The winter season can wreak havoc on asphalt. Here are some of the effects to look for.
Freeze / Thaw Weather Cycle
Freeze-thaw weather cycles are the real culprit when it comes to winter asphalt damage. The fluctuations in temperature causes moisture to freeze and melt continuously. When water freezes and turns into ice, it expands in size. When this happens inside existing cracks on asphalt surfaces, the pavement stretches further than it can handle. The constant expansion and contraction wears down the asphalt at an accelerated pace and shortens the lifespan of your investment. What starts as minor crumbling, turns into cracks, and then eventually graduates into potholes. Damage caused by freeze-thaw will also show itself in faded pavement markings and line-striping, as well as pavement fading to grey that was once jet black.
Snowplows & Chemicals
While snowplows can quickly and efficiently remove snow from your driveway or parking lot, there is also the potential for them to cause damage to the asphalt. If the plow’s blade is set too low it can potentially scrape your pavement. In addition to this causing a blemish in your pavement, this also creates an opening for snow and water to enter and wreak havoc. Much like snowplows, chemicals and deicers can remove snow and ice quickly, but can also harm your asphalt pavement. The harmful chemicals have the potential to deteriorate asphalt; especially if there is an existing blemish. As we’ve discussed previously, cracks and blemishes increase the potential for water to enter the asphalt and cause serious damage as it goes through the freezing and thawing process.
Damage to Look Out For
The cold weather itself doesn’t cause damage to your asphalt driveway if you’ve taken preventative maintenance steps to protect it, like regular sealcoat applications and crack filling. Cold weather and freeze / thaw cycles start to cause damage when the asphalt surface has existing surface or sub-base damage. As water expands, it can exacerbate minor problems and when snow melts, it can get under the sub-base and comprise the structural integrity of the pavement. That is why it is so important to ensure that your asphalt surface is installed by a licensed professional with experience creating custom asphalt mixes designed to withstand weather.
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