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24 May 2019
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The economics of road surface maintenance have left roads and car parks crumbling, but Jason Petsch says infrared repair technology is making small permanent repairs cheaper, simpler and more convenient.

Potholes can be repaired using infrared technology ©iStock

04 June 2018 | Jason Petsch

The risks of injury claims should be the most pressing concern for property owners and FMs in making sure that privately owned car parks and roads are well maintained. 

But beyond personal claims, poorly maintained car parks and roads can also detract from a property’s value and kerb appeal.  

How do potholes form? 

When water penetrates a road surface through tiny cracks and freezes, it expands and pushes out a cavity beneath the surface. As the ice thaws, the cavity caves in to create a hole. 

Filling a pothole with gravel or just laying a fresh topping of tarmac will not solve the structural issues undermining the strength of the road; within weeks, holes will reappear. 

Small repairs can also be disruptive, particularly in high-traffic areas. For example, to carry out repairs to a single pothole in a car park requires a large amount of working space to cut out and repair the damaged area. And it is several hours before the surface is ready for use. 

Another challenge is the high cost of carrying out smaller incremental repairs – tarmac is generally sold in tonne batches. As a result, small pothole repairs are often fitted in by contractors after a larger job to use up remaining materials. 

Using less fresh tarmac also results in poorer repairs. The more professional contractors in the industry are focused on roads and highways and there are few services well suited to commercial properties (even though these landlords account for millions of square feet of highly trafficked hardstanding tarmac areas).

How infrared repairs work

1. The existing surface is heated without needing to dispose of old tarmac waste. 

2. A compact heater is placed over a crack or pothole that uses infrared waves to penetrate the surface and raise the temperature of the tarmac to a workable temperature. 

3. Additional tarmac is added, but only a small amount is needed and this is brought on site in hot boxes so there’s no waste involved. 

4. The entire area is also reconditioned with rejuvenating chemicals. 

5. It is compacted and sealed for a permanent seamless repair, which is fused with the existing material in an ‘as new’ surface that has no cold joints and no points of weakness. 

Infrared repairs make smaller repairs easier  

Waiting longer to replace a larger area can seem pragmatic, especially when resurfacing the entire section of road or a car park is a better way to prevent recurring potholes. 

But in the meantime, the liabilities arising from personal injury and vehicle damage remain unaddressed. Due to the lack of effective solutions for smaller scale repairs, many property owners and FMs have clung to a “fix rather than maintain” mindset. 

Infrared repairs are starting to make a real difference as the technology enables a cost-effective service that makes smaller, ongoing repairs more viable.

Benefits of infrared repairs

 It requires half the manpower and half the weight of equipment and vehicles compared with conventional repair methods.

 90 per cent lower carbon footprint.

 Less disruptive, as only a small area around the repair needs to be cordoned off. 

 Time to complete a pothole repair is under an hour and the surface can be back in use within 20 minutes afterwards.

As pothole repairs become a more customer-friendly service, property managers don’t have to wait for enough potholes to justify the hassle of small works orders and the inconvenience to the business while repairs are carried out. A modest budget will need to be allocated to continuing repairs but, when set against the likely costs of major resurfacing work or injury claims, this isn’t a tough argument to make. 

Jason Petsch is CEO at pothole and tarmac repair specialist RENOO