Potholes are a driver’s greatest enemy. More than just a bump in the road, they can cause flat tires, bent and damaged rims, A sign on the side of the road that reads suspension and steering damage, and even damage to the body of the car. Potholes develop primarily because of deteriorating pavement conditions and the freeze/thaw nature of the Canadian climate. The roadbase aggregate can lose its free-draining nature over time, and when it does, water gets trapped and expands when it freezes. The repeated freeze-and-thaw cycle causes a failure in the asphalt matrix, and it breaks up. Traffic removes the loose pieces, and you are left with a typical pothole.

Repairing Potholes

Proper repair of your potholes requires selection of a repair method using suitable equipment for the job.

A long-lasting and effective repair method must prevent water from entering the subbase – using a water-repelling asphalt spray ahead of material placement and compaction will go a long way in eliminating the need for repeated repairs in the same spot. Without this, you are destined for repeat repairs in the same spot.

Generally speaking, urban areas will look for a repair method using new or reclaimed asphalt to leave a smooth surface to better blend with the surrounding road surface.

Material to be used for the repair is important. Fresh asphalt plant mix is the preferred option, either directly from an asphalt plant or by reheating with a hotbox/reclaimer. Using a specialized repair mix works as well, but can be expensive in comparison. Traditional cold mix may appear to be a less expensive option, but the need for it to be replaced so frequently with the associated labour costs can often surpass using fresh plant mix.

What to Look for in a Hotbox

Once you have decided that you need a hotbox to efficiently undertake repairs, here are some options and features to keep in mind:

  • Trailer or Slip-In Style: Trailer hotboxes attach to the hitch of your truck, whereas slip-in or truck-mounted hotboxes are designed to be slid into the bed of a truck.
  • Heating Method: Different manufacturers employ different heating methods, using either infrared, propane, or diesel. Diesel is the most efficient in transferring BTU’s to the mix. Is the heating through an open flame-type design, or enclosed through a heat transfer box? Don’t forget to check local or higher regulations with respect to the heating method and certifications needed to operate or maintain it.
  • Heating Your Mix: Are you able to run the unit overnight with a timer so the mix is hot in the morning? Are you able to continue to heat while towing? There’s no point in heating up the patch material in the yard only to have it cool down quickly once you reach the jobsite, so it’s a good idea to look for a hotbox with constant heating capabilities.
  • Ergonomics: For safety and ease of operation, ensure that the tilt hopper and shoveling door will be at the proper height for workers to reach while performing repairs. For example, a hopper access step may be needed if it’s too high to reach.

Need help deciding what equipment will meet your municipal road maintenance requirements? Check out our Asphalt Pavement Maintenance Equipment or get in touch with us.


Amaco is Ontario’s heavy equipment specialist and has helped municipalities, contractors, and owner-operators across the province find the right machine solutions for them. Contact us today to discuss your needs!

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Jeff MacDonald

About Jeff MacDonald

Jeff MacDonald is the President and Owner of Amaco CEI, and has been in the heavy equipment industry in a variety of sales and management roles since 1987. He holds a P.Eng designation, and has a Masters of Applied Science Degree from the University of Toronto.