Winter is undeniably the most damaging of the seasons in many ways — the cold temperatures, snow, ice, and freezing rain (depending on location) can damage any parking lot.
Protecting the asphalt is essential if you want your parking lot to stay safe and in the best condition possible, and that goes beyond parking lot snow removal.
Here’s what you need to know.
3 Problems Caused By a Snowy Parking Lot
Winter weather can be as problematic as it is beautiful, especially for roads and parking lots. Snow and ice are the major culprits, with constant freezing and thawing wreaking havoc on asphalt especially.
1. Cracking Asphalt and Potholes
Winter weather can both cause and worsen parking lot cracks and potholes. Once the snow begins to fall, it can cover potholes and cracks, hiding them from view and leaving drivers completely unaware of their presence. The changing temperatures can also lead the asphalt to expand and contract, causing both visible cracks and those under the surface of the lot. Ice and freezing rain can also cause cracks and potholes to expand and deepen, especially with constant vehicle traffic.
As these cracks worsen, water can find its way throughout the lot, exploiting any existing cracks, causing them to expand once it freezes.
2. Fading Parking Lot Markings
Having your parking lot correctly marked is essential to the safety of drivers and pedestrians alike. These marks begin to fade over time, which can make them difficult to see.
Snow can add to the difficulty by covering them completely from view, giving drivers and pedestrians no sense of direction, and potentially reducing your lot’s capacity due to poor parking.
Fading lines can also be exacerbated by the very chemicals used to keep them visible all winter, such as salts and other de-icing materials, as well as sand, plows, and scrapers.
3. Snow Plow Scrapes
Plowing your parking lot is essential for both safety and aesthetics, but heavy metal plows will inevitably cause damage to your lot, especially if there is any existing damage.
These scrapes tend to be superficial and easy to fix, but they still require additional expenses to repair and seal the asphalt.
5 Tips for Keeping Your Parking Lot Safe
Once you determine all the things that can affect your commercial parking lot throughout the winter, you can set out a game plan to either help prevent damage or to make repairs if necessary.
1. Fix Cracks and Potholes Early
Before winter sets in and you find yourself with a snowy parking lot, you need to fill any cracks or potholes, which will help prevent them from getting any worse.
Getting a head start on repairs will also help prevent any particularly bad potholes from being covered with snow, which may result in vehicle damage or a hazard to pedestrians.
2. Fix Lines and Asphalt Markings
Parking lot markings fade throughout the year as they are exposed to sun, rain, foot traffic, and general wear and tear. By the time winter comes along, they are likely mostly faded, and the salts, deicing chemicals, and snow plows can make them even less visible.
While redoing the lines before winter isn’t ideal, make a point of getting them taken care of as soon as the snow melts in the spring.
3. Invest in a Barrel of Sand
While salts and other deicing chemicals may prove more effective at melting snow and ice, they can severely damage your parking lot, leaving stains, worsening cracks, and potentially compromising and asphalt sealants.
Using sand instead will help prevent further damage to your parking lot, while creating traction for vehicles and pedestrians when things get slick.
4. Install a Drainage System
Installing drainage in your parking lot is the ideal way to keep it as clean as possible. Beyond just a manhole or sewer grate, a slot drain system can help carry wastewater and other liquids away from your lot. Just consult a local plumber to ensure everything is up to municipal codes.
The 6,000 Series and 7,000 Series Slot Drains are two ideal options that can withstand the elements, as well as vehicle traffic. These two models come pre-sloped in a highly durable stainless steel build that offers corrosion and temperature resistance, among other features.
Both systems require only a brush and paddle for manual cleaning of solid debris such as leaves and any trash that may slip through the slot. Slot Drain Systems also offers automated cleaning options, such as our Flush-Flo accessory, which allows a water line to be connected to the system.
Other Slot Drain benefits include a sleek, safe, ADA-compliant design that doesn't require a grate, and a Load Class C rating for heavy traffic.
5. Invest in Professional Snow Removal
Salts and chemicals can help with snow and ice, but you still need to invest in actual snow removal. Snow plows or small loaders are the best methods for removing snow in a commercial parking lot, but hiring an experienced company is essential.
Start with online reviews and reach out to your business community for recommendations to ensure that you’re hiring an experienced, professional removal company.
Protect Your Parking Lot from Winter Weather
Taking the proper precautions to ensure your parking lot is prepared for the winter season and safe to use is critical. Damaged, icy asphalt can damage cars, cause accidents, and lead to pedestrians slipping and injuring themselves, which are all liabilities.
Keeping your lot clean and safe will make it all the more inviting throughout the season.
Got drainage questions?
If you’re looking for drainage options for your commercial parking lot, contact one of our drainage experts today to discuss the best options for your lot and your business.