Why Crack Sealing Extends the Life of your Asphalt Parking Lot
Crack sealing is a very important tool to fight the harmful effects of cracking on a parking lot. Cracks form on asphalt parking lots and drive lanes over time for many reasons. Asphalt expands and contracts due to temperature changes that lead to crack formation in the asphalt. Cracks also form from earth movement, general asphalt aging, and issues related to your original parking lot construction. Crack sealing can greatly extend the life of your parking lot and save you significant money over time.
How Do Cracks in Asphalt Cause Problems?
Asphalt cracks allow water, moisture, and debris to enter under the asphalt surface that lead to a variety of problems in your parking lot. Asphalt parking lots are supported underneath by a fine rock base that is heavily compacted and creates an important firm foundation for the asphalt parking lot to sit on. An asphalt parking lot is only as strong as the rock foundation underneath. Several problems occur when water and debris come in contact with the rock base under the parking lot:
- Water penetration shifts the rock base to form voids and create soft spots in the rock foundation. If the asphalt loses its foundation support from below along the crack, the asphalt will not be strong enough to withstand the heavy weight of cars pushing down on these weak areas. The asphalt will likely crack further and fail in these areas and a more costly asphalt replacement expense will follow in the future.
- In cold winters, water will freeze under a parking lot and in the asphalt cracks. When frozen water expands, the ice can push the parking lot upward or expand cracks further to create more costly replacement problems in these areas.
- As debris builds up in asphalt cracks, vegetation starts growing and roots take form in the crack and under the asphalt. As the vegetation grows, the roots grow too and can push the asphalt upward and lead to cracking and asphalt breakage.
How Does Crack Sealing Prevent These Problems?
Crack sealing seals the crack from water, moisture, and debris penetration. The crack sealing process cleans out a crack from debris prior to crack sealing. A hot pour rubberized asphalt crack sealant is then applied to the crack at a high temperature that will form to the exact shape of the crack while in a hot liquid form. As the crack sealant quickly cools, it hardens in the crack to form a firm hard seal to the crack that prevents water and debris penetration under the asphalt. This hot pour crack sealing process is the most effective treatment on the market and recommended for crack sealing. A 1999 DOT asphalt maintenance study confirmed the importance of timely asphalt maintenance
When Should I Crack Seal?
- Crack sealing should start when cracks in the parking lot exceed 1/8” wide, so the crack is wide enough to allow the sealant to fill the crack.
- Crack sealing is an effective treatment alone or in conjunction with seal coating (see this page for more information on seal coating).
- The crack sealing process should be repeated every 3 to 5 years to get the maximum protection.
The earlier asphalt cracks are sealed, the longer you’ll extend the life of your existing parking lot before facing expensive asphalt repair costs and even more expensive parking lot replacement costs.