A Guide To Low Spots On Asphalt Driveways
When first installed, an asphalt driveway is smooth with no low spots. Over time, low spots and ruts can develop, which can lead to progressively worse damages if they aren't addressed.
Causes of Low Spots
Low spots can form a variety of reasons. Ruts are one of the more common types of low spots on the asphalt. These are caused by parking an overly heavy vehicle, such as a work truck or RV, in the same spot repeatedly. The weight of the vehicle can eventually wear low ruts in some paving. A lot of weight on a single spot, such as on the tongue stand of a trailer, can also result in a divot or low area in the asphalt.
Low spots can also form due to problems within the asphalt. Poor drainage can wash out some of the base material, causing the pavement to sink into the depression. Low spots can also occur if the base material shifts or is pushed aside, such as by a tree root.
The problem with a low spot, whether it's from a rut or a sinking pavement surface, is that it is just the beginning of the damage. Low spots collect water, which will slowly permeate the asphalt. Low temperatures can then freeze the water and cause it to expand, which further breaks apart the asphalt. Eventually, the result is large cracks and potholes.
Low spots can also indicate base failure. What begins as just a small depression in the asphalt will steadily spread as more of the base material gives out and shifts. Eventually, this will cause the asphalt surface to degrade and crack sufficiently to affect the usefulness of the driveway.
Repair and Prevention
Repair is sometimes possible if the damage is just on the surface or if it is highly localized. Small depressions can be filled with a hot asphalt patch to smooth them out. For problems affecting only a small section of the base material, your contractor can cut out the damaged asphalt. They will then rebuild the compromised section of the base and install an asphalt patch. More severe base damage may require a full rebuild.
Prevention begins at installation. A strong and well-compacted base that combines integrated drainage will prevent erosion from causing base issues and low spots. For those that park heavy vehicles, the asphalt can be reinforced at the time of installation so it can handle the heavier weight without rut formation.
Contact an asphalt paving company, such as Sol & Simon Asphalt Paving, to learn more.