With all the contradicting and confusing (mis)information out there about the infrared repair method and equipment, we have dedicated this page to revealing the truth by answering some common questions we get.
1) What is Infrared?
"Infrared" is a specific wavelength or ray of light. It is invisible to the eye, but results in heat when absorbed by objects.
2) Why heat asphalt?
When you heat asphalt, you bring it back to a workable consistency just like the day it was first paved. This means you can make repairs instead of replacing it altogether.
3) How does Infrared heat asphalt?
Infrared rays heat material by penetrating the surface and heating from within, similar to the way a microwave heats food. Infrared rays will not heat more than one layer at a time but will instead heat the entire first layer evenly.
4) Will all of the surface under the heating chamber be heated?
Yes. Our converter system has reflectors that direct and distribute the infrared rays evenly over the entire area under the chamber. This eliminates any "cold spots" of unheated material. We have accomplished this for the last 25+ years with just six rows of converters due to our reflector setup and high frequency of infrared rays.
5) Why is Infrared Repair better than cutting and replacing the asphalt?
Cutting and replacing asphalt gives you a new surface but it doesn't keep the edges from raveling. The only way to get edges that won't fall apart is by heating the surface to make a thermal bond between the repair spot and the surrounding asphalt. This means no water or dirt will be able to enter the crevices around the repair area that you would find on a cut and repair job.
6) Is an Infrared Repair permanent?
Yes. When you create a thermal bond and compact it properly, you will end up with a permanent repair patch.
7) How long will it take to perform one repair?
Typically, it will take 20 minutes to heat, rake, lute and compact one complete area. With our equipment, it will take 6-8 minutes to heat and then you need to rake, bring in some new material, lute and compact it.
8) How is an Infrared Repair performed?
We have a detailed step-by-step walkthrough of a typical repair on the "How-To" page on our main menu.
9) Why do heating times matter?
One, the longer the asphalt is heated, the higher the chance of oxidation or (with some heaters) burning. Two, faster heats mean more heats and repairs per day.
10) Should there be any flames?
No. You should never see flames when using a true infrared heater correctly. The only time you may see a flame is when sealants or crack fillers catch on fire. If you see this, move the heater and rake the burning material away, you don't want it in your patch anyway.
11) Will Infrared burn the asphalt?
No. True infrared heaters work by heating from the inside out of a material instead of using direct heat. The only time you can burn asphalt with true infrared heat is if you leave it on for an unnecessarily long time. However, there are some other heaters out there that rely on flames and direct heat that can burn asphalt and give infrared a bad name. Be careful to study the product to ensure it does create true infrared rays.
12) Should I use a rejuvenator?
The use of a rejuvenator is up to you. In our experience, we have not seen the need for rejuvenator use, but that doesn't mean there can't be situations where it should be used or times when it is required by the government or contracts. This is something that needs to be left up to the operator's discretion.
13) Do all Infrared Asphalt Heaters work the same way?
No, definitely not! The big difference is the heat source. Our equipment heats with the highest frequency, true infrared rays due to our unique converter design. We produce an unmatched average of 1,875ºF temperatures without flames (400ºF+ hotter than our nearest competitor). Some other heaters produce infrared rays of lesser frequency which does result in heating, but at lower speed and without being evenly distributed. There are also others that rely on blue flame heat which may also result in heating but at drastically slower speeds.
14) What is the difference between Infrared and Blue Flame?
Infrared heats the object while blue flame heats the air. Think about standing in the sunlight. The sun's rays will warm you even on a cold day. That is similar to how infrared works. Now picture being in your house on a cold day. Your furnace works to heat the air in your rooms which eventually warms you up. That is a good analogy for blue flame heat. They both heat the object, but in different ways and thus at much different speeds.
15) What is the difference between a hot box and a reclaimer?
A reclaimer is a hotbox that holds new asphalt at a workable temperature but can also heat up cold, used asphalt. This lets you choose between getting new material from the plant or using a stockpile of used material.
If you have any more questions about the Infrared Asphalt Repair Process, please don't hesitate to call or email us!