Maintenance Monday: Don’t Let Poor Drainage Take Your Parking Lot Down The Drain!

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With the wetter, cooler conditions of fall upon us and winter in full swing, it’s a good time to check your parking lot and other asphalt applications for signs of poor drainage and damage. It’s much easier and less expensive to catch a problem early and correct it than it is to wait until that small cracked area spreads to half the lot. With this in mind, here are four signs you should look for to check if your parking lot drainage is working as it should.

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  1. Rocks or sand in unusual places

If, after a heavy rain, you notice rocks or sand in low-lying areas, this may be an early warning sign that something’s wrong with your drainage. The water from the rain may actually be eating away at the asphalt and flushing away the solid particles of sand and rock aggregate that make up asphalt. To make sure it’s not runoff from the street or areas higher up, look for consistent ripples or waves in the deposits which are larger at the higher end and taper off toward the lower side of your lot. If you see this, your lot is probably okay, unless you see large areas where the sediment and rocks have gathered. This indicates possible low spots which could cause problems later.

 

  1. Pools of water or flow down the middle of the lot

Most asphalt parking lots today are designed along a slight but apparent slope to facilitate runoff. Likewise, they are usually built with an engineered high point called a “crown,” which is intended to direct water away from the middle of the lot and down toward the drain points. Pooling and water flowing directly down the middle of the lot suggests the crown has been compromised or a possible issue with the subgrade, which will need to be addressed before the asphalt begins to buckle.

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  1. Cracking

If you start to see cracks developing, especially in areas where you also see heavy water flow and/or residue such as described above, this is a sign the asphalt is beginning to fail because the water is breaking down the bitumen binder. This may also be a sign of traffic outside the asphalt’s design tolerances being present, such as large amounts of heavy trucks or construction equipment. In either case, once cracking begins, water can infiltrate the asphalt surface and accelerate the rate of failure, making repairing it a priority before it gets out of control.

 

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  1. Are your drain inlets working as they should?

Periodically, it’s a good idea to check your streetside and in-lot drainage inlets to ensure they’re clear of obstructions and debris which may prevent them from working as expected. In many cases, asphalt failure can be traced back to a blocked drain inlet which hasn’t been corrected. Regular property walkthroughs can help you spot problems like this before they become severe enough to warrant repair or rehab of your parking lot, and keep it working the way you expect it to for years to come.

For more information about drainage or to speak with Calvac Paving about your parking lot or other asphalt and concrete construction needs, click here to contact us!