Causes of Parking Lot Puddles and How to Fix It

Improved Drainage

Here in Connecticut we’ve had our fair share of rainy springs and melted snow pooling in the roads, but spotting puddles (also known as standing water) in your parking lot can be an indicator of potential structural issues.

Having puddles in your parking lot can be the result of many different problems. It could be a problem with your sub-base or your drainage system. The most common problem for puddles comes from rutting, depressions and in some cases, raveling.

What can you do in this situation to extend the lifespan of your property? How can you make it more sustainable? To assist you with your current predicament, we’ve put together this helpful guide on how to identify the causes of parking lot puddles and what your options are at this point.


What is Rutting?

Rutting is a depression in any asphalt surface, characterized by deformed or indented pavement. There are two types of rutting:

  • Mix Rutting. This is typically caused by poor compaction during the installation process, and does not involve any issues with the subgrade.
  • Subgrade Rutting. This is characterized by depressions created in the subgrade, as well as the surface of the asphalt. The pavement collapses into the subgrade depressions with repeated heavy traffic, and ultimately creates a depression in the wheel path.

Normally, these indentations in your parking lot will collect rain water as well as any excess run-off. Unfortunately, this causes your parking lot to improperly drain, seeing that asphalt is not as porous as concrete.

In the case of parking lots, you usually won’t see any subgrade rutting. It’s more of a common issue with highways, or long stretches of road. However, if you notice significant indentations in your parking lot, you may have an issue in the subgrade and should consult a professional.

What Causes Rutting?

Imagine a standard pillow-top mattress. Usually, after a good night’s sleep, you’ll notice an indentation in your mattress. Believe it or not, your parking lot is similar to your mattress. Asphalt is a flexible pavement material, and every time a car parks outside your business, the asphalt will flex slightly to accommodate the weight of the car.

Say, for example, your employee has a designated spot in the lot. Each time they pull their car into the spot, the asphalt will accommodate the weight of their tires for hours at a time. Similar to your mattress, the asphalt will indent over time and deform, creating tire-size spots for water to collect when it rains.

The grade depression and indentation from parking is likely due to a poor compaction of the asphalt when your parking lot was installed. They can also be caused by poor pavement structure (subgrade) or improper mix design (high asphalt content, insufficient angular aggregate particles, etc.).

How Can I Repair it?

Minor rutting can be easily addressed with infrared treatments, followed by a sealcoat application. A rut measuring less than ⅓ inch deep will generally not require any repairs.

For more moderate and severe cases of rutting, we advise the rut be investigated fully to determine the cause. With the cause in mind, the repair of the rut could involve leveling, refilling, and overlayment.


What is Raveling?

Raveling is the disintegration of the asphalt surface, due to aggregate particles dislodging. Typically, this is characterized by loose debris on the pavement, water collection, hydroplaning, or loss of skid resistance.

What Causes Raveling?

The most common cause of raveling is due to a loss of a bond between aggregate particles and asphalt binder in your parking lot. Once again, this is most likely caused by poor mix design before installation or poor compaction during installation. Studded tires, snow plow blades, or tracked vehicles can also cause raveling by dislodging the particles.

How Can I Repair it?

For smaller areas of raveling, the raveled pavement will be removed and patched. For larger areas that have failed to be well-compressed, the pavement will need to be removed and overlaid.

Poor Drainage

When your parking lot is installed, your paver should be sure there is adequate drainage through the slope, grade, and drains. Puddles forming on the surface of your parking lot can be a good indicator your paver failed to account for drainage.

How Can I Repair It?

This particular problem would likely require a repaving of your parking lot. Subgrade structure and asphalt without proper drains installed are unable to be restructured, so we recommend repaving with the possibility of adding a new drainage system in mind.

Keep Your Parking Lot Dry

Still not sure what’s got your parking lot covered in puddles? Reach out to the professionals at Greenway Industries! From small cracks collecting water to large ruts forming a river in your lot, we’re your go-to, green asphalt paving company.

Ready to get started? Give us a call today for a free estimate of your parking lot repair job, at 203-885-1037.