Tips to Solve Micro Surfacing Messes
Any preservation, maintenance, or new construction project can end up with tack or sealer on a residential landscaped area or a commercial lot’s curb and gutter if the crew isn’t careful. Of course, it takes more than telling all crewmembers to be careful to keep projects clean and pristine. Best practices apply. If your problem centers around the preservation crew getting callbacks to clean gutters, curbs, landscaping, edging, etc., then you can take a page from the Transportation Research Board (TRB) seminar on Building Better Micro Surfacing and Slurry Seals, held April 24, 2019, with members of the National Center for Pavement Preservation (NCPP). Specifically, Tim Harrawood of Vance Brothers spoke of some best practices that can prevent micro surfacing, or other sealing, problems your crew might experience.
While your crew may only experience one or two of these problems at a time, each can result in a callback from a property owner or city inspector. That’s extra time, equipment mobilization, material use and man hours you probably didn’t work into the original estimate that comes out of the project’s bottom line.
- Liquid material such as slurry sealant, tack emulsion or the mix used in micro surfacing drips—or even spills—between nurse trucks or other storage tanks and the equipment working on the project, resulting in splotches or messes on nearby drives or grassy areas.
- Liquid material such as slurry sealant, tack emulsion or the mix used in micro surfacing gets on the utility caps, drains or other features that are to remain unpaved or unsealed.
- Liquid material such as slurry sealant, tack emulsion or the mix used in micro surfacing gets on the gutter panel alongside the lane to be preserved/maintained.
Training is a big factor in preventing callbacks, of course. For paving back-to-basics, our staff worked with Paving Consultant John Ball of Top Quality Paving & Training, Manchester, New Hampshire, to develop an online course that helps new crew members get up to speed on what’s expected of them, how to perform simple tasks, and how to be a productive part of the team. You can also prevent callbacks by sweating the details at the beginning of the project.
- Plan ahead and stage equipment for the project to prevent leaving any drips or splotches behind. For example, if you will need to have a 1,000-gallon tank of sealcoat material on the project site to supply a 250-gallon sealcoat tank with wand, make sure you position the feed tank on the final area to be sealed. Any drips during transfer of material can be covered on the way out. If this setup isn’t an option, plan ahead and stage equipment so it’s on heavy duty tarps that can catch any drips to prevent marring nearby areas.
- Before beginning work, place heavy paper or 30-pound roofing felt (depending on the type of preservation work you’ll be doing) over manhole covers and such utility caps. Put this felt over drains and any other features that should remain clean and unsealed. After the micro surface paver has passed the area, lift the felt to reveal a clean drain, utility cover, etc., with straight, gorgeous lines.
- During work, keep gutter panels clean by operating the spreader box correctly. Watch the material/mix consistency and you’ll have a good chance of cutting a straight line along the gutter. If the mix is more fluid than you anticipated, you’ll want to set the box over a bit. Stay off the gutter about 2 inches and see if that gives you enough material to work over to the edge with your hand tool.
Both photos courtesy Bergkamp Inc., Salina, Kansas.