With asphalt covering 94% of roads and highways in the United States, it may seem invincible. In reality, asphalt pavement is vulnerable to weather changes. Without proper maintenance, it may develop cracks and other asphalt issues that eventually turn into potholes.
To ensure the durability and longevity of asphalt pavement, it’s important to know its weaknesses during each season.
Winter Hazards: Low Temperatures and Snow
Winter is the toughest season for asphalt pavements. When temperatures decrease, freezing can occur both below and above the asphalt. This could lead to cracks.
When the snow starts falling, the moisture can seep through the cracks and freeze underneath the pavement. Since the water expands as it freezes, the asphalt cracks further. Eventually, such expansion could result in pothole formation.
Meanwhile, improper de-icing efforts could cause damage and compromise the coating even further.
What can you do?
1. Professional Cleaning
Remove all dirt and debris from your asphalt pavement before winter starts. It can help you discover any asphalt issues like cracks and emerging potholes, which need immediate repair.
Meanwhile, large pieces of debris can freeze and damage the asphalt as the temperatures drop. They can also interfere with snow removal. Getting rid of debris in a timely manner is a vital preventive measure.
2. Repair All Damage in Advance
Repairing your asphalt pavement in the winter is futile. The colder the ground, the faster asphalt loses heat, making it almost impossible to stabilize. All repairs should be done when the ambient temperature is above 50°F. Meanwhile, strong winds could also interfere with the curing process.
However, if you see a pothole forming, it needs immediate attention regardless of the weather. Otherwise, you may have to repave the surface entirely.
A sealcoat is an extra layer that protects the asphalt from weather elements, including water damage. Depending on the wear and tear your asphalt pavement takes, you may need to sealcoat it annually or every two to three years. If the pavement begins to pit, looks patchy or has cracks, it may be time to sealcoat.
4. Remove Snow Regularly
Freestanding water is one of the biggest hazards your asphalt pavement faces. In winter, allowing the snow to sit on the surface is out of the question. Otherwise, it may seep through the small cracks, leading to severe damage. It’s important to remove the snow before it can melt.
While DIY snow removal could be effective, it’s important to remember the dangers of using a plow. It can get caught in small cracks and holes, causing them to become bigger. Professional snow removal services may be required.
5. Be Careful about De-icing
If you’ve recently had your asphalt paved and sealcoated, it’s likely to be in good shape and immune to de-icing. However, if you’ve missed a tiny crack during your pre-winter cleaning, rock salt could do serious damage.
Salt and other de-icing agents lower the freezing point of water, forcing the freeze-thaw cycle to occur throughout the winter instead of just during cold snaps. This cycle involves the water freezing, thus expanding, and thawing, thus contracting. Such fluctuations are highly damaging to the asphalt pavement.
Summer Hazards: Extreme Temperatures
High temperatures can soften the asphalt, forcing it to deform under heavy loads. It can also lead to cracking, sloughing, and pitting. When cracks occur, water seeps through and causes damage. It can erode the subsurface layers and create an air gap under the pavement. Once the pressure is applied on top of such gaps, the pavement can sag and collapse, eventually forming a pothole.
UV rays can also pose a danger to the asphalt pavement. The sun oxidizes the oil in the asphalt, decreasing its ability to keep the components together. Eventually, the surface dries out and cracks.
What can you do?
1. Smart Installation
You can prevent asphalt issues related to extreme temperatures by paying close attention to the installation process. Asphalt paving must be done by professionals. Mistakes made at the paving stage could affect the ability of the asphalt to withstand heat. You can also consider an asphalt mix, which is capable of handling different environmental conditions.
The best weapon against extreme heat is sealcoating. Doing it before the summer can prevent the effects that UV rays and high temperatures have on the asphalt pavement. Meanwhile, you should also follow the winter tips and keep the pavement clean and repaired.
Spring and Fall Hazards: Temperature Fluctuations and Moisture
During fall and spring, the volume of precipitation rises, thus putting your pavement in danger. If it has any cracks, water can get through, causing serious asphalt issues in the future. Each time it rains, water goes underneath the surface and the deterioration rate increases. For some time, the damage may not be visible.
Since temperatures can change from warm to freezing overnight, the freeze-thaw cycles pose a serious threat to the pavement integrity.
What can you do?
Sealcoating can protect your asphalt pavement from pooling and seeping water, thus preventing water-related damage and problems related to freeze-thaw cycles.
Watch your asphalt carefully for areas of pooling water. If you notice them regularly, you may have a drainage problem. Drainage issues should have been dealt with at the installation stage. If they weren’t, you need professional assistance before you face a serious integrity problem.
3. Timely Repair
Spring and fall are often warm enough for asphalt repair tasks. Inspect your pavement regularly to find holes and cracks. Repair them immediately.
Just as in the winter, you have to pay attention to large pieces of debris on the asphalt. Remove them quickly to prevent damage.
Prevent Asphalt Issues and Keep Your Asphalt in Top Shape All Year Round
When it comes to asphalt care, each season brings its hazards. You need to pay close attention to the pavement to prevent damage. Proper installation and maintenance can help you avoid unexpected expenses.
If you want to learn more about asphalt paving and seasonal maintenance, please contact us today. Our experts can help evaluate your asphalt issues and set up repair and maintenance schedules.