Infrared Pavement Technology May Be The Solution
Pavement repair issues such as potholes, utility settlements, trip hazards and water puddling have many communities scratching their heads. These are common problems communities
face as season’s transition from winter to spring. Repairing such problems may be a little easier with patching by way of infrared pavement technology.
The infrared process may be new to many communities, but this technology has been being perfected for over 15 years. Contractors have been offering this process to communities for many reasons. Infrared offers a seamless bond to the surrounding asphalt surfaces, so water will not penetrate the edges and cause premature asphalt failure. This process also can eliminate the need to reconstruct failing areas.
Infrared works on both old and new asphalt surfaces, offering quick and permanent asphalt repairs. In most cases, the area can be re-opened within 15 minutes after completion. Infrared patching also is an effective way to patch in the winter months when asphalt plants are closed down. One of the greatest benefits any contractor can offer a community is a process that saves money. To a community, infrared is cost effective simply because less manpower, equipment, material, debris and working hours equals more savings.
THE WAY IT WORKS:
At the start of the infrared process, most contractors mark out areas using a chalk line or paint. To achieve maximum penetration with the infrared, the work area must be thoroughly cleaned of all loose asphalt, dirt, and other debris prior to work being started. The infrared unit will be positioned one foot beyond the work area to assure the unique seamless bond that infrared offers. The heat time from the start to finish can range anywhere from 10-15 minutes per heating application. For example, an area 40’ long and using heating intervals of approximately 15 minutes would take approximately two hours to complete. When the asphalt surface has been reheated to a workable temperature, the area will be raked (scarified) following a straight line and the asphalt will either be removed or added as needed. The area will then be finish raked and checked with a six foot level to assure water is running properly. After the area is swept clean of debris outside of the work area, the patch will be compacted to a smooth finish.
Infrared patching is like a huge heater. The heater is called the chamber and is either truck mounted or trailer mounted. The chamber is heated by propane, which is dispersed by blowers to create radiant heat. Radiant heat penetrates asphalt without burning the oils from the existing pavement surface. The heat chamber is 6’ x 8’ with the option of using half the chamber if needed 4’x6’. The infrared unit is equipped with a two to four ton hot box to either keep new material hot or reclaim old material if needed. Most units have a waste bin to dispose of all debris accumulated from that days work.
The contractor will also use either a roller or compactor to achieve compaction and smooth finish. Typically the infrared process can complete an average anywhere between 800 – 1500 square feet of patching per day. Most contractors charge a daily rate or by the square foot. Temperature and age of the asphalt play an important role in production. The production in the summer, on new asphalt, will be greater than the winter months.
REPAIRS TO ELIMINATE LIABILITY:
Street hazards can cause injuries. Repairs eliminate potential risks. Infrared makes such repairs easier and more complete, helping to reduce liabilities. Infrared patching can and should be used on many roadways and parking lot problems. This process is an effective way to install speed bumps. Speed bumps take a beating from snow plows during the winter months, but with the infrared process, the new seamless bump leaves no edge for plows or machines to catch. Trip hazards on sidewalks and building entrances can also be addressed using the infrared patching process. Utility settlements can be fixed and leveled to the proper grade using this process.
Water puddling is also a problem, especially during the winter months when ice is present. Water issues are more time consuming than the run-of-the mill pothole. To properly fix a water problem, the contractor must use a grade laser to check the existing grades. This is to assure the contractor can achieve positive water runoff.
Although this process has many benefits, it also has limitations. Infrared is not a cure-all to reconstruction patching. Infrared is not recommended on wide-spread cracking (alligator cracking) or wide cracks. Failed areas in roadways and parking lots originate in the sub base, and the infrared process effectively penetrates two to three inches of the asphalt surface. Conventional patching would be suggested where infrared cannot be used. This conventional (reconstructive) patching consists of removing failed areas to sub base, compacting the sub base, installing at least four inches of base course and two inches of top course.
Infrared pavement technology is a great way to tackle most pavement maintenance issues permanently and cost effectively. When comparing infrared patching to other methods, it is significantly lower in cost. It saves the cost of a temporary patch because it can be done in any temperature.