What Does Snow Do to Asphalt?

effects-snow-asphalt-parking-lot

The only thing you can really say about a Northern Virginia winter is that it will be unpredictable. Sometimes we get piles of snow, sometimes ice storms, sometimes we get wild weather mood swings with temperatures that rise and fall drastically. All of this can be hard on your parking lots and roads. As spring starts peeking its head around the corner of the end of winter, it’s time to take a look at what this past winter left behind in your paved areas. Better yet, if it’s summer when you read this, take a look at what you can do to prepare your pavement to withstand the next crazy winter.

Symptoms of Snow Damage on Your Pavement

After a long winter, you might be surprised to find some of the following signs of snow damage on your roads and parking lots:

  • Crumbling around drainage areas and manholes
  • Bigger, longer cracks than before
  • Alligator cracking
  • Potholes
  • Snowplow scraping damage

The relentless freeze-thaw cycle is responsible for much of this damage. If you haven’t stayed current with your pavement’s sealcoating schedule, or you ignored some smaller cracks at the end of last year, water probably seeped its way down under the pavement and into the subbase. When temperatures drop, the water freezes and expands, pushing out on the pavement. When it thaws, everything contracts again. This expansion/contraction cycle happens over and over again all winter, widening small cracks into bigger, longer ones. It often weakens the pavement enough to cause crumbling and potholes.

What to Do about Winter Damage on Your Pavement

Don’t wait to have Espina Paving come out and assess the damage you’ve noticed. Cracks and potholes will not fill or repair themselves. In fact, they will only get longer—and more expensive—if they are left alone. We have custom hot asphalt mixes and sealants that can quickly repair smaller holes and cracks before they get out of hand and require more in-depth repairs. So call us right away this spring to have these problems fixed.

How to Prevent Future Snow Damage to Your Pavement

The following maintenance and installation work can be done to make your pavement more impervious to winter’s freeze-thaw damage:

1. High-Quality Subbase Installation

The subbase is the foundation upon which your asphalt parking lot or roadway is installed. It is so important that this underlying foundation is well installed; it prevents cracking, sinking and shifting and is built to withstand the stresses of weight and weather. Get the best asphalt contractor with a history of installing quality subbases, and you’ll have a parking lot or road that lasts a lot longer under harsher conditions.

2. Go Easy on the Snowmelt Chemicals and Salt

While our hot-mix asphalt is great at withstanding salt damage, the rest of the environment isn’t. The salts and chemicals can cause the pavement markings to deteriorate faster and can run off into waterways and water tables, causing damage to local habitats.

3. Regular Sealcoating Schedule

Depending up on the traffic your asphalt gets, you should have its sealcoat reapplied every 2-3 years during warmer weather. This maintenance will seal smaller cracks, preventing water from seeping down and making them larger, more expensive-to-repair ones. This will keep your pavement looking great and help it last much longer.

4. Consider Installing Porous Asphalt

Good drainage is essential to a long-lasting paved area. Because asphalt is dark, snow and ice melts more quickly on it than other surfaces; but if proper drainage arrangements weren’t made during installation, this can leave ponding and pooling spots that will still cause you troubles later. Espina’s environmentally-friendly porous asphalt mixes are especially good for wild weather conditions. The water can drain away cleanly through the asphalt, through the stone bed underneath, and then down into the water table. It’s a great solution for your property and the environment around it.

Don’t let the snow break your pavement down! Contact Espina Paving at (703) 491-9100 today for a consultation and repairs or new installations that will smoothly withstand future winters and all they can dish out.

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