Continuous exposure to winter weather conditions like extreme cold, temperature fluctuations from mild to extreme snow, ice, and sleet can all severely damage your asphalt pavement over long periods of time. If your asphalt has a weak structural foundation to begin with, then the winter damages will only make it a lot worse and more expensive to repair and maintain. Asphalt pavement is extremely durable and resilient, but it needs regular maintenance, cleaning, and care to help it withstand harmful winter elements.
Keep reading to learn about how cold weather affects asphalt pavement and what you can do to prevent expensive damages.
Why Is Winter Such a Big Issue for Your Asphalt Pavement?
One of the biggest challenges commercial and industrial property owners face in the winter is preventing asphalt damages in their park lots and other communal structures. Freeze-thaw cycles occur when the temperatures rapidly fluctuate from above to below freezing in a matter of hours or even days.
Asphalt is a very flexible material. When winter temperatures change quickly, especially when going from day to night and vice versa, this causes the asphalt to contract and expand at a rapid pace as well. Any water or debris that happens to be trapped beneath the surface of the asphalt will automatically freeze and expand and contract along with the asphalt.
This process creates a tunnel effect inside your asphalt and weakens the structural integrity, causing it to crack and dip even more than it already has.
How Does Winter Impact Your Asphalt Pavement?
Neglecting your asphalt pavement in the months leading up to and during the winter season can have significantly negative effects on your property as a whole. If you don’t have the equipment, resources, or ability to implement proper winter maintenance yourself, then you should consider hiring professional asphalt pavement services to do it for you. By doing so, you can help mitigate some of the following winter weather effects on your asphalt pavement and save yourself a lot of money and stress in the future.
As mentioned, the freeze- thaw cycle that occurs fairly frequently, sometimes even multiple times a day, during the winter months can cause considerable damage to your asphalt. Snow and ice that stay on your asphalt will eventually melt on days when the temperatures are milder. Standing water from melted snow and ice will eventually break down the binding agents in your asphalt aggregate, allowing moisture to penetrate the surface. Water that becomes trapped in the foundation of your asphalt will eventually freeze and expand, forcing your asphalt to expand in the process. You may start to notice surface cracking as a result of this internal structural damage.
As more water, ice, snow, and debris seep in through the cracks, the damages caused by freezing temperatures will only get worse over time.
Wet and Slippery Conditions
Neglecting to maintain your asphalt pavement during winter can also lead to some dangerous walking and driving conditions. As a property owner, you’re liable for any accidents or injuries that occur on your property due to lack of maintenance. That includes slip and falls or any incidents involving black ice and snow. To prevent an incident, it’s in your best interest to invest proper asphalt pavement services during the winter months.
Chemical-Based De-Icers and Snow Melters
Commercial-grade de-icers and snow melters typically contain a lot of questionable chemicals that can wreak havoc on the environment, especially if ingested by local wildlife or if they make their way into community water systems. To minimize your business’s environmental impact while still keeping your parking lot safe and fully operational this winter, opt for natural snow and ice melting methods instead. You can either purchase natural snow and ice melting products from your local asphalt pavement services provider, a hardware store, or even make your own homemade version by mixing together hot water and a mild eco-friendly dish soap in a large bucket and applying it directly to the snow and ice. Kitty litter is also an effective natural anti-slip agent, but it won’t melt snow or ice.
Snow Relocation Problems
Another challenge that many property owners face in the winter is where to store or relocate large heaps of snow once it’s been plowed. Your best option is to try to find a low-traffic portion of your parking lot that won’t be missed if it’s out of commission for a few months. Make sure it’s somewhere out of the way where pedestrians and drivers are unlikely to walk or drive and injure themselves or others.
Snow and Ice Removal Equipment
Certain types of snow and ice removal equipment such as manual and electric shovels, snowplows, and wheelbarrows can damage your asphalt surface. Metal shovels and chemical de-icing agents are particularly harmful to asphalt pavement because they directly scrape the surface and break down binding agents, causing the asphalt to crumble.
How to Prevent Winter Asphalt Damages
As always, preparation is crucial for preventing winter asphalt damages. Asphalt pavement benefits are plentiful, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely invulnerable to the abovementioned damages. Here are some important steps you can take to minimize or completely prevent winter asphalt pavement damages.
Repair Existing Cracks
Cracks in your asphalt are a gateway for water and debris to penetrate the surface of your pavement and cause internal damages. Fall or the very beginning of winter when there’s no snow on the ground is the ideal time to patch up existing cracks to prevent this from happening.
Resurface the Whole Area
Asphalt resurfacing involves removing the entire top layer of your pavement and replacing it with a brand new aggregate. Oftentimes if the existing aggregate is in fairly good shape, it can be reused to make the new mixture.
Avoid Overusing the Same Areas
High-traffic areas of your asphalt pavement usually take the most abuse, whether it’s from foot or vehicular traffic. If you can, try to minimize the amount of strain put on weak spots of your asphalt until you can get them fixed.
Got Winter Asphalt Pavement Problems? We’ve Got the Solutions!
At Sure-Seal Pavement Maintenance Inc., we make crack repair in Toronto, Vaughan, and the GTA easy and affordable. Our experienced asphalt pavement crew specializes in installation, maintenance, and repairs. We also offer an extensive seven-year warranty on all asphalt pavement projects. That along with our excellent customer service is just one of the many reasons we’ve earned an A+ rating on the BBB. Contact us today to learn more or to book our winter asphalt maintenance services.