Winter elements such as cold temperatures, snow, ice, and sleet can do a lot of damage to your asphalt pavement. For that reason, it’s important to do everything in your power to adequately protect your investment to avoid expensive damages and repairs. Simple year-round asphalt maintenance tasks can actually help prolong the lifespan of your pavement, reduce the frequency of damages and repairs, and reinforce the overall structural stability of your commercial property.
In this article, we discuss some of the most common winter asphalt paving issues along with a few asphalt protection tips to maximize the functionality and longevity of your structure.
How Does Cold Weather Affect Asphalt Pavement?
Winter weather and elements can have a number of damaging effects on your asphalt pavement. Here are some of the most common factors that can weaken the structural stability of your pavement and lead to cracking.
Asphalt pavement goes through a number of freeze-thaw cycles during the winter months. Frigid temperatures cause the pavement along with any water or debris trapped beneath the surface to freeze up and expand. This creates a tunneling effect in the subgrade, which weakens the overall foundation of the asphalt. In warmer climates, the asphalt contracts as it thaws out. This action causes the asphalt to shift and makes the binding agent or bitumen in the aggregate brittle, causing it to break apart and crack. This repetitive period of freezing and thawing during the winter months is referred to as a freeze-thaw cycle.
Regional climate changes impact the quality of your asphalt pavement. Ongoing exposure to varying temperatures throughout the year forces your asphalt to undergo countless freeze-thaw cycles. Add the weight and pressure of continuous usage from pedestrians and drivers alike, and you have a recipe for disaster. Paving contractors in Toronto and the GTA typically use hot mix asphalt for commercial parking lots and roadways because it has the capacity to withstand all types of weather conditions when regularly maintained and properly repaired as needed.
Snow, rain, sleet, and ice can all do a number on your asphalt pavement. Weight from large snow deposits puts a lot of pressure on your pavement and pooling or standing water can slowly erode the binding agents in your asphalt. The solution is to apply porous asphalt that allows water to drain through the surface rather than accumulating on top of it. The water moves through a channel where it’s redirected into local water sources such as rivers or lakes to prevent flooding in inclement weather conditions.
Tips to Protect Your Asphalt Pavement in Winter
Taking the following pre-emptive actions will help protect your asphalt in winter and year-round.
Clean Your Property Regularly
Every once in a while, take the time to do a thorough sweep and inspection of your property. Create a weekly or monthly or weekly schedule so that you can track how often your asphalt is cleaned and maintained. It’s usually best to do this during your off-peak or less busy hours so that you can keep it clean longer. Cleaning your property and removing debris is especially important during the winter months. Removing debris and organic matter prevents it from getting stuck under the snow and damaging your asphalt pavement.
Repair Asphalt Cracks
Cleaning and inspecting your property regularly also allows you to quickly identify potential and existing asphalt paving issues such as cracks and other damages. Make sure to adequately repair cracks as soon as you see them. Ignoring asphalt cracks and damages allows them to get worse over time. Eventually, water and debris will penetrate the surface and cause internal damages. Cracks that are ignored will continue to expand and ultimately turn into potholes or spread throughout the structure. Patch up asphalt cracks immediately to prevent larger more costly repairs in the future.
Use Effective Snow Removal Methods
The type of snow removal methods you use depends on the size and layout of your property. Larger properties might require the use of more heavy-duty snow removal equipment such as plows, snow blowers, sidewalk plows, etc. If you have a smaller property, then you might be able to get away with simply shoveling the snow. Either way, make sure to thoroughly remove the snow and move it to an area with limited to no traffic so that it’s completely out of the way.
Try to avoid using sharp metal shovels on your asphalt pavement. Scraping them against the surface can actually cause the brittle aggregate to get scratched and break apart. It’s best to use either a heavy-duty snow plow or a plastic shovel if possible.
You should also routinely test your catch basin and drainage system to make sure that it’s in ideal working condition to handle winter weather. Pooling or standing water and backup are two of the biggest signs that your catch basin and drainage system may be damaged. If you notice this during your routine site inspection, then consult with professional asphalt paving services in Toronto and the GTA to identify and fix the issue.
Choose the Right De-Icing Agents
De-icing is an important aspect of winter property maintenance. It helps keep your property safe for pedestrians and motorists alike by melting ice and snow and creating traction on your pavement. Choose de-icing carefully, though, as some of the store-bought brands contain chemical compounds that are harmful to the environment and can damage your pavement. If possible, try to use eco-friendly and all-natural de-icing agents on your pavement. Kitty litter or sand are also great alternatives that can increase the safety of your property, although they don’t melt the ice or snow.
Sealcoat Your Asphalt Pavement
Sealcoating your asphalt at least once every two to three years adds a fresh layer of protection against year-round damages and it lengthens the lifespan of your pavement by at least 20 to 30 years. This is a worthwhile long-term investment that can boost your curb appeal, safety standards, and bottom line. Be sure to sealcoat your asphalt in the spring, summer, or early fall when the weather is still warm enough to allow the barrier to fully cure. It takes between 24 to 48 hours for sealcoating to dry completely, so be sure to schedule it during your off-peak or closed hours.
Asphalt Repair and Maintenance in Vaughan
For over 25 years, Sure-Seal Pavement Maintenance Inc. has been one of the leading asphalt installation, repair, and maintenance service providers in Toronto and the GTA. In addition to high-quality workmanship, we also offer a comprehensive seven-year warranty on all asphalt projects. Our exceptional customer service and satisfaction ratings have also helped us achieve an A+ grade with the BBB. Contact us today to book a winter property maintenance consultation