The Cause of Potholes

The Cause of Potholes

Asphalt is a wonderful material offering a smooth, level, and durable surface. However, its very nature makes it prone to potholes that make for an uncomfortable bump and unattractive appearance in your driveway or parking lot. Once a pothole forms, it’s going to have you reaching for the phone to call a commercial paving company in Abington, PA, to get it fixed.

You can’t ignore the appearance of a pothole as it’s only going to get worse over time. There are various reasons as to why the pothole formed, but all of them can be addressed in the form of a repair of the upper layer or underlayment. Here’s a look at the common causes of potholes.

The Frost-Freeze Cycle

This is the biggest cause of potholes in roadways, parking lots, and driveways. The state of Pennsylvania experiences all four seasons and the occasional extreme weather event. In wintertime, water finds its way into the asphalt where it eventually freezes. When water freezes, it expands and pushes apart the gravel in the asphalt. It also breaks up the binding agent, causing the asphalt to break apart and erode.

You may not see the pothole forming at first, but as the frost-freeze cycle keeps happening, the pothole grows. The initial hole in the asphalt allows for more water to get in and freeze, putting more pressure on the surrounding asphalt. The pothole keeps growing until it’s addressed by a paving company from Collegeville, PA, and surrounding areas.

Wear and Tear

Bitumen, a tar-like substance, is used to bind aggregate together and create asphalt. The stone aggregate that’s used in asphalt is tough and withstands the pressure of vehicles passing over it. In contrast, bitumen melts at hot temperatures and under direct sunlight. This causes the asphalt to degrade over time as vehicles roll over the surface, loosening the aggregate from the bitumen.

When there’s sufficient loss of aggregate and bitumen in a concentrated area, a pothole forms and grows. The action of wheels passing over the pothole weakens the edges and creates more loss as time passes. The pothole keeps growing until the issue is addressed.

Surface Cracks

Asphalt is always at risk of cracking from weather and traffic conditions. When a crack forms, it can let in water which adds to the erosion of the bitumen. Another factor is the fact that a crack is a weak point in the asphalt, which means the weight and action of a car rolling over the crack causes it to spread further. As the crack spreads wider, it allows the asphalt to deteriorate and form a pothole.

Water Runoff

Asphalt’s main weakness is water, and when water pools or runs off in the same section for a long period of time, it erodes the asphalt. The bitumen is gradually washed away, and the aggregate is pushed out by the water’s action. As previously noted, when a section of asphalt is weakened, the surrounding layer erodes and results in the formation of a pothole.

Fixing Potholes

Potholes can be repaired through patching, but sometimes the issue requires a comprehensive fix to prevent it from returning. Cutting out a larger section of asphalt, changing how water flows through an area, or fixing the underlayment may be necessary. A call to a Pennsylvania paving company for an evaluation is the best course of action for fixing a pothole.

Contact Kelly’s Paving & Concrete for Asphalt Repair

At Kelly’s Paving & Concrete, we’ve been providing pothole repair for residential and commercial properties for over 25 years. We’re familiar with the issues that cause potholes in driveways and parking lots, and we can fix and correct issues to stop them from forming again. Give us a call today and learn more about how we can help you get rid of your potholes.