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Paver patching water damage in a parking lot.

Protecting Your Asphalt Parking Lot: Preventing Water Damage

September 14, 2023

Water can be incredibly damaging to asphalt parking lots, especially in the sunny climate of Southern California. Prolonged exposure to water leads to the destabilization of the pavement's foundation and the development of hazardous cracks and potholes across the surface. Preventing and mitigating water damage is essential for maintaining safe, functional parking lots. Victory Paving, with over 25 years of experience managing parking lots, provides expert solutions for assessing and repairing water-related asphalt degradation. By understanding the risks and working with knowledgeable professionals like Victory Paving, you can keep your parking lot looking its best and serve your needs safely for years.

Understanding the Impact of Water on Asphalt Pavement

Water can be incredibly detrimental to asphalt pavement, especially in areas like Southern California that experience cycles of intense heat and sunlight. When water penetrates the surface of asphalt, it causes the binding agents that hold the aggregate together to strip away. This leads to raveling, where the pavement begins to disintegrate.

Additionally, water impacts the foundation beneath the asphalt. Modern pavements are layered systems, with the surface asphalt bound to underlying base materials like stone or concrete. When water infiltrates these layers, it causes the foundation to shift and destabilize. This leads to major structural issues like sinkholes, depressions, and buckling.

Another significant impact water has on asphalt is through freeze-thaw cycles. In colder climates, water seeps into the pavement and expands as it freezes. This exerts pressure on the surrounding pavement and causes cracks and potholes to form. Although freezing temperatures are rare in Southern California, freeze-thaw damage can occur in mountainous regions of the state. And even without fully freezing, repeated cycling between cool nights and hot days strains asphalt as the water contracts and expands.

So while asphalt is designed to withstand water, it remains one of the primary threats to pavement condition over time. Understanding the science behind water damage can help parking lot owners be proactive against this pervasive issue. Catching and preventing water's impacts through appropriate maintenance and repair is key to extending the lifespan of asphalt parking surfaces.

Common Causes of Water Damage in Parking Lots

There are several common ways that water can infiltrate asphalt parking lots and cause deterioration:

Poor Drainage

 Ineffective drainage is one of the primary contributors to water damage. When water cannot properly drain from a parking lot surface, it pools and eventually penetrates the asphalt. Clogged drains or lack of adequate slope and drainage infrastructure lead to standing water that accelerates oxidation and foundation damage.

Cracks and Potholes

 Existing cracks and holes in the pavement provide ready entry points for water. As water seeps in, it expands these defects. This lets in even more water and creates a feedback loop of worsening pavement conditions.

Inadequate Slope

Parking lots should have sufficient slope so that gravity moves water off of the surface. A lack of slope causes water to accumulate in depressions and puddles. Proper construction and grading ensure adequate downhill slope for drainage.

The Damaging Effects of Water on Parking Lots

When water is allowed to infiltrate asphalt parking lots, it can lead to a number of damaging effects:

Compromised Foundation

 Saturation of the base and subgrade layers leads to destabilization. The ground beneath the asphalt can shift or sink, causing depressions, potholes, and buckling cracks on the surface. Poor foundation support can also lead to premature failure under loading.

Surface Damage

The most visible result of water damage is surface defects like raveling, potholes, and longitudinal and alligator cracking. These create hazardous driving conditions in a parking lot while allowing further water infiltration. Reflective cracking also occurs when movement in the weakened base layers shows through to the surface.

Strategies to Prevent Water Damage in Parking Lots

Parking lot owners and managers can employ several strategies to prevent or mitigate water damage:

Regular Maintenance and Inspections

Conducting thorough inspections and timely repairs prevents small issues from becoming major failures. Cracks should be promptly sealed. Additionally, any potholes should have a permanent asphalt patching solution applied to them.

Improved Drainage Systems

Investing in drainage infrastructure like trench drains, catch basins, and French drains diverts water away from permeable lot surfaces. This keeps water from penetrating the asphalt.


 Routine parking lot sealcoating provides a protective barrier against water and oxidation. High-quality sealers filled with polymers and aggregates can extend the life of pavement significantly.

Proper Construction and Installation

 Starting with a stable base and quality asphalt mix ensures water resistance. Adequate compaction, thickness, grading, and slope are key in the initial build.

With diligent preventative maintenance and high-quality construction, parking lot owners can keep water where it belongs--off the asphalt--and maximize their pavement investment.

Victory Paving: Your Ally Against Water Damage

With over 25 years of experience assessing, repairing, and managing parking lots, Victory Paving is Southern California's premier paving company. Our qualified team applies proven methods to diagnose and prevent water damage.

Victory Paving can help you:

- Evaluate drainage issues and design improved drainage solutions

- Detect water damage early before major repairs are needed 

- Repair damaged areas using high-quality, water-resistant asphalt

- Apply professional protective sealcoating to your lot

- Re-slope surfaces to improve drainage

- Perform routine inspections and maintenance to prevent deterioration

- Construct new parking lots built to divert and resist water

We understand the specific challenges parking facilities face from water and sun exposure in Southern California. Our customized maintenance programs keep your pavement looking great and functioning safely at the lowest long-term cost. Contact us today for a professional assessment or quote on protecting your asphalt from the elements.

With Victory Paving as your partner, you can feel confident that your investment is protected against one of asphalt's biggest threats. We have the expertise to tackle any parking lot water damage issues and keep your pavement damage-free for years.