Pavement is an incredibly durable material that can withstand thousands of pounds of weight, but it also has its vulnerabilities. Many areas of the country experience extreme temperature differences throughout the year that take its toll on paved highways, roads, parking lots, walkways, and more. Here, our asphalt paving company shares what happens over time:
When pavement is exposed to hot temperatures, it begins to expand and if it expands too much, it starts to crack. Once a paved area is cracked, that crack can become bigger over time and begin to cause real problems. In addition, pavement cracks allow water to seep inside and can eventually erode the sub-surface layers. When this happens, air gaps can form and once weight is applied to the top layer (say, from a passing vehicle), the asphalt will sag and form a depression or divot. In some worsened cases, it can result in a pothole.
During the winter, the temperatures can fluctuate above and below freezing and while there may not be any precipitation on the ground, there could still be some underneath. If snow, rain, sleet, or hail seeps into a cracked area of asphalt and the temperature warms, it results in water. Once the temperature drops again, the water freezes and expands, pushing the crack outward. This freeze-thaw process can widen already-made cracks and can even cause more significant and dangerous damage like potholes.
While rain can be a problem for pavement in the winter, it can also be problematic when the area of pavement is on a significant slope. A steep incline can result in rain constantly washing down the liquid asphalt (the material used to bond the aggregates that form asphalt) and eventually can erode away the top layer of the material. Over time, the paved area can wear away and become mainly rock and aggregate.