What Causes Potholes and How to Fix Them

October 31, 2018 Published by Leave your thoughts

Potholes are very problematic for roads and vehicles. They typically form on neglected stretches of roadway. While there is no such thing as pavement that is pothole-proof, there are certainly steps that can be taken to help avoid them and to repair them if they do form.

But how exactly do potholes form, and what are the best ways to fix them? Here’s some information about asphalt paving in Phoenix, AZ to help you understand when potholes become a problem that needs to be addressed.

How potholes form

The basic method most commonly used for paving roads today dates back to the 1800s, though there have, of course, been some significant technological improvements since then. The general idea is that you have a large layer of gravel put down over dirt or bedrock, then top that layer with smaller stones that are bonded together with a petroleum-based product. This so-called emulsification is known today as asphalt—it is compressed to such a degree that it becomes largely resistant to moisture.

This water resistance is an extremely important property to have in roadways and other paved areas. In fact, many roads are also constructed with a slight grade that leads off the center to either side to prevent water from settling in any given area. Rainwater and, in colder climates, melting snow and ice then flush off to the sides of the roads. Without this drainage, the buildup of water could result in some damage to the pavement over time.

While Phoenix isn’t susceptible to the freezing and thawing cycles that do some major damage to the roadways of the Northeast and Midwest, there are still some areas where water tends to accumulate, which can result in the water finding its way into the sublayers of the road and eroding the dirt beneath it, causing the pavement to collapse and form a pothole.

The passage of time and exposure to a lot of traffic can also result in potholes forming, especially if the roads are neglected when cracks form.

Preventative measures

So what steps can be taken to help prevent potholes from occurring? Here are some recommendations:

  • Proper grading: Roads should always be developed with proper grading to ensure water flows off to the sides and avoids sitting in the middle where potholes can form.
  • Better drainage at low spots: Underpasses and other naturally low areas are easy areas for water to collect, so it’s important for these spaces to have good drainage.
  • Road maintenance: Roads that get overly neglected are much more likely to have issues with potholes, so it’s important to repave roads every now and then, especially if holes or cracks start to form. The more of these little holes that open up, the more likely it is that water will seep in and cause some damage underneath the road.

For more information about asphalt paving in Phoenix, AZ and how to prevent potholes from developing, contact Sunstar Seal Coating, Inc. today and we’ll be happy to provide you with some tips.

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