Anyone who’s ever lived in a cold climate knows the damage that adverse conditions cause on our roads, driveways, and parking lots. Additionally, many cities’ solutions for these issues are just quick fixes, and over time, make road conditions far worse than before. If you’re running an asphalt maintenance business or are simply interested in winter weather and how it affects asphalt, check out this helpful guide.
Ice Makes Cracks
Snowfall is the best part of the winter season, but the presence of ice is only welcomed on a lake or pond. Ice is the main culprit for creating cracks and eventually pesky potholes on the road or a parking lot. Snow and rainfall freeze and form ice that infiltrates existing gaps in the asphalt, thus causing road materials to contract and expand.
As the ice melts and refreezes, it enters deeper cracks, leading to massive holes and dangerous bumps. Asphalt quickly loses its structural integrity once in this cycle, costing everyday people through repair taxes and automobile repairs.
Ice Lenses Decimate Asphalt
Unfortunately, ice doesn’t just create chronic cracks—it also produces more devastating ice lenses that are the primary cause of potholes and decimation. This occurs because water underneath the surface, which usually reenters the water table during other seasons, freezes over and blocks the natural absorption of liquids. This event is called “frost heave.”
Frost heave directly produces ice lenses which are large chunks of ice. As the lenses expand, they push up on asphalt with great force, and come warmer weather, these chunks melt and leave behind huge holes in the road. To ensure car safety on the street, companies should practice proper steps for repairing asphalt cracks ahead of time to avoid expensive, time-consuming projects.
Salt Erodes Internal Materials
Most cities and towns quickly respond to ice roads by laying down salt, which effectively melts ice and allows for more grip. This process is imperative for keeping commuters safe, but this salt can cause massive destruction to asphalt in some situations. The most vulnerable roads are ones that are already damaged, as salt erodes the internal materials through existing cracks and holes.
Salt does not cause potholes or cracks, but it can elongate and boost harmful frost cycles on the asphalt surface. Not to mention the environmental toll that salt causes to our local ecosystem. Cities and individuals should always maintain quality surfaces and use sand/salt mixtures for less physical and environmental impact to curb these issues.
Understanding winter weather and how it affects asphalt is essential knowledge for everybody, from city governments and asphalt businesses to community residents. Working together and implementing more innovative methods for maintaining road quality and ice prevention is the best way to keep people safe and our towns’ transportation systems functional.