You might not know what causes potholes, but you sure know when you hit one. For a brief explanation of how potholes form, stick with us for a minute. We promise we won’t dive into a bunch of historical facts or technical jargon.
After we talk about how potholes form, we’ll share a few things about fixing them since fixing potholes is just as important as knowing how they got there in the first place.
How Are Potholes Made?
Also, we don’t try to create potholes—it’s not like playing in a sandbox—they form out of natural phenomena. When you have traffic and water, it’s inevitable; potholes will form. They usually form on roads and parking lots, but if you’re a homeowner with an asphalt driveway, you can get them too.
When road crews build roadways, they construct them with layers. They make the top layer water-resistant. It’s also curved so that water drains off the road and onto the shoulder.
All potholes start out as cracks. Two things cause cracks in asphalt: traffic and temperature.
During the day, the heat of the sun causes asphalt to expand. While at night, when temperatures cool, asphalt contracts. Over time the expand/contract routine causes cracks.
Since water always looks for the path of least resistance, it finds even the smallest cracks and seeps in. This isn’t such a bad thing during the summer, but in winter, nighttime temps can get cold enough to freeze any water that seeps in during the day. The water comes from rain and snowmelt.
Eventually, the ice melts, and when it does, the pavement contracts, leaving gaps under the surface. More water gets in, and the whole freeze/thaw cycle continues. Traffic causes stress on the road, or parking lot, and the cracks widen.
Soon enough, you have weak spots in the pavement. Cars and trucks roll over the weak spots causing asphalt to break down. Eventually, the broken-down material gets stuck on enough tires or thrown up in the road and then a pothole forms.
Repairing potholes is a challenge as one has to not only fill the hole but also seal it to keep water from getting into any cracks.
Fixing Potholes Isn’t for the Weak of Heart
If you decide you’re up for the challenge of fixing potholes on your own, you might want to give it a little more consideration before gathering your tools.
The job might not be too difficult if you’re a homeowner with an average size driveway. Still, if you’re a business owner with a parking lot full of potholes, the repair is better left to a professional paving contractor.
Before a contractor can even start filling in a pothole, they clean it out and square it off. If they don’t, the asphalt patch may not fill the hole. Then, they pour patch material in the hole, create a mount, and tamp it down.
If you can see yourself, or one of your employees doing this for every pothole in your lot, go for it. Keep in mind there are risks associated with do-it-yourself repair jobs.
The Risks of DYI Pothole Repair
Last year a couple of guys in the Midwest decided they could handle the potholes in their neighborhood on their own. Probably not a good idea to follow their lead since your city may frown on its citizens tinkering with roadways.
If you own a home and want to tackle the project, keep a few things in mind. You may end up repairing your repair much sooner if you make these mistakes:
- Using a cold patch when a hot patch would work better
- Not cleaning out the hole thoroughly.
- Not compacting enough.
If a pothole is not properly repaired on the first go-round, your money and time are wasted. Since you may have more money than time, why not get the job done right the first time and hire a professional?
The Price of Ignoring a Pothole
The average cost to repair one pothole is about $35-$50, with the possible cost of between $100-$150 to get the equipment and crew out to your location. When you consider the price you may pay for ignoring potholes, it makes sense to get the job done as soon as possible.
If you own a business and have customers visiting, it’s essentially poor customer service to force them to park and walk on a lot full of holes. Left alone, potholes are unsightly and won’t attract many new customers. Your fellow business owners may also lodge complaints against you.
The damage potholes can do to vehicles is likely more costly. If you or an employee run-over a pothole, there’s a risk of damaging tires and the car’s suspension. Here are a few costs associated with pothole damage:
- Tire Replacement – $75 to $300
- Bent Wheel – $50 to $500
- Struts and Shock Absorbers – $500 to $600
- Wheel Alignment – $125 to $300
Ouch to all of the above! Cars can also suffer damage to exhaust systems and bumpers. In order to avoid damaging your vehicle and your business vehicles, it’s best to take care of potholes when you realize you have them.
Keep in mind, not fixing potholes could expose you and your business to legal problems if someone damages their car on your property.
How Repairing Asphalt Cracks Prevents Potholes
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to prevent potholes from developing in the first place?
Making sure you’re proactive about making asphalt repairs is one way you can avoid potholes developing. When you notice a small crack, call your paving contractor and have them come out and take care of it. Crack filling and crack sealing are both options.
Another method used for preventing potholes is seal coating. Sealcoating protects asphalt from damage caused by sunlight, oil and other automotive fluids, and also prevents water seepage.
See, there’s a solution that doesn’t cost you your customers, your vehicle, or the safety of people who drive on your parking lot.
How Much Does Fixing Potholes Cost?
When pricing out how much fixing potholes costs, your contractor will assess how many potholes you have, how wide, long, and deep they are, and what method will work best for your unique situation.
With a starting cost of around $35 to $50 for each pothole, you should also figure in any labor costs associated with getting a crew and their truck and other construction equipment out to your business.
The bottom line when considering costs for repair is that your repair is likely less than what you’ll pay for vehicle damage, physical damage if someone falls because they trip over a pothole and damage to your business reputation.
Need Help Fixing Potholes?
Now that we’ve explained how potholes form, the potential damage they can do, and risks of taking on the job without the help of a professional, we’re certain you’ll decide it’s time to get help.
If you’re ready to take care of fixing potholes at your home or business, contact us, and we’ll schedule a time to come out and get your project started.