For contractors looking to offer additional services, the available options can be intimidating. Whether you are a striping contractor or a sealcoating contractor, it might be tough to decide what service is an affordable startup and with a great market potential. Cracksealing is one option available to contractors searching for another valuable service to offer their existing clients.
Adding cracksealing services can be a relatively low-cost venture that can generate added revenue while helping clients extend pavement life.
Why Cracksealing Protects Pavement
There are several reasons why cracksealing is essential in maintaining the quality of a pavement. Sealing cracks with the appropriate material will help preserve the base and subgrade. “By sealing the cracks and keeping out moisture, you will prevent potholes and subgrade issues,” says Jason Stepp, Stepp Manufacturing national sales manager. “Cracksealing is about keeping the water and moisture out of the subgrade and from underneath the pavement. Water, snow, ice and rain accumulate inside the crack. The moisture in there freezes and then the water thaws, but the frozen ground can’t absorb the water. At night, this water freezes creating potholes.”
Warm weather is also detrimental to cracked pavement as subgrade issues arise. “In summer water washes out the subgrade underneath the pavement,” Stepp says. “Now the pavement has nothing to support it, and you get recessed cracking. When the traffic rides over this surface it opens the potholes.”
According to Tom Pfuelb, eastern regional sales manager of Crafco Inc., cracksealing is the most effective maintenance service. “Cracksealing is one of the most effective preventative maintenance operations anyone can perform on their pavement to extend its life,” he says.
Equipment that Gets the Job Done
Before purchasing cracksealing equipment contractors must make several key decisions. First, know the type of work they want to pursue: driveways, parking lots, or roads. Next, base a budget set on the type of work they will complete. “Contractors must look at the cost of a unit, what they are getting, and the safety features of the equipment,” says Cliff Cameron, director of sales at KM International.
Purchasing the appropriate size of equipment is essential for contractors to find success. Contractors want to avoid purchasing a unit that is too small or too big for their services. “If someone is just starting out I tend to put them in a little bigger kettle than they may need right now,” Stepp says. “Cracksealing is one of those services that when you start doing it, it is a big growth area for business.”
The startup time and recovery time is also essential when purchasing equipment. “We are able to get hotter quicker and recover faster,” says Craig Walter, sales manager at SealMaster. “Nothing costs you more than standing on the side of a road or on a big parking lot waiting to melt material down.”
Contractors will also have to choose between a diesel engine and a propane powered unit. Stepp suggests that propane might be a better option for contractors who do only a few projects a year while a diesel engine would be more efficient to those using the equipment frequently.
Another feature contractors will consider is an oil-jacketed kettle vs. a direct-fire unit. An oil-jacketed kettle features a tank filled with oil, the oil heating the material through indirect heat. Stepp Manufacturing makes several oil-jacketed units. “You have constant agitation and a smooth, even heating system. You also need to have some type of temperature monitoring controls so you don’t over or under heat the material,” Stepp says.
KM International manufactures an “air jacketed” self-contained 55-gallon unit with a thermostatically controlled pipe burner system. It is much like an oil-jacketed unit without the oil and works on convection/conduction principals controlled thermostatically.