Potholes in Asphalt Pavements and Driveway - Causes

A potholes is a disruption created on the asphalt pavement when a portion of the road material has broken away. A pothole is also called as a kettle or a chuckhole in United States.

Potholes in Asphalt Pavements and Driveway - Causes

The causes and repair techniques for pothole disruption are mentioned below.

Causes of Potholes in Asphalt Pavement or Driveway

The main causes of pothole disruption in pavements are:
  1. Fatigue of the Pavement Surface
  2. Water Clogging and Traffic
  3. Insufficient Pavement Thickness
  4. Pavement defects and cracks
  5. Failure of utility trenches
  6. Failure of castings
  7. Insufficient Drainage
One or the other causes mentioned above are directly or indirectly connected to each other. Most of the reasons finally result in water clogging which results in sub grade soil erosion followed by crack and subsidence due to heavy traffic. We will look how these factors contribute to potholes.
As per the US Army Corporation of Engineers, the main two factors that contribute to the formation of potholes are water and traffic. Both the factors present at the same time results in weakening of the pavement area.
The water weakens the soil present beneath the pavement. When traffic is applied at the same time, the load application creates stress that make the pavement to go through its breaking points. Too many weak factors acting together results in the pavement failure.
Such fatigue of the road surface lead to cracks that form in a interlock pattern, called the alligator cracking. The chunks of the pavement present in between the fatigue cracks starts to loosen and they eventually get picked out as pieces of pavement, forming s hole called as potholes.

Features of Potholes

  • The formation of potholes is accelerated by cold temperatures. As water freezes, it expands and the volume increases thus increasing the propagation of the cracks. Potholes develops with the continuous removal of chunks of concrete. 
  • A pothole filled with water further increases the dimension of the hole. These are common in areas with a regular spring season.
  • Potholes develop several feet in terms of width and are a few inches deep. Large potholes can damage tires and vehicle suspension.


Prevention of Potholes

The potholes can be prevented by the following steps:
  1. Regular surveying and inspection of pavement for risk factors
  2. Provide adequate drainage facility for the pavement, including ditching and storm sewers
  3. Preventive maintenance by providing structural integrity by allotting adequate thickness and continuity of pavement mix to avoid water penetration.
  4. Promote water migration away from the roadway

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