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What Causes Puddles to Form in Parking Lots? Fort Lauderdale, Florida

What Causes Puddles to Form in Parking Lots?

What Causes Puddles to Form in Parking Lots?

a big puddle flooding a parking lot

As kids, we loved splashing in puddles, watching the waves that appeared with endless fascination. Adults don’t find puddles as fun and carefree. At best, they’re annoying; at worst, they conceal hazards.

Puddles in parking lots can signal big problems. They may result from errors in engineering and cover up dangerous conditions, such as potholes. What causes puddles to form in parking lots? How can we fix and avoid them in the first place? The experts at U.S. Pave, commercial asphalt paving and concrete contractors in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, can help make your parking lot puddle-free. 

Importance of Parking Lot Drainage

Turning paving into a lot with spaces for cars, buses, and trucks to park seems a simple enough task. But it’s anything but. Standing puddles can form if the parking lot doesn’t have a sufficient slope to direct water toward a trench or other type of drain, and that’s when the problems begin.

In addition to the annoyances they cause, puddles can create real problems beyond just wet feet. They can cause vehicles to hydroplane and cover up curb cuts, cracks, potholes, or other dangerous conditions.

A perfectly flat parking lot, or even one with slight imperfections, can cause water to collect in spots just like it would in a cereal bowl. As the saying goes, “water finds its level.” Even in parking lots with the proper slope, improperly built drains or pipes can become clogged, and miscalculated grading can allow water to gather. Another problem is that water collection causes the underlying pavement to degrade faster.

Generally, a slope of 1% to 2% should be enough for water to run off to reach drains, catch basins, or underground sewers. Choosing suitable materials can also help reduce runoff. Engineers must spend time carefully designing parking lots to prevent these problems from happening. Our team at U.S. Pave is well equipped to help support your parking lot project.

Role of Surface Material

Depending on its physical properties, the material used in your parking lot can contribute to drainage problems. Here’s an overview of how different surface materials used for parking lots can impact surface pooling:

  • Asphalt: Many contractors use asphalt for parking lots because it’s impervious, meaning that water can’t penetrate it. This requires engineers to build proper sloping and drainage channels so water doesn’t collect and cause flooding in certain areas. One drawback is that asphalt can also crack over time, allowing water to get underneath and cause deterioration.
  • Concrete: Concrete is also an impervious material, and water tends to run off concrete toward the edges. Just like asphalt, however, concrete can also crack and allow water to seep underneath. This makes proper slope and drainage design critical to keep puddles from forming in the parking lot.
  • Pervious concrete/asphalt: Some engineers prefer using concrete or asphalt with gaps or voids that permit water to flow below ground. The advantage of using pervious concrete or asphalt is that it encourages natural drainage. Different forms of concrete or asphalt offer different degrees of permeability, and proper sloping is still vital for drainage.

Porous pavers and gravel are other potential materials for surfacing parking lots. However, those have significantly weaker properties in terms of keeping puddles from forming.

Weather-Related Factors

Sometimes, the best-laid designs for sloping and runoff face conditions beyond their control, such as the impact of extreme weather. Various weather conditions can play a role in puddle formation in parking lots in ways that may not be obvious. 

Heavy rain and melting snow can overwhelm drainage systems and cause puddles to form. Other weather implications include:

  • Wind: The speed and direction of wind gusts can contribute to puddle formation by blowing rain or snow sideways, causing it to collect and gather in areas with improper sloping or unsheltered areas. Problems can multiply if drainage systems start to get overwhelmed.
  • Humidity. The good news about puddles is that water eventually evaporates. But factors such as humidity, where the air is heavy and full of moisture, slows the evaporation rate. As a result, puddles stick around for longer.
  • Air pressure: Similarly, meteorologists will tell you that low-pressure systems play a role in forming major storms. Lower pressure suggests the air is saturated with moisture, which slows evaporation.

Other Factors

In addition to the weather and choice of material, several other factors can contribute to puddle formation in parking lots. These include: 

  • Wear and tear: Parking lots are continuously subjected to wear and tear due to inclement weather and vehicular traffic. Over time, seals can wear away and pavement can crack, causing water to accumulate in parking lots.
  • Overgrown vegetation: Trees, bushes, shrubs, or other vegetation placed in the wrong places can block water or send it to the wrong areas, where puddles can form.
  • Neglectful maintenance: Poor maintenance practices can accelerate wear and tear. Debris or overgrown vegetation can collect and clog drains, causing water to back up on the surface.

Solutions and Preventive Measures

The U.S. Pave team has extensive experience in preventing or minimizing the formation of puddles. As we discussed earlier, your parking lot must have the proper sloping, which in most cases is a 1% to 2% grade, leading water to run off to drainage trenches or onto grassy areas. 

A good regular maintenance program is also central to reducing puddles. This includes cleaning debris regularly from the parking lot, filling cracks and potholes as soon as they develop, and continuous sealing practices. Keeping parking lines striped to identify parking areas is also crucial, as is installing adequate drainage and using more permeable types of surfaces for more accessible natural runoff.

Partner with U.S. Pave for Parking Lot Maintenance and Construction 

The factors involved in controlling puddles in parking lots are varied; poor design, neglectful maintenance, overgrown vegetation, and long-term wear and tear are just a few. If you’re having parking lot drainage issues, it’s time to consult with the professionals. Let the team at U.S. Pave find you a solution. Our innovative team will work with you to find the right solution for your drainage challenges, starting with the design and including asphalt paving and repairWe have locations across Florida as well as in Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Colorado. Call us or contact us online today for a consultation.’

Lake Puddle by Kenneth Lu is licensed with CC BY 2.0

Posted on behalf of US PAVE

U.S. Pave is a full-service paving maintenance and installation company serving all of Florida with Parking Lot Maintenance, New Asphalt Construction, Asphalt Patching and Repair, Parking Lot Crack Repair, Pothole Repair, Parking Lot Resurfacing (Overlay), Parking Lot Sealcoating or Resealing, Concrete Maintenance, Concrete Flatwork, Concrete Car Stops, Flow line / Curb & Gutter, Trip-hazard Removal/Grinding, Parking Lot Striping, Signage, Bollards, ADA Compliance and Upgrades, Catch Basins, Sweeping and Porter Services.

Whether you’re in need of a small repair or a new construction project, U.S. Pave's dedicated team has you covered.

For more information on our services contact us today at (954) 210-7481.

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