Over time, asphalt experiences a degree of weathering due to the seasonal changes in the Minneapolis and St. Paul areas. Asphalt surfaces can experience damage from harsh sunlight, heavy rain, and temperature changes that cause freezing or thawing.
Although much of the damage may occur during the extreme seasons of summer and winter, there are also fall and spring conditions that can make asphalt vulnerable to the elements. Below, we explore how asphalt reacts to weather conditions all year long.
The Winter Freeze
The most notable threat to asphalt during the winter is the sub-zero temperatures. Minnesota experiences temperatures of -30°F or lower. The severe drop in temperature can cause a significant contraction in the material and lead to rigidity and cracks.
Moisture trapped in cracks or below the pavement will freeze once the temperature falls below 32°F. Water expands when it freezes and causes the asphalt to split. Freezing water also causes the ground to heave or uplift due to the expansion. This reaction can create cracks or potholes in the asphalt.
The best way to combat these problems develop an asphalt maintenance program and ensure proper drainage techniques are in place.
The Spring Thaw
As the winter snow and ice melt in the springtime, the ground starts to thaw. This melting process, combined with the spring rain saturates the asphalt and the ground underneath. An abundance of moisture can form puddles in existing cracks or potholes in the asphalt.
The excess moisture can cause gradual deterioration if the water saturates the asphalt for an extended period of time. Even in sloped roads or parking lots, water can flow over the surface for several days at a time as the ice melts slowly and the spring brings the rainy season.
You can protect the pavement by cracksealing as soon as you notice cracks in the surface of the pavement. You can also patch the potholes to prevent water from penetrating any exposed areas.
The Summer Heat
Ultraviolet (UV) oxidation causes a slower form of deterioration in asphalt pavement during the summer. Asphalt is made of a combination of light and heavy oils. UV and oxygen in the air causes the light oils to form into heavy oils. The heavier oils cause the asphalt to be more brittle and therefore, more likely to crack.
The Autumn Rain
Rain levels increase during the autumn season. The ongoing contact with standing or flowing water can cause the same asphalt deterioration as it does in the springtime. Rain can wear down the top layer, causing small pieces of asphalt to erode a little at a time.
While the Fall season may be the easiest time of the year on asphalt, the surface has endured the freezing winter, the thawing spring, and the hot summer. Any additional water in the fall can accelerate the deterioration even more.
Autumn is also amongst the busiest time of the year for pavement construction companies. Ongoing rain during the season can sometimes delay projects into the following spring.
Asphalt Pavement Services in Minneapolis
Bituminous Roadways, Inc. provides superior paving for parking lots, trails, apartment complexes, and roadways in the Minneapolis and St. Paul areas.
For more information about asphalt maintenance, asphalt paving, asphalt materials, or to get an estimate, please contact Bituminous Roadways at (651) 686-7001 or send a message on our contact page.