Once winter really gets going, you probably wake up in the morning with a mug of cocoa in one hand while busily checking the road conditions on your phone with the other—hoping your snow removal team has cleared your parking lots and roadways so people can get to your establishment, or make it to work or to the store if they need to. What you may not be thinking about, though it may be tickling the back of your mind come spring, is what all this wacky winter weather is doing to your asphalt pavement. Here’s just 4 effects that snow has on your asphalt paving (and what you need to do to minimize the damage):
1. The Notorious Freeze-Thaw Cycle
Freeze, thaw, rinse, repeat; the snow falls one night, gets scraped away, then melts, then refreezes, then melts and refreezes, then melts… you get the picture. Here in Northern Virginia, we can have a lot of weekly, even daily freeze-thaw cycles. If your asphalt pavement hasn’t been properly sealed and maintained, even the tiniest of cracks can fill up with snow and ice, which melts, then re-freezes. During this process, the ice expands in the crack, forcing the crack to widen. Eventually, these tiny cracks get bigger and spread. So it’s very important to keep an eye on cracks in your asphalt pavement all year round so that they are less susceptible to this relentless freeze-thaw cycle during the winter. In the spring, make sure to check and have any new cracks repaired promptly and keep up with your asphalt’s sealcoating schedule in the summer.
2. Snowmelt & De-Icers
Thank goodness for these, right? They keep your parking and driving areas less slippery and enable people to get where they need to go safely when the weather is nasty. However, the salts, potassium acetate or magnesium acetates used in these de-icers can damage asphalt surfaces. They can also cause harm to the environment surrounding your paved areas. Here at Espina Paving, we can suggest de-icing mixes that are more appropriate to your asphalt mix, and that won’t have as bad an impact on the environment. But remember, try to go easy on these de-icers in the first place.
3. Love for the Snowplows
When Mother Nature dishes out her most impressive snow storms, we all cheer on the brave guys on the snow removal crew, right? Thank goodness for them! But your asphalt may have a difference of opinion with you there… particularly if your snow removal crew isn’t very experienced in how to protect the underlying asphalt pavement. But still, even the best snow plow guys have bad days, so keep an eye on your pavement over the winter, and particularly check for scrape marks in the spring. Usually, all that you need to do is call us for a sealcoating fix, and the pavement should be fine.
4. Pooling of Melted Snow
The great thing about black asphalt pavement is that that dark color sucks up the sun’s heat (when we can get it) and melts the snow pretty quickly. One thing you have to watch for is areas where this melted snow and ice starts to pool up. This could point to drainage problems that you will need to have fixed before they become big and costly. Espina Paving’s modern environmental solutions can also help—a porous asphalt surface can allow snow melt to filter back down into the environment cleanly as it was intended. Yes, it is indeed possible to have a “green” asphalt parking lot.
So keep an eye on your asphalt paving over the winter and if you notice any scrapes, cracking or potholes, contact Espina Paving right away so we can minimize the damage, keep your customers, guests, residents, students, patients or congregants safe throughout the winter while helping you keep your maintenance budget down!