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How Does Infrared Asphalt Repair Work?

Commuters can attest; few things are more frustrating than a pothole placed precariously in the middle of the street, waiting on repairs for months and months. Technological advances have put infrared asphalt repair at the forefront of paving solutions, which is an extremely efficient and effective method for repairing pavement. Now, those potholes can be paved over in no time.

Infrared asphalt repair, or IRR, is becoming an increasingly popular pavement repair method due to its wide range of applications and benefits. Commercial and municipal entities use the process to make quick fixes to existing pavement structures like parking lots, roads, highways, parking ramps, and more. There are also numerous residential applications that infrared asphalt repair is used for.

What is Infrared Asphalt Repair?

The infrared asphalt repair process is a technique that uses infrared rays to heat existing asphalt into a malleable substance. This allows for newly added asphalt to easily fuse to the pavement that is already in place. Infrared asphalt repair has a wide range of applications in commercial settings and on residential properties. IRR has become increasingly popular in recent years for its ease, affordability, and quality of materials.

Appropriate IRR Applications

Asphalt contractors like Richfield Blacktop utilized IRR for a wide variety of asphalt repair solutions. The process is incredibly efficient compared to previous spot repair methods, making it exceptionally useful for the following applications:

  • Pothole repair
  • Cracking pavement
  • Dips or divots
  • Gouges in blacktop
  • Uneven pavement
  • Bonding speedbumps to streets
  • Maintenance hole transitions
  • Utility repairs
  • Oil spot removal
  • Creating rumble strips
  • Creating seamless transitions between the new and existing pavement

Inappropriate IRR Applications

The process of infrared asphalt repair is only successful when certain conditions are met. Paving professionals avoid IRR applications when the following conditions are present:

  • Areas of standing or pooling water
  • Excessive dirt, mud, or debris
  • Existing asphalt is too thin (2” or less)
  • Failing base or sub-base
  • Completely failed surface
  • Coal tar sealed surfaces
  • Traffic loads exceeding the design thickness

Infrared asphalt repair is useful in a range of applications for commercial and residential paving projects. The process is simple and straightforward when the right conditions are met, resulting in beautiful, long-lasting pavement repairs.

How Does Infrared Asphalt Repair Work?

If you’re considering infrared asphalt repair for your next pavement improvement project, take some time to learn more about the process, to ensure its proper completion. When each step of IRR is adequately implemented, the result is attractive and durable asphalt pavement.

The Infrared Asphalt Repair Process

The infrared asphalt repair process includes the following steps:

  1. Using a broom or blower, remove dirt, debris, and pooling water from the area to prepare for the repair.
  2. Position the infrared panel over the area to be repaired.
  3. Apply heat of 350 degrees for the recommended length of time to the repair area. Small patches may only require 7-10 minutes of heat to soften the pavement, while other larger areas may need up to 25 minutes of heat exposure. Exposure time will depend on the existing asphalt’s depth, the season, and the asphalt mixture used.
  4. Remove the infrared panel.
  5. Rake the heated, softened asphalt and gravel mixture to level. 
  6. Mix in an asphalt rejuvenator and replenish any oxidized oils.
  7. Add a minimal amount of fresh asphalt mixture.
  8. Grade the area using a lute.
  9. Compact and fuse the patch with existing asphalt using a vibratory roller.
  10. Depending on the size, the patched area should be ready for traffic within 20 minutes.

When the listed steps are followed precisely, the result is an asphalt repair with the utmost structural integrity. The IRR process is fast and efficient, making it the perfect solution for pavement issues in cities, towns, and other municipalities. It’s an especially attractive process since the affected pavement can be traveled on within minutes of completion. 

IRR Best Practices

To guarantee the longevity of the repaired asphalt, remember to follow the IRR best practices for successful implementation.

First, you must adequately prepare the surface for the repair. Infrared repair should never begin where there is standing water present. The presence of a little moisture is okay, and the restoration can still move forward without any issues, but the infrared rays are unable to penetrate excessive pooling water.

Additionally, avoid IRR on areas of excessive dirt, mud, and debris build-up. When these elements are present, use a heavy-duty broom to remove the particles to continue with the repair. 

Pay attention to the temperature and season when doing infrared asphalt repairs. While IRR can be conducted year-round, the heat from the process can melt snow or frost around the impacted area, affecting a worker’s ability to compact asphalt patches. Note the current integrity of the sub-base, base, and surface structure. Areas of excessive cracking are unsuitable for IRR and require complete replacement instead.

Benefits of Infrared Asphalt Repair 

In recent years, IRR has become a popular choice for government entities and private businesses throughout America for its numerous benefits.

Asphalt is America’s most recycled material, and the use of IRR lessens the necessity for new asphalt production. Since the process doesn’t require the removal of pre-existing paved structures, there are minimal environmental impacts as fewer raw materials are used.

In addition to using less raw material, the streamlined process requires far less human resources and equipment than alternative paving techniques. IRR only takes a few minutes, making it ideal for road improvements since traffic can resume in about 20 minutes after the completion of the process.

Overall, IRR is a simple and easy way to path up pesky potholes and other troublesome pavement problems that may be present in your road or structure.

Conclusion

When the simple step-by-step IRR process is done the right way, and best practices are put into place, repairs are a straightforward task. More and more businesses in various local and national markets choose the technologically driven repair process for its budget-friendly, durable, and aesthetically-pleasing benefits. Consult with a local paving professional to learn more about how you can utilize the fast, affordable IRR technique in your next pavement improvement project.

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