The Role of Drainage in Preventing Asphalt Damage & Potholes

Blog Home | by on April 22, 2024 in News

Asphalt is mainly a mixture of a crude oil substance and aggregates like sand, gravel, or stone. It is often confused with pavement, but the two are different. Pavement is a commonly used term for concrete paving. Asphalt is a specific material widely used in the paving process, but it can involve various materials and techniques beyond just asphalt. However, maintaining the integrity of asphalt includes the knowledge of how drainage plays a significant part in its lasting durability. 

Understanding Asphalt Damage

Asphalt damage is the breakdown of the structural components that keep the material whole, smooth, and sturdy. Over time, outdoor elements and usage are the most significant factors that cause damage to the pavement. Fatigue in the integrity shows up in asphalt as cracking, bleeding, raveling, and, most notably, the dreaded pothole. Think of asphalt as you think of your skin. Both are sensitive to their environment and have pores that can absorb whatever is on their surface.

What are the main causes of asphalt damage?

  • Water Damage– Water sitting on top of asphalt can leak into the material’s pores and cause significant damage to its foundation layers. During winter months, when water from precipitation freezes and thaws, this causes the asphalt to expand, weakening its structure and causing cracks, potholes, and other fragments in the surface.
  • Traffic– Busy areas, by default, encounter heavier vehicles that deteriorate the asphalt more frequently due to fatigue.
  • Oxidation– The longer the pavement is exposed to sun and air, the drier and more brittle the asphalt becomes over time.
  • Exposure to Chemicals– Asphalt roads are vulnerable to common chemicals emitted from cars. Chemicals like gas, motor oil, grease, battery acids, and even de-icing materials all threaten the pavement.
  • Construction Mishaps– Mistakes during the construction of the material can affect the asphalt’s integrity. Inadequate mixing of materials, improper base grading and stabilization, failure to meet thickness requirements, and compaction issues can all cause premature aging of the asphalt. This is why it is crucial to work with a company that is knowledgeable and experienced in the concrete and asphalt industry.

What are Potholes?

Potholes are divots and depressions in the pavement surface. Potholes often start as minor cracks, but if left unattended, these fissures erode into larger crater-like holes. As potholes form, it becomes more dangerous for drivers on the road and pedestrians in your parking lot to move about safely, which can pose a threat to your business.

Importance of Drainage

As we now know, water is a significant factor in the lifespan of asphalt pavement. Allowing water to sit on the surface will only harm the pavement’s long-term stability. This is why proper drainage is critical to keeping your investment sound for as long as possible. Drainage is ultimately the re-direction of water to prevent cracks, potholes, and bleeding from forming and minimizing your risk and cost to fix said problems. The less contact with water, the less maintenance and correction your business will face as the seasons change.

Benefits of Proper Drainage

To prevent water accumulation on your business’ asphalt, you must protect your investment. Let’s explore the various benefits that come with implementing and maintaining adequate drainage solutions for asphalt surfaces.

Preventing Damage

Preventing water damage is the #1 thing you can do to extend the lifespan of asphalt paving. Reducing the amount of water asphalt holds will ultimately avoid significant pavement erosion.

Structural Integrity

Keeping the stability of your asphalt surface intact and strong for as long as possible is every business owner’s intent. With appropriate drainage mechanisms, it can survive more than 20 years longer than asphalt without water re-direction.


As a business owner, you are responsible for your patron’s safety indoors and outdoors. Keeping your parking lot and sidewalks free and clear of uneven texture on the asphalt paving and sitting water, you’ll be less likely to have accidents on site. Proper drainage also helps avoid the risk of accidents like hydroplaning happening on the roads and parking lots.


Draining water properly is the most cost-effective way for businesses to protect themselves from asphalt damage. Regular maintenance is far more manageable and cost-effective than waiting for asphalt paving to deteriorate to the point of needing complete renovation. By staying on top of maintenance tasks, we can ensure the paving remains safe and performs at its best for a more extended period, ultimately saving time and money in the long run.

Components of Proper Drainage

Having drainage directed away from asphalt is essential to keep the surface and sub-layers healthy. Standard solutions include surface drainage, drainage beneath the surface, or a combination of the two.

Surface Drainage

Surface drainage consists of drainage the average person is familiar with, like gutters, curbs, and stormwater drains. These collect water from the ground and help guide it to a more appropriate location.

Sub-Surface Drainage

Sub-surface drainage is a way to prevent water from absorbing into the base layers of the pavement, causing irreversible damage to its foundation. This type of drainage consists of French drains and perforated pipe drains. Additionally, you could include aggregate layers, like gravel, to help absorb excess water from the lower levels.

Slope and Grading

Slope and grading are other methods of directing water into less fragile areas than asphalt paving. These techniques reshape the land around the affected areas and allow nature to help rather than add whole drainage systems.

Drainage Maintenance

Below are a few ways to help maintain your asphalt pavement, keeping it smooth, safe, and intact.

  • Keeping it clean- Maintaining a debris-free pavement ensures that water flows freely as the drainage systems intend. Debris, like brush, trash, or random junk, can also hide water that may be secretly absorbed into the pavement.
  • Inspections– Regular pavement and drainage systems inspection can help detect issues before they prevent them from working effectively.
  • Repair- If problems are found during an inspection, it’s best to fix them immediately. Again, this ensures your systems are working with you and not against you.

Tolliver & Curl Paving Solutions

Family owned paving contractors in Columbus, Ohio

Tolliver & Curl Paving has been in business since the 1950s, so you can trust we know our stuff! We offer a wide variety of services, but our goal is to exceed our customer’s expectations regarding our community’s commercial asphalt and concrete needs.

We specialize in all things asphalt: paving, repair, and resurfacing, as well as seal coating and pothole repair. These asphalt services are typically done on roads and parking lots, but we’re happy to consult on any commercial projects you may have. If you’re in the market for a refresh of your parking lot striping or maintenance, we’ve got you covered!

We also provide commercial concrete and asphalt services, including foundations for apartment buildings, parking lots, ramps, curbs, and more. Furthermore, we offer repair and rebuilding services for concrete catch basins. After all, you should now understand how important it is to keep those drainage systems working properly!