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Good Drainage Matters

by | Dec 27, 2018

When properly planned and executed, asphalt has potential as an outstanding decades-long solution for both drivers and pedestrians. Nevertheless a variety of conditions may conspire to shorten this lifespan and trigger the premature aging and failure of the asphalt surface. Of these threats, standing water is one of the worst. 

Freeze and Thaw

The worst of water’s potential for damage is due to its unique molecular structure. While virtually all other substances shrink as they freeze, H2O molecules crystalize and expand, causing a set volume of water to take up more space during and push against its surroundings in the process.

Types of Water Damage

Water can damage an asphalt surface in several different ways. This damage is exacerbated by temperate climates with hot summers and freezing winters. Here in West Michigan, we experience the worst of both. 

  • Cracks and Damage: If the asphalt surface develops cracks due to heavy use, poor paving methods, temperature changes, or physical damage the resulting gaps are an avenue for moisture to get deep into the asphalt material. Ice formation here will rapidly increase the rate of damage over time.
  • Undermining: Water saturation below the asphalt pavement, due to poor drainage, will weaken and wash away the supporting materials in the aggregate base and subgrade. This erodes the asphalt’s support and can lead to collapse and large-scale pavement failure.
  • Heaving: If too much water is trapped below the asphalt layer, it may also freeze and expand in a large ‘ice lens’ that heaves the asphalt up and down as the temperature drops and rises and causes expanding damage with each motion.
  • Standing Water: Standing puddles of water that gather in a depression in the asphalt surface will very slowly work away at the oil-based asphalt binder. Over a long period, this action will result in small cracks that gradually expand into a pothole, regardless of the temperature.

Drainage Guidelines

From rain to snow, sleet, dew, and flooding, your asphalt will get wet and often. A proper drainage system keeps this water from pooling on or below the asphalt layer to prolong its life and avoid preventable water damage. 

The drainage should be accomplished by constructing new pavement with at least a 1% slope, installing a high quality aggregate base, and planning drains or other methods for removing the water from the paving surface at the edges. For expert assistance in planning or paving your own surface, or for asphalt repairs or other service in West Michigan, please contact the expert team at Stripe-A-Lot. We have the tools, training, and experience necessary to meet your needs and exceed your expectations!

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