How do different environmental factors affect asphalt?



When it comes to your sidewalk, the money and time you spend on making it sustainable shouldn’t be wasted. Environmental factors can have a significant impact on the performance of your pavement and cause serious damage.

Let’s take a look at the different environmental factors to watch out for.

1. Temperature

Temperature affects the pavement in various ways. Hot temperatures cause the asphalt to expand, causing cracks and allowing water to seep in. This will start to erode the layers of your pavement, making it look unsightly.

Meanwhile, during the winter months, cold temperatures at or below the freezing point will also lead to cracks. If water seeps into the cracks in the winter, the water will freeze and expand, causing an even deeper fracture. When the ice begins to melt, the water sinks deeper into the crack, only to freeze and thaw again. This cycle can lead to the start of a pothole or other deep cracks.

2. Precipitation

Water can be extremely damaging to asphalt, as moisture will decrease the strength and durability of the material. When water settles on the surface, especially during heavy rainfall, the oil separates from the asphalt. If this happens, you can expect the shrinkage of the asphalt, water infiltration into the cracks to expand at colder temperatures, and the development of cracks.

Typically, asphalt is not much affected by light rain. The problem stems from insufficient drainage and waterlogging. Every time it rains, water collects, which only increases the damage and deterioration.

3. Traffic and vehicle loads

Exposing the pavement to heavy loads and traffic can cause pavement fatigue which will bend, strain and eventually break the pavement. If the pavement experiences heavy traffic from large vehicles, the asphalt will have a constant wheel load which can cause stress. In addition, the damage is greater if the wheels move at a very slow speed. Continued stress will eventually damage the asphalt.

Why maintenance is so important

Don’t waste your time and money. Stay one step ahead of your pavement repair before problems get out of hand. Routine maintenance is essential to avoid serious damage.

Here are some reasons why pavement preservation is so important:

  • Safety – Whether it’s your sidewalk, driveway, or the middle of the road, uneven pavement can be dangerous. Avoid the risk of injury and potential damage to vehicles with quality asphalt maintenance.
  • Cost – When the damage is extremely deep or extensive, the repair can be very expensive. Small cracks, however, only need quick fixes, so you can save a lot of money by staying alert.
  • Longer Life – If you continuously monitor the maintenance of your asphalt, you can keep your surface preserved and protected for longer. This will save you time and money, and you will increase the durability of your asphalt.
  • Appeal – Cracks and potholes in your sidewalk are unattractive, especially in front of your home or business. Keep your surrounding sidewalk welcoming to avoid reducing your home’s resale value or losing a business.

Over time, the pavement will deteriorate – whether from heat, rain, snow, or just regular use – and potholes, cracks and fractures are inevitable. . Proper maintenance will keep your asphalt safe, prevent further damage, and save you money in the long run.

This article was written by Emma Iammarino with Unique Paving Materials, Cleveland, OH.


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