For general contractors or those managing industrial paving, one of the top concerns is often seasonal and environmental changes that could impact the integrity of the pavement. And the truth is that while asphalt is a wonderfully resilient and utilitarian material to use in paving, it tends to be prone to damage from both traffic and natural elements. Here’s how some common seasonal changes may affect your asphalt paving and what you should be looking for as winter turns to spring and the weather warms back up.
The Asphalt Paving Process
First, let’s talk about the initial process of asphalt paving to get an understanding of the steps in the process and the layers of pavement that could be affected by seasonal and temperature changes. There are a wide variety of types of asphalt, from cold mix to hot mix to porous to coarse graded. Depending on a number of factors—including the climate where your project will take place, the ground beneath your pavement, the types of traffic you anticipate, your budgetary constraints, and more—an expert asphalt paving team will be able to best advise you on the type of asphalt to use for your industrial project.
If you have existing asphalt in place, this will either need to be completely removed through demolition (with the potential of some material being recycled in your new asphalt) or simply stripped at the top layers to preserve the subbase layer. The route you take will depend on the type of project you’re completing and the level of damage your asphalt has. Next, through a process of careful grading and sloping, your asphalt will be optimally shaped for your project. A binder layer is then applied to your subbase for added durability. Finally, new asphalt can be laid, then smoothed and compacted.
What Is the Freeze-Thaw Cycle?
Unfortunately, despite asphalt being an incredibly durable material, it can be at risk of deterioration with time, heavy traffic, and seasonal changes. And two of the biggest risks to the integrity of your asphalt and the longevity of your paving projects are moisture and heat. When moisture seeps into cracks in the pavement, it can become trapped in the base or subbase layers. When the outside temperatures reach below freezing, the trapped water can freeze and expand, causing further breakages in the asphalt.
How Heat Affects Pavement
When temperatures warm up again, that frozen water will thaw. The asphalt—already damaged from the freezing and expanding—is left weakened and susceptible to further damage from heavy machinery or simply just traffic. All of this can happen multiple times within the course of just one winter, but over a number of years, it can mean major and ongoing damage to your industrial asphalt. From frost heave and buckling to potholes and widening cracks, your asphalt’s exposure to hot and cold temperatures means that it’s vulnerable to damage.
What to Look for During Seasonal Transitions
You’ll want to start by taking a regular audit of the quality of your asphalt—whether seasonally or even monthly—and accounting for signs of damage and deterioration. Take stock of existing damage, including fatigue cracking (or alligator cracking, known as such because of the scale-like pattern spanning the pavement), pitting and dents, potholes, lifting and buckling, longitudinal cracking (cracking that runs parallel to the centerline of the pavement), and transverse cracking (cracking that runs perpendicular to the centerline of the pavement).
Any of these signs of damage should be repaired quickly or you risk further deterioration that could cost much more in terms of budget and lost productivity. Rank each observation on a scale of severity, so you know which items seem more pressing to repair right away vs. possibly waiting until later. If you’re having trouble figuring this out, talk to a knowledgeable asphalt paving company to help you prioritize your project and scheduling needs.
Weather Conditions for Asphalt Paving
As you assess your asphalt’s damage and determine what types of repair projects will need to be done, you’ll want to also consider the appropriate timing of these projects. For instance, you may be eyeing potholes and wondering to yourself, can asphalt paving be done in cold weather?
It’s true that a full depth reconstruction may be much more difficult—and sometimes impossible—during colder weather. But you may be able to get simple cut and patch repairs to potholes and small cracks, regardless of the outside temperatures or any inclement weather. Crack sealing isn’t often done during winter months, but this type of project may be able to be achieved with the use of a hot air lance and some hot sealant. Cold patching is a viable option even for those located in snowy, icy climates and can provide a temporary fix until the weather warms enough for you to complete more comprehensive repairs.
There are workarounds for many types of asphalt paving projects. Speak to a team of asphalt experts with a proven track record of success to determine your options based on the climate where you’re located.
When Should I Consider Hiring an Asphalt Paving Service?
Some common indicators of minor asphalt damage include smaller cracks and dents in the surface of your pavement. If you’re seeing things like fatigue cracks or potholes, it likely means that conditions have begun to deteriorate to a more serious level. And observing buckling or upheaval in your pavement may mean you’re looking at a more substantial structural level of damage. The answer to this question is not to wait until the damage is so drastic that it causes major structural issues or affects other operations like water drainage.
The bottom line is this: If you’re seeing any issues whatsoever in your asphalt, you should absolutely call in an asphalt repair service as soon as possible to help mitigate the risks of further or more serious and costly damage. Tiny cracks may seem like a small nuisance now, but once moisture begins to seep into them, they could spell trouble for your industrial paving in the future. Remember, repairing the structural integrity of your asphalt is much more costly than smaller repairs that could guard against these larger issues. Road closures could affect the scheduling of your business and mean lost productivity during downtime. And if issues worsen before they’re addressed, they may become more and more difficult to fix.
Common Asphalt Paving Services
Fortunately, there are a wide array of asphalt paving services to address a variety of needs, from large to small. Some of these may not cost you much to fix and could help you avoid much more costly repairs down the line. From springtime and summer asphalt repairs to cold weather asphalt paving, the first step is working with a knowledgeable asphalt repair team to get the job done correctly from the start.
Companies like Cassidy Paving may provide a range of industrial paving services including full depth reconstruction, pulverize and grade services, overlay and resurfacing, milling, or cut and patch repairs. Depending on your climate, your budget, the extent of damage and deterioration, and more, any one of these services may help get you on your way to more structurally sound pavement—reducing the risks of downtime, vehicle damage, or even injuries to foot traffic.
Count on Cassidy Paving to Help You With Your Projects
Cassidy Paving is your one-stop shop for all things industrial asphalt paving in the Northeast United States. We’re a family-owned and operated asphalt paving company headquartered in Haverhill, MA, and we serve clients throughout Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. Our asphalt repair and maintenance services include all of the ones listed above, as well as things like snow removal services, parking lot restriping, and ADA compliance improvements.
What sets Cassidy Paving apart from the rest is our knowledgeable team of subject matter experts. Our full-time crew has over 100 years of combined experience—and in addition to that, they’re bonded with full liability and full workers’ compensation insurance. We also staff every single paving project according to the needs of our clients, using top-of-the-line equipment to complete every project on time, on budget, and to the highest standards. When you work with Cassidy Paving, you can rest assured that quality will never be missed. In fact, we offer a guarantee on all new paving services to ensure your complete satisfaction.
Whether you need help with your site audit to simply assess the existing deterioration of your pavement or you’re ready to jump into a full replacement of your industrial asphalt, we’re here to help. We’ll scope each project accordingly, communicate with you every step of the way, and ensure your satisfaction with the outcome. It’s never too early to get started on making improvements to your industrial asphalt—and fixing minor damage now could save you big in the long run. Contact us today to speak with one of our helpful representatives about your asphalt paving, repair, or maintenance needs.