Started on Your Spring Asphalt Cleaning with D.E. Gemmill
Is your lot or drive looking a little worse for the wear after a long, cold Pennsylvania winter? Now that spring is here, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get busy cleaning it up. For many businesses, their lots or roadways are too big to handle as a one-person job. If this sounds like you, then it may be time to call in the professionals. You can contact D.E. Gemmill for assistance with any asphalt maintenance services you need.
Here at D.E. Gemmill, we have more than 30 years of experience in the world of asphalt maintenance, and we’re excited to put the knowledge we have gained to work for you. Whether you’re looking for pavement maintenance and marking assistance or sealcoating services in PA, MD, VA or DE, we want to be your reliable partner.
Not ready to start your project yet but interested in learning more about the help we can offer? Contact us today and tell us about the work you need to be done. We’ll give you a free estimate on any essential spring asphalt maintenance tasks you have in mind.