How the Weather Affects Asphalt

Whether it’s fair or not, asphalt is more widely known for its durability. Being a hard concrete-like surface, able to withstand tons of weight, pressure, and various elements of weathering throughout the seasons. Although in-part these descriptions ring true, the durability (or lack thereof) of asphalt is greatly affected by and dependent upon the weather conditions. Regardless of hot or frigid temperatures, the weather plays an integral role on the conditions of asphalt. Listed below are several examples of how weather affects asphalt.

In the winter months, when temperatures drop considerably, asphalt can damage much quicker than anticipated, due to constant freezing and thawing. Colder temperatures that allow freezing rain, snow and ice cause asphalt to expand, which leads to cracking. Once the asphalt begins to crack, the consistency of the asphalt is forever changed and will erode much faster than usual.

In the summer months, heat can create cracks in asphalt too. Maybe not as destructive as in the winter, but rain mixed with heat can greatly diminish the sub-surface layers, resulting in air gapping formations in the pavement. Air gaps within the pavement are the root cause of potholes.

Another factor to consider with the weathering conditions of asphalt is the shifts in temperature. Have you ever experienced a snow day, then the very next day experience an unseasonably warm day where all the snow melts? From hot to cold and vice versa, vast temperature shifts can cause expansion or contraction in the pavement. Generally, most asphalt pavements aren’t built to combat every weather condition, which means that when the temperature rises, asphalt expands; when temperatures drop, asphalt contracts. Significant temperature increases can cause slab buckling in the pavements, while drastic drops in temperatures can bring about transverse cracks within the asphalt.

In order to prevent these damages from occurring, here are several tips to protect your asphalt from the weather:

1.) Seal your asphalt every few years to protect and maintain the surface area. This will also prevent water from seeping through the asphalt and adds an extra layer of protection against the weather.

2). To prevent water or moisture damage, make sure that your asphalt has a proper drainage system. Because rain is an inevitable weather condition, make sure that your asphalt pavement is specifically designed to properly drain water. This will keep your asphalt from eroding and extend the asphalt lifespan.

3). If you’re interested in repaving your asphalt or are looking to start a new foundation.  Advancements in asphalt technology such as porous asphalt allow water to flow through the asphalt, greatly reducing floods and directing rain water back to proper water channels. Porous asphalt is ideal for wet conditions and can absorb 70% of precipitation year round.

Another type of asphalt that is more commonly used in harsh weather conditions is called hot-mix asphalt pavement. Hot-mix asphalt is utilized in much colder weather conditions where freezing and thawing patterns occur more frequent, coupled by the usages of salt and sand solutions that constantly erode asphalt pavements.

4). Make sure that your asphalt pavement is professionally installed. Having your pavement professionally installed automatically provides you with the expert advice needed to know what’s best in terms of structure, location, design and the type of asphalt needed to sustain all weather conditions.

5). Most importantly, keep up with the maintenance. If you’re able to keep up the maintenance of your asphalt pavement, quickly recognizing the weathering affects, cracks and potential damages to come, it will save you lots of time, effort and money.

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