Preventative maintenance is key in protecting one of the largest investments of any association, the parking lots. The sealing process blocks out water and traps the light oils, keeping your asphalt softer and more flexible. Close attention to at least some of the following factors can help you to increase the lifetime of this community asset.
Why has the quality of asphalt mix diminished?
Oil price increases have forced asphalt producers to search for new ways to be competitive. Where it was originally “added to” the formula, as much as ½ of new hot mix asphalt is now made from ground up old parking lots and streets. Though a lot less expensive to buy, it doesn’t hold up nearly as well as a new virgin mixture. The Department of Transportation regulates the percent of the old material that can be used in government jobs, but manufacturers otherwise self-regulate its usage. A big concern is that by the time the old asphalt is recycled the stickiness of its tar is already mostly gone.
How does oxidation affect the pavement?
The increase in ultra violet rays has contributed more than anything else to deterioration of an asphalt parking area. Oxidation starts as soon as the hot mix is laid, and as the sun beats down on, the tar’s light oils start to evaporate. This, as well as aging, creates oxidation – turning your pavement grey as it becomes harder and less flexible. Several years ago, parking areas would stay black for a year or more, and now they are beginning to grey as early as a couple of months; the color change is your first sign that oxidation is taking place.
Why is water exposure a factor in asphalt deterioration?
Most parking areas are now surrounded by irrigated landscaping that can cause water to pond or puddle. It’s also important to make certain your asphalt mix isn’t the kind designed for roads, as contractors have found if they take the sand out it can reduce the amount of necessary tar; fine for roads but not as good looking for parking lots, and it also allows greater water penetration.
How have design changes impacted the life of parking areas?
Designers have engineered the construction of flatter lots to try to control the costs of developments, also reducing the size of storm water retention ponds. Where parking areas historically were laid on slopes which provided natural run off protection, later designs lengthened the water run off, which also prolonged water exposure; savings in the one area gives way to damage expenses in the other.
Seal Coating isn’t just about appearances, and it certainly isn’t an expense you should arbitrarily delay. Schedule a Seal Coating of your common area asphalt every two to three years – it’s just as important as changing your car’s oil every three to five thousand miles.