Climate vs. Pavement: A Match Made in Heaven?
Asphalt parking lots and driveways are a ubiquitous sight in the United States, with more than 90% of paved surfaces constructed from this blacktop material. While asphalt boasts many virtues, such as its affordability, easy maintenance, and flexibility, it is not impervious to wear and tear. One factor that affects the pavement’s durability is the weather. How does sunlight, rain, and freezing temperatures affect the lifespan of our asphalt surfaces?
Seasonal Woes: Summer Heat and Winter Cold
Extreme temperatures wreak havoc on asphalt in different ways. During the summer months, asphalt surfaces are exposed to high heat that can cause the material to soften and become more pliable, which can lead to tire marks, scuffs, and surface deformation. The heat can also cause the asphalt to expand and contract, creating small cracks that allow water to seep underneath the pavement’s surface. Winter weather brings its own set of problems, primarily in regions with freezing temperatures. As water infiltrates small cracks or pores in the surface, it can freeze and expand, causing more significant cracks and potholes. Plowing snow from roads and parking lots also adds to the wear and tear.
Wet and Wild: The Effect of Heavy Rainfall
When asphalt is exposed to heavy rainfall, the water can seep into the small cracks and spaces around the pavement surface. This water intrusion elevates the risk that the pavement will become softer, leading to additional wear. The increased moisture can also cause the material to weaken, leading to potholes. The effect of standing water is even more pronounced, as this water can seep into deeper pavement layers and weaken the road or pavement’s foundation, leading to complete pavement failure.
The Silver Lining: Protecting Your Pavement
While the weather can’t be controlled, there are steps that pavement owners can take to extend their pavement’s lifespan. One key step is routine maintenance. Regular sealing and repair of small cracks can prevent them from growing larger. Pavement striping can help prevent the asphalt from softening and becoming more pliable because the reflective paint helps deflect sunlight. Another crucial step is proper drainage around the pavement section. Sloping the pavement surface to a low point and installing a good drainage system can prevent water from pooling and standing on the pavement surface. Finally, pavement owners can choose to install lighter colored surfaces, such as concrete or porous pavement. These surfaces are less prone to thermal expansion and maintain their integrity during harsh summer conditions.
The Bottom Line: Weathering the Storm for Durable Pavement
The weather can be a potent force, but it doesn’t have to spell doom for our driveways and parking lots. By taking regular care of our pavement surfaces and installing preventative measures such as proper drainage systems and lighter colored surfaces, we can maximize our pavement’s lifespan and keep it functioning for years to come. Complement your reading and expand your knowledge on the topic with this specially selected external content for you. Delve into this useful material, uncover new perspectives and additional information!
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