What Causes a Pothole
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Taking a fix rather than maintain approach to caring for roads and car parks is an unacceptable liability that increases risks of personal injury and huge unplanned costs.
How RENOO Infrared Pothole and Tarmac Repair technology is making the 'fix it early' attitude affordable.
Taking a proactive approach to the maintenance of assets lies at the heart of effective facilities management. Indeed, a strategic approach to inspections and to planning and carrying out maintenance or Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) over the lifecycle of a building pretty much defines best practice and is key to extending the lifespan and preserving the value of a property. And yet, for some reason this discipline is rarely extended to roads and carparks onsite. Stepping beyond the doors of even the best-kept property after a spell of cold weather will present apparent evidence of this neglect in the form of potholes.
Neglect might seem like a loaded term in this context, as potholes may appear to be as much a seasonal inevitability as autumn leaves or icy pavements. Potholes form as water that penetrates the road surface freezes, expands and then thaws to leave a cavity that then collapses. Water can enter via even tiny cracks in the surface. And even when repaired, the issue can seem frustratingly persistent as the same areas repeatedly develop further potholes. Indeed, this unwinnable game of whack a mole is one of the factors that can lead to car parks repairs being viewed as a lower priority.
However potholes are the visible scars of long-term damage and once roads get to this state you are starting to lose the battle in terms of preserving the life expectancy of your surface. Patching potholes is possible, but the weaknesses remain, as the edges of the repair then become the points of weakness that can allow water penetration - hence the tendency for further potholes to emerge in the same area in future. Ultimately, when a surface is damaged to this degree the only real way to address the problem is to resurface the area completely. Bills for such repairs can amount to tens of thousands of pounds once additional costs, such as white lining are taken into account. For larger carparks, these costs can even run to six figures. This level of unplanned expenditure will significantly exceed the budgets set aside by landlords or tenants for maintenance work.
In many cases, there is simply no choice but to undertake repairs: Potholes are of course, much more than a visual blight, but also a pose a real risk to both vehicles and pedestrians. In the latter case, the risks of legal action should be of most concern as organisations have a Duty of Care to keep staff, visitors and passers by safe while on their premises. Recent years have seen an increase in litigation, with trips and falls the source of some of the largest compensation claims. Sectors such as retail, railways or hospitals with high levels of pedestrian traffic are particularly exposed in this respect and have to be able to demonstrate that every care has been taken to mitigate risks. It is worth noting that the penalties for being in breach of Health & Safety legislation are becoming tougher, with severe penalties being imposed not just for injuries arising from neglected potholes, but also from potential injuries.
Yet despite this clear obligation, the punitive costs of repairs means that it is still common to see car parks and private roads being left in a downward spiral of potholes, patching, and more potholes - a crumbling state that reflects badly on owners and tenants alike and ultimately impacts significantly on the overall value of the property.
So why do property owners and facilities managers take such financial and reputational risks by letting pothole damage go too far when their duty of care is so clear-cut and neglect runs counter to well-established risk assessment practices? In many respects, the key factor is the degree of disruption that even a small repair can cause, particularly in a high traffic area. For example, to carry out repairs to a single pothole in a car park will still require a large amount of working space to cut out and repair the damaged area - including space for the equipment and vans and sufficient room to keep other vehicles and the public safe from dust and debris. Repairs also require several hours before the surface is ready for use. A further factor is the relatively high cost of carrying out smaller incremental repairs, particularly as tarmac is generally sold in tonne batches. For this very reason, small pothole repairs are often fitted in by contractors after a larger job to use up remaining materials, but this use of less fresh tarmac results in lower quality repairs that are more likely to fail. It therefore seems to make some economic sense to hold off works until there’s a greater volume to do - but only if you ignore the potential liabilities from personal injury claims.
Given how potholes form from even the smallest cracks, it would make more sense to treat these proactively rather than attempting to manage the problem after the fact. After all, we accept that repairing a tiny crack in a car windshield early is the best way to avoid replacing the whole screen at a later date. Yet, the practical and economic factors described above have proven a major barrier to adopting a best practice preventative approach to repairs. However, the game has now changed thanks to the development of Infrared pothole and tarmac repair technology.
Infrared repairs are a proven innovation that is popular in the US and in other European countries but is still relatively unfamiliar in the UK as only a few service providers covering limited local areas, have made the capital investment in the technology. The solution uses an infrared heater, which emits IR waves that heats the existing tarmac so it can be seamlessly bonded with new material. The technique doesn’t require the old material to be cut out or removed at all so is considerably less disruptive in terms of dust, noise and space and far cheaper with regards to materials and waste disposal. During the process, rejuvenating oils are applied which also returns the re-used materials in the repair and the surrounding areas to a freshly made condition, which helps extend the life of the treated area. As well as producing virtually zero waste, reusing and making good the old material means that this approach is an environmentally friendly. It’s also fast: When compacted and sealed, the surface can look as good as new and be ready for use again in around half an hour.
The price, speed and convenience of Infrared repairs decisively shifts the economics of maintaining a car park and road surface and makes smaller repairs not only more affordable but also preferable from practical and aesthetic reasons. But beyond this, the seamless nature of repairs means that there’s no weak joints that will increase the possibility of further potholes. Definitely no more whack a mole.
The low awareness of the alternative and more cost effective approach enabled by Infrared means that today’s property owners and facilities managers are very much locked into a “fix rather than maintain” mindset. To adapt, evaluate the potential full costs and impact of unplanned expenditure and also assess the potential liabilities that your organisation is exposed to through personal injury risks. Quantifying these is key to making a business case for allocating a small ongoing budget for repairs. Alongside this, it is important to recalibrate policies and processes for inspections and when to take preventative action.
Finally, it’s time to stop seeing potholes as a seasonal inevitability but rather an unacceptable risk to people, budgets, and brand reputation. Roads and carparks can be one of the most expensive assets to replace, but thanks to the improved economics of newly available technology and a viable PPM approach, there’s really no need for your business to fall down on potholes.
To learn more about Infrared Pothole and Tarmac repair services and planning for a pothole free car park and tarmac surfaces, contact our team of experts.
Poorly maintained car parks, rutted roads, whatever or however you choose to describe them, potholes are not just an issue solely related to the main road network, avenues and lanes outside of your business.
Years of under investment in the UK road network has led to an on-going battle come spring to get our roads, car parks and foot ways back to even the minimum standards required.
Therefore due to the limited amount of budget available logically speaking it seems perfectly sensible to save up all your resource for when you expect to have the greatest volume of serious issues. However it's this very approach that is contributing to the problem.
So when is the best time to get out there and carry out repairs?
Potholes are quite a contentious issue right now, with more and more appearing on our roads and pavements every day. Whether it’s down to poor road maintenance, extreme weather or poor repair treatments, it’s important to figure out the best way to tackle them and hopefully stop them from re-appearing in the same place any time soon.
In light of this, we’re taking a look at the pros and cons of pothole repair solutions /methods to see which one comes out on top ensuring your site is not left with dangerous potholes like the one in the image above.
Option 1) Doing nothing
You may be surprised at how many people identify a pothole on their premises, street or walkway and decide to do nothing in the hope that it will miraculously go away - it definitely won’t. An untreated pothole is not only a danger to pedestrians and can cause damage to passing cars, but also it is only going to get worse. What starts out as a small fracture on the surface, will get deeper and bigger if left alone, due to the fact it’s more exposed to the elements. This in turn will cost you more in repairs in the long term, as a smaller pothole is much easier and cheaper to repair.
If you have spotted a pothole, you may look to do a temporary repair, which can be a cost effective and quick pothole fix as it will cause less disruption in areas with heavy traffic, and is better suited to repairing potholes during poor weather conditions as it uses a cold material to fill the hole. However, the problem is that temporary repairs are exactly that, temporary. Thus you will eventually have to apply another temporary repair or look for a permanent repair solution, which will inevitably end up costing you more time and money.
The conventional permanent repair for potholes involves cutting a rectangular or square area around the pothole (called a cold joint) that gives a clean, straight surface for the repair material to adhere to. Before applying the hot bitumen (asphalt), the hole is also cleared of any loose debris and coated with a bituminous sealant. This ensures the hot bitumen solution takes the surface properly, once it has been compacted down to level it out.
This type of solution is understandably much more time consuming and but also far more effective than a temporary repair, however can have much larger cost implications as it requires more manpower, equipment and expertise. Plus, it doesn’t always solve the problem of potholes in a specific area and can still mean a complete resurfacing job.
The cold joint in between the existing and new surfaces is a point of weakness, any water penetrating into the joint will result in failure and ultimately another pothole.
Another option for pothole repair is to use infrared technology, which fuses the old surface with the new far more effectively than the permanent or temporary repair methods. This will mean that pothole repairs are much more effective, as you are left with no cold joints like the conventional repair, making the surface more durable and robust. In addition this durability means it can be a very cost effective pothole repair solution too, as fewer repairs will be needed in the future.
Infrared repair is also the most environmentally friendly and long lasting of all methods as it utilises the existing material leaving very little waste as a result.
It’s pretty clear to see that temporary repairs – although quick – are not sustainable, so isn’t it time a cost effective, robust fix was the go-to method?
It is a sad fact that the appalling state of the UK’s roads is now the worst it has ever been.
Whether quiet country lanes, town and city roads and even some of the busiest motorways, our roads are crumbling away and the biggest problem of all is potholes.
Years of neglect and under funding have clearly contributed hugely to this blight on our roads and highways, coupled with the massive increase in traffic and in particular heavy lorries. But a major part of the pothole problem must lie with the lack of forward planning by central and local governments who must surely have been aware that the road infrastructure would need a running programme of maintenance to keep up with traffic development.
Rather than effect proper, long-lasting repairs to potholes councils seem to have mostly gone for short-term repairs which are cheap but serve only to plug the gap – literally – for a few months before the pothole reappears. All it takes for a pothole to reappear is a short period of heavy rain or severe frost and snow.
Part of the problem appears to be that councils can quite easily absolve their responsibilities for any damage done to vehicles, or for injuries sustained, by claiming that they have checked the condition of a road in accordance with their own criteria. There appears to be no government-set standard for a system of road checking and individual councils can set their own schedules. The result is that millions are paid out in compensation every year to road users who fall foul of potholes. Surely the money could be better spent by adequately maintaining roads in the first place.
Councils spend an average £50 on a small pothole repair so they presumably think this is good value for money. This often involves a simple method whereby a man with a shovel pours a small amount of tarmac into the hole and levels it over. Job done. This is then unfortunately prone to breaking up or sinking in again shortly thereafter because water will make its way underneath the repair.
A much better way is to use infrared tarmac repair. This involves heating the damaged area until it becomes soft and workable. An application of rejuvenating emulsion is applied followed by new tarmac to fill in any voids. The area is then compacted down so that a seamless patch is heat-bonded to the surrounding area. It is the thermal bonding process which ensures no water can leak through the repair.
One of the great advantages of using this technology is that the cost of it is comparable to conventional repairs but a repair done in this way will last much, much longer. The infrared process takes an average 20 minutes or less and is a suitably eco-friendly method as it utilises existing tarmac.
It makes no sense for councils to continue to use outdated, expensive and short-term pothole repair methods when the new technology is in place to provide long-lasting, cost-effective repairs.
Planned maintenance is the only way forward, both to protect budgets in the long term and ensure that our roads are kept to high standards that we rightly should expect.
Renoo.co.uk are a national one-stop, pothole repair shop and specialise in providing long-lasting, cost-effective solutions to pothole damage.
Pothole Maintenace - Potholes have become a hot topic for debate in the UK and can be a very emotive subject.
Pothole Damage Claim - As a motorist in the UK, it is very likely that at some point you are going to hit a pothole and that you will suffer damage to your vehicle.
According to a recent study by the AA (Automobile Association), in 2012 a third of all drivers suffered pothole damage to their vehicles with a cost of repairs to tax payers in the region of £700 million every year.
Whilst pothole claims are generally on the increase, there are a few things you need to consider before chasing down the legal route and seeking compensation from your local authority.
Here are our five tips when considering making a claim for pothole damage.