What Causes Potholes?

What are Potholes? What are the Causes and Repair Methods?
What causes potholes

Potholes are one of the serious causes of road accidents, especially when vehicles are at high speed on national highways. But what causes potholes? If you like rides, you must have felt how good it feels to drive on a road without any breaks. Just you, smooth road, long drive, and the songs. It is such a pleasant feeling. However, it becomes irritating and dangerous if the road has some potholes or ruptures in between. What causes potholes is one of the main concerns nowadays.

1. What is the Definition of Pothole?

As a driver or even a pedestrian, almost everyone has come across a pothole. Potholes are dip and hollow road pavement formed as a result of expansion and contraction during freeze-thaw water cycles combined with the amount of traffic. In simple words, these are portions of road pavement that have been degraded over time due to the wear and tear of the road because of heavy traffic. It can be a few inches broad or deep, sometimes even several inches depending on the current state of the roadway. (See What Is a Pothole?)

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2. What Causes Potholes?

There are several reasons for what causes potholes such as:

  • Potholes are mainly formed due to the depletion that occurs on roads especially when they become old or are roughly used.
  • Rain is another big reason for a country like India that causes the formation of potholes. Once a crack forms on the road surface, there is a seepage of rainwater into the cracks.
  • During the nights, the temperature fluctuates causing the irregular freezing and expansion of water. This eventually leads to the widening of cracks and weakens surface materials. The cracks become larger as the water inside them melts. During the spring season, this condition gets worse when salt is mixed thus increasing the freezing rate of water.
  • When the vehicles drive on the surface of the road, there comes into existence repeated friction in between the point of contact of tires and the road surface which in turn expands it and later results in cracks.
  • Adding to this, the vehicles going on the road pushes downward the upper surface of the road more and more and their weight becomes the major concern. This happens time and again, which gradually leads to the formation of Potholes. (See What does the Diamond Sign Traffic Mean?)


3. What are the Effects of Potholes?

Potholes have been recorded to enormously affect road users nowadays and even in the past. They are one of the prime reasons for severe motor accidents, minor accidents, injuries and even death resulting in a loss of property, finances, emotional stability, and a lot more. They need to be repaired so that there are fewer damages caused to life and property and to ensure a smoother road travel experience. (See Why Is It Called Jaywalking?)

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4. What are the Pothole Repair Methods?

Reading what causes potholes is not enough as this is a serious problem for everyone and so it is required to start the necessary work as early as possible. There are several pothole repair methods. Some temporary and permanent methods have been listed:

  • Throw and Roll repair– It is a temporary method of repairing a pothole by just placing asphalt patch materials in the pothole and eventually taking the help of a tractor or any other heavy vehicle to ride over the hole in order to suppress and make the filling compact.
  • Throw and Go method– It is an easy and temporary method of repair. Here, the potholes are just filled up randomly with some throw material. The vehicles ride over the holes filled up with material and they become compact with time. This method is used in case there is some emergency to fill up the pothole.
  • Semi-permanent Pothole Repair– This is an effective and clean method of filling the potholes. The patch area must be larger than the vibratory plate in order to follow this method. First, the pothole is emptied entirely by taking out the debris and the water was filled in it then the edges of the pothole are smoothly cut. The patch solution is then filled up in the pothole. Once done, the patch is made compact with the help of a vibratory plate or roller.
  • Spray Injection Hole Repair– This method is somewhat similar to that of the semi-permanent pothole repair, but it needs a special machine. The debris and water collected in the pothole are blown out. Then, the bottom sides of the pothole are sprayed with a coat of binder tack. Having done this, the aggregate and asphalt are blown into the pothole. Finally, the repaired part is covered with one more layer of aggregate.
  • Full Depth Roadway Hole Replacement– This is considered to be the most effective as well as complicated method to repair potholes. Old asphalt is used to rebuild the worn-out asphalt by pulverization of the old asphalt and further mixing it with water and cement. Then it is made compact so as to prepare the base of the concrete surface. It is basically a method that completely removes the pothole and then replaces it with a new roadway.
  • Cold-lay Pothole Repair– In this method, a material named the cold lay material is applied layerwise in the pothole, and each layer is individually compacted. This in turn gives out a new surface that is highly durable. The vehicles, however, would not be allowed to drive immediately after the pothole is filled and repaired.
  • Hot-work Repair– This method is recorded to be genuinely durable as there is the use of machinery in order to continuously heat and compress the pothole material so that the asphalt bond is hardened and solidified properly. (Also read Who Invented Lamborghini?)

So, after knowing what causes potholes, it becomes important to find a solution to it, and the pothole repair methods are also briefly described. You just need to be wise enough to decide which method has to be chosen according to the time limit and situation. Apart from potholes, there are some other reasons for road accidents as well such as not following the traffic signals. (Also read 10 Whirlpool in Lakes Facts)

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