Complete Guide to Pothole Patching
Potholes occur when moisture penetrates the cracks in an asphalt surface. Cold weather freezes the water and causes it to expand. A pothole forms when dirt and gravel is forced out, leaving a hole. The ice eventually melts and the stressed asphalt becomes a pothole. Most potholes form in late winter, early spring when the rain or snow seep into the cracks.
Cold Mix vs. Hot Mix
Pothole repairs can be done year round, using either hot or cold mix. Cold mix is easier to work with in cooler temperatures. Therefore, it is usually used during the winter and spring months. Hot mix generally isn't available during the winter months as the asphalt plants are usually closed. Hot and cold mix generally use the same materials, the difference being that the materials are heated at high temperatures with the hot mix. Some argue that the hot mix is more durable, but ultimately it is an individual preference.
Pothole Repair Methods
- Throw & Go: most widely used method. Patching mix is thrown into the pothole along with the debris and water that is already present. The patching is compacted manually with a shovel.
- Throw & Roll: very similar to the the throw and go method except that the mix is compacted by a truck slowly driving over the repaired area. This method is more durable then the throw and go due to the compaction of the patching mix with the tire.
- Semi-Permanent Repair: pothole is completely removed of any water and debris. The pothole is also squared with all uneven edges being cut. Then it is cleaned out again and the patching mix is applied. Finally, the area is compacted with a single drum roller or a vibratory plate compacter. This method is the most durable and provides the longest lasting patch.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, patches in the winter months won't hold up as well. During the winter, the goal is to repair the pavement as quickly as possible. Therefore, the throw and go method is favored, providing high-quality material is used. In the summer, conditions are more ideal so the semi-permanent repair is preferred. Using this method while the conditions are ideal, creates patches that will last.
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