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Crack Sealing 101

Everyone knows it’s bad when your pavement cracks. But very few people understand why. Here are three main reasons:

  1. Cracking leads to more cracking; if it goes untreated, the problem escalates.
  2. Water makes its way through those cracks, which can lead to potholes. These are objectively worse than cracks.
  3. Cracks are just so dang ugly.

So, here’s how to seal the cracking in your pavement, protect your surface, and preserve your curb appeal.

You Can Only Seal “The Right Type of Crack”

This is a bit of an oversimplification. But speaking broadly, we seal the cracks that look like a straight or crooked line. If you’re interested in the technical terms, those are usually called transverse cracks and longitudinal cracks. But cracking that looks more like a spider web—called “alligator cracking”—isn’t right for sealing. Neither is cracking that looks like an elaborate sequence of alien crop circles.

Try to Catch the Cracking Early

Cracking is like any other problem; it gets worse over time. For example, when the temperature fluctuates, your pavement expands and contracts. That’s normal. But when you have cracking in your pavement, that expansion and contraction will make the cracking even worse. Once the crack is wider than 1.5 inches, it’s not right for sealing and has to go through a different, more complicated (more expensive) process. So, you always want to jump on these things early. (Or call Black Diamond and we’ll jump on it for you.)

Cleaning the Crack

The first step we do is to make sure the crack is completely free of debris. That cleanliness creates an ideal surface for the sealant to stick to.

The Hot Air Lance

As we’ve mentioned above, the sealant has trouble bonding to wet surfaces. But it’s not just water we need to worry about. Asphalt has a natural presence of oils, and we have to blast the crack with a hot-air lance that burns those oils away. These things can get up to 2,000 or 3,000 degrees, so it’s important this is done by a true professional. There’s a delicate balance between burning away the oils and using so much heat you damage the remaining pavement.

Selecting the Right Sealant

We’re almost ready to seal the crack, but there are different types of sealants we could use. Some are more flexible. Others are more rigid. When we take a look at your pavement, we assess many factors, such as the climate in your location, the amount of traffic your pavement gets, and the overall scope of the project. Like most things, crack sealing isn’t a one-size-fits-all job.

Sealing the Crack

Now it’s time to seal the crack. And for that, we need to bring out our trusty “pour pot.” As the name suggests, this helps us pour the sealant over the crack. Then we even it out with an asphalt squeegee. And after the sealant cures, traffic can get back on the surface. Keep in mind that you will still see the cracks but they will be sealed.

For all you #satisfying fans, we have a video where you can see our crack sealing process in action. Or give us a call to watch us fix up your pavement in real life—which is more than #satisfying. It’s just good sense.

The Pothole Problem

Picture this: You’re driving to work, sipping your coffee and then it happens. Your car hits a depression in the road, your coffee goes flying, and the party grinds to a halt. Congratulations! You’ve just hit one of 55 million potholes in the United States.

The Formation of Potholes

Like anything else, pavement is susceptible to wear and tear. Maybe the roads around your property are heavily trafficked. Maybe they experience extreme changes in temperature. Maybe they’re frequented by abnormally heavy vehicles. Or maybe they’re just a bit aged. Eventually, no matter the situation, cracks will begin to form in your pavement. And those cracks create passageways where water can seep into the ground. And from there, the stage is set.

Over time, water continues funneling into the cracks and, little by little, washes away a layer of dirt or water-soluble rock. The problem is that this layer used to be the pavement’s foundation. And in the absence of that foundation, there’s nothing left to prop the pavement up. By the time something heavy rolls along—whether that’s a truck, a car, a school bus, etc.—the unsupported pavement collapses, and a pothole is born.

Where Do Potholes Form?

The short answer: Everywhere.

Most people associate potholes with roadways. And while you’ll definitely find plenty of them as you’re driving along city streets, potholes can form anywhere there’s pavement. So, if you run an HOA, you might have to deal with potholes in your community’s streets and driveways. If you manage a retail location, you might find potholes in your parking lot. If you’re a non-profit, or any other commercial entity responsible for pavement, unfortunately you’ll probably have to deal with potholes at some point, too.

Why It’s Important to Fix Potholes

You really want to stay on top of repairing potholes as soon as you spot them for a few main reasons:

  1. Potholes can get worse—what starts as a simple fix could end up becoming far more complex (i.e. expensive) if you let the problem fester.
  2. Potholes can become a safety hazard, causing personal injury to pedestrians and property damage to vehicles. That means they can create a liability for your property, both personally and financially. No want.
  3. Fixing those unsightly potholes raises your curb appeal, which makes your property far more desirable to renters, buyers, customers…people, in general. Yes, repairing damaged pavement costs money, but it could also mean more revenue in the long run.

How Black Diamond Can Help

Black Diamond Paving fights the good fight against potholes on a daily basis, and we offer several services that will keep your property crater-free:

  • Sealcoating: One of the easiest ways to prevent these disagreeable divots is to stay on top of sealcoating your asphalt. This adds a protective layer to the surface of your pavement, preventing cracks from forming in the first place.
  • Crack Sealing: If cracks do form, there’s still hope. Crack sealing plugs up any crevices in your asphalt and helps keep water from eroding the pavement’s foundation.
  • Patch Paving: If, despite your best efforts, potholes do form (perhaps the previous property manager wasn’t a believer in preventive measures, or perhaps your asphalt is just nearing that point in its life cycle), there’s still no need to fret. If we find your property is a good candidate for it, we can undertake a patch paving job—digging out the failed sections and replacing them with new, thicker asphalt.

No matter your pothole situation—mild, major, or merely preventive—Black Diamond can help. Give us a call today!

To Buy or Not to Buy?

We talk a lot on our Love2Pave blog about the steps you can take to ensure your surfaces stay in tip top shape for all of your existing properties. But our expertise in all things asphalt and concrete can be a real asset when you are considering making an acquisition as well.

The acquisition equation has a lot of parts and pieces, whether the property is large or small. Part of that decision-making is assessing the condition of the property and the intended uses and incorporating that into your bid and future plans. The sheer volume of paved surfaces in any given property means it is a real factor in future maintenance as well as a real contributor in aesthetics and ease of use for owners and tenants alike.

There are several things the experts at Black Diamond Paving & Concrete can do to help you navigate acquisitions from the very beginning, through purchase and implementation of any repairs that need to be addressed.

1. Observe and Assess

First, we’ll walk the property with you and do an assessment of where it hits on the Pavement Life Cycle. This will give you great insight into what you’re looking at in terms of future maintenance dollars. Every surface contains markers of where it stands on its overall life span, and breaking this down into accurate and easy language keeps current and future decision-making simple.

2. Discuss Goals

Second, we’ll discuss the short term and long term goals of the property. This is important when coming up with the budget going forward. Specifically, we’ll talk about investing in the conditions of your surfaces as they apply to the timeline of owning the property. The timing of future planned maintenance is also a worthy topic to explore. For instance, if the property will not be occupied during the purchase transition it may make sense to be proactive and achieve great strides before tenants are present.

3. Present Recommendations and Estimate

Third, we’ll present our recommendations and plans to you along with a budget estimate. This information is a critical part of the file you build for the property and will act as a blueprint for work going forward for property managers as well as investors.

4. Provide Scope and Proposal

Once the acquisition is complete, we’ll provide a work scope with any revisions that are necessary along with a formal proposal. Then we’ll get to work doing what we do best, ensuring that your asphalt and concrete surfaces look great and serve you well for years to come.

The sum total of this knowledge means you will be well prepared to approach the purchase confidently and minimize budget surprises. As with all things surface-wise, a penny of prevention will lead to a pound of cure.

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