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Pothole Prevention Guide - a 'stitch in time' ...

Posted by Johan J. Ingles-Le Nobel on 03/05/17 13:10
Pothole Early Warning Signs 

When carrying out regular pro-active checks you can quickly develop an eye for the warning signs of potholes to catch them early. This will help you save on costly reactive action later and vastly extend the life of your tarmac areas.

Make sure to look for:

  • Loose material sitting on top of the surface
  • Deep line cracks opening up
  • Breakdown or wearing away of joints and/or sealing material
  • Crocodile skin appearance to surface
  • Depressions
  • Water pooling
  • Small holes due to missing material

Industry research states that when repairs are made before a full pothole has formed, for every £1 spent to repair and rehabilitate a tarmac surface that is generally in fair condition, £4-5 is saved against a repair that is left to when the surface is in poor or very poor condition.

Why potholes form

Understanding why potholes form helps you appreciate how preventative measures can be more effective. The constant exposure to the elements of ice, rain and direct sunlight all effect the materials that make up our roads, paths and carparks. But it’s water that is the biggest culprit with tarmac:

Rain water - as rainwater runs-off, it can take the top layer of road surface with it but, on a poorly maintained or poorly drained road, track, car park, when water is allowed to sit on the road’s surface and permeate, it accumulates under the road itself and settles into the sub-base. When this water expands and contracts due to temperature change, damage is caused from under the road itself, pushing on the surface and causing deterioration, which left unchecked, results in a large hole in the road. 

Weight of vehicles – roads are not permanent structures and will deteriorate over time from the constant use. Potholes form when the weight the road has to carry becomes too much for it. As well as repeated light traffic, heavy vehicles such as lorries, tractors, forklifts etc. all have the capability to cause indents, which will eventually become potholes.

Poor maintenance – the cost of completely repairing a road can run into thousands of pounds and that’s why the ‘patch, mend and make do’ approach is one that many businesses fall back on. Filling a pothole with gravel; or simply laying a fresh topping of tarmac will not deal with the structural issues that are undermining the strength of the road so that within months, sometimes weeks, potholes carry on appearing across the surface.

Temporary Safety Repairs

Our video shows the process for when you need to ‘make safe’ a hole until a proper repair can be arranged. A temporary repair is better suited to repairing potholes during poor weather conditions as it uses a cold material to fill the hole. The problem is that temporary repairs are exactly that, temporary. 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.

More information


Topics: Pothole Repair, Winter Maintenance

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