Potholes and Other Asphalt Woes! Why Do They Happen?

Potholes are an all-too-familiar sight on roads and in commercial parking lots in Philadelphia, much to the chagrin of every driver. There’s nothing worse than going 50 mph over a pothole that you couldn’t see, only to have your tire blow out. But what causes potholes? Are they really that bad? And why are they called potholes, anyway? Let’s start with that last question.

What is a pothole?

A pothole is, as one might expect, a hole in the road that is caused by wear and tear. One common misconception is that the term derived from ancient Rome. The story goes that potters would dig up chunks of clay from the roads to make pots. This is unlikely since Roman roads were made of stone, not clay. The more probable origin of the word is from the United States in the 1800s, when geologists described holes cut into glaciers and rock as kettle holes or potholes. It was first used to describe a hole in the road in the early 1900s when cars were first hitting the roads en masse.

What causes potholes?

Potholes are caused by a combination of two factors: water damage over time and traffic. Because no asphalt seal is perfect or lasts forever, water slowly seeps underneath into the soil, and it becomes weaker. Since cars are likely continually driving on the road, it puts pressure on that already weakened soil, and eventually, boom — you’ve got a pothole. The reason they’re especially prevalent in the winter is that frost heaving expedites this process. When water freezes, it expands; so water underneath the surface that’s constantly freezing and expanding, and then melting again, will weaken road structures at an even faster rate.

What kind of damage can they cause?

Ka-THUNK! It’s that horrible sound you hear after you’ve just run over a pothole. Make sure that you examine the damage as quickly as possible in the event that you need any repairs to your vehicle. If the pothole is particularly deep, or you were traveling too fast, you can cause damage not only to your tires, but also your shocks, suspension, steering, or even engine, depending on how you hit it. These repairs can end up being costly.

Potholes seem like a minor annoyance at first, but they can cause huge headaches. Fortunately, you can count on Associated Paving Contractors, Inc., an experienced group of commercial concrete contractors in Philadelphia, to repair any nasty potholes in your business’s parking lot. (Your customers will thank you.) Call us today at 215-672-8000 for more information.

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