An asphalt parking lot can last for decades with proper maintenance. Cracks are one of the main concerns on this type of paving. Knowing how cracks form can help you prevent them.
The main cause of cracks on asphalt is weathering. Exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, combined with wind and rain, can wear down the surface of the asphalt and cause small cracks to form. Sealing the asphalt annually will help prevent weathering because it provides a protective coating over the pavement. Spring, after your lot is cleaned but before new lines are painted, is an excellent time to have the asphalt sealed.
2. Traffic Loading
Every lot is constructed for a specific traffic load. Your asphalt paving company can help you determine the load limits for your lot. If too much weight or traffic is passing over the lot, the chances of the asphalt developing alligator cracks increases. You can minimize traffic load by creatively arranging parking spaces and using lot barriers so cars don't use your lot as a shortcut. You may also need to make sure heavier vehicles, like delivery trucks, use your loading area and don't drive over the main lot.
3. Moisture Leaks
Moisture leaks occur when small cracks are ignored. Water seeps into the cracks, where it can freeze and expand. This expansion weakens the asphalt and makes the cracks larger, sometimes resulting in a pothole. You may not be able to prevent every small crack, but you can prevent moisture leaks. Inspect your lot regularly and have any cracks or developing cracks promptly patched by your paving company.
4. Snow Maintenance Damage
In areas with snowfall, how you remove snow can affect your parking lot. Plain salt, for example, causes oversaturation issues, which increases the chances of pitting or cracking in the pavement. Only use chemical ice melts on paved areas. Your plow service also needs to avoid chipping at the lot surface when plowing. The blade should be lifted slightly so that it doesn't come in direct contact with your paving.
5. Foundation Failure
Your parking lot is only as strong as its foundation. If an area begins to sink, cracks may form in a radiating pattern from the sunken area. Unfortunately, foundation issues aren't easily repaired. Generally, a failing foundation is a sign that a lot has reached the end of its life and needs to be replaced.
Contact a commercial paving service to learn how to prevent and repair cracks in your parking lot.