The Minnesota Multi Housing Association (MHA)
is a state-wide nonprofit trade organization. With nearly 2,100 members representing more than 250,000 housing units throughout Minnesota, MHA is the voice of the state's multi housing industry.


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Featured Article

Parking lot repair & maintenance
By Matt Duenwald, P.E., Civil Engineer, MFRA, Inc. (763) 259.6000

Summer is finally here and with the changing season we are also reminded of the long winter which greets us with potholes, pavement heaving, and new cracks in our parking lots. Parking lots are typically designed for a 20 year lifecycle, assuming that maintenance is being completed regularly. Due to the current economic climate, property managers are looking for ways to maximize the value of their existing assets and extend the life of their parking lots. To help keep you on track or if you are just getting started, here are a few options of what to look for and how to address typical pavement repairs. These recommendations will not only improve the performance and increase the useable life of a parking lot, but also the aesthetics of your valuable asset.

Isolated Potholes

Potholes are a type of pavement failure that occurs due to abrupt changes in freeze/thaw cycles. Warm weather allows water to enter into the pavement surface, filling all of the voids. Once the pavement freezes, there is nowhere for water to go, usually resulting in a pothole. The most common way to address this repair is to sawcut around the pothole, repair the aggregate subbase below the pavement if necessary, and patch with approximately 3-1/2 inches of new asphalt. Timely pothole repair will generally add 3-6 years to the pavement life.

Asphalt Overlay

Asphalt overlays provide a cost effective solution when large areas of a parking lot need repair. The existing parking lot is milled about 1-1/2 to 2 inches and a new 1-1/2 to 2 inch lift of asphalt is put in place. Prior to the new asphalt being installed, small defections and cracks are sealed where the pavement has been milled to help extend the pavement life. This helps to slow the reemergence of the cracks. Asphalt overlays can also be constructed without milling the existing pavement by adding 1-1/2 to 2 inches of asphalt on to the existing parking lot. This will allow the cracks to migrate and they will need to be sealed after the second year. A good rule of thumb is for every inch of new asphalt, it takes a year for the crack to migrate back to the surface. An engineer can help you evaluate if the pavement should be milled before placing the new asphalt overlay.

Seal Coating

The primary reason for seal coating is to protect the pavement from sun and water. Seal coating is something that should be completed every 3 to 5 years as part of a maintenance program. Seal coat is used to waterproof the surface to keep out water, sunlight, gasoline, oil, and de-icers, seal small cracks, and reduce oxidation of the pavement surface. Seal coating parking lots also improves the aesthetics of the pavement. A seal coat is a thin layer of asphalt applied to the pavement. Depending on the condition of the pavement, a chip seal may be recommended. Small pieces of aggregate are added to the asphalt and imbedded into the pavement. This provides greater performance than a typical seal coat and also improves the friction of the pavement.

Pavements are designed for a 20 year lifecycle but need to be properly maintained to reach its useful life. Owners should expect to complete minor maintenance in the second year after installation. This would include identifying small cracks, heaving from freeze/thaw, bird baths in pavement, and other areas small areas that could lead to larger concerns. By year 10, the parking lot should be looking at some of the options noted above. If the pavement appears to be in fairly good shape, you can plan on seal coating the parking lot every 2 years and addressing potholes as they arise. As the pavement nears the end of the 20 year lifecycle, asphalt overlays often become a cost effective option in lieu of reconstructing an entire parking lot.

When determining what pavement maintenance is required; a civil engineer can help determine the best options for you and to work within your budget. An often overlooked but critical part is through the contractor bidding process. When soliciting bids from contractors, it’s important to make sure that you are comparing similar bids. To help facilitate this process, a civil engineer can help make contractor recommendations, provide specifications or documents, determine quantities for the contractors to bid, and inspect the work upon completion. Following the completion of work they will verify the work was done correctly and measure the quantities installed before recommending payment.

August 2011, Multi Housing Advocate


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