How Changes in Weather Affect Paved Surfaces

September is finally here – that time of year when the outside temperatures gradually begin to shift from hot to cool and, in many parts of the country, increasing the chance for rain. That’s a change that impacts just about everything, including paved surfaces. In fact, if you don’t take adequate steps to protect pavement, changes in weather can take a toll on both asphalt and concrete. What follows is an explanation of the damage that can be done by different weather conditions.

  • Hot temperatures – Fall doesn’t actually arrive until the third week in September, and the first part of the month can feel every bit as hot as the middle of the summer season. When your pavement is exposed to day after day of direct sunlight and high temperatures, it can cause dry out the surface and cause cracks to form. If these cracks aren’t filled quickly, they can allow rainwater and/or irrigation water to seep under the surface of the pavement. That can make the cracks bigger and weaken the sublayer of the pavement, all of which leads to more damage to the paved surface.
  • Rainfall – Most paving experts would agree that one of the most common causes for damage to pavement is water. In many parts of the country, fall weather brings increased rainfall, and that can spell big trouble for paved surfaces. We mentioned before how water that seeps through cracks can cause damage, but that’s not the only way that water can compromise the integrity of pavement. Asphalt and concrete that is exposed to large amounts of water on a regular basis – such as pavement that is located directly under a downspout or at the bottom of a steep incline, for example – can erode. Eventually, the top layer of the pavement will actually wear down, leaving behind a gravel surface.
  • Cold temperatures – It may be hard to imagine while we’re still experiencing the heat of the summer months, but winter will be here before you know it. And cold temperatures – particularly if you live in a climate where weather conditions can vary between mild days and freezing days – can cause substantial damage to paved surfaces. Almost all pavement has tiny cracks, some of which are barely visible. During a freeze-thaw cycle in winter, water can seep into those small cracks, freeze, and then thaw out again. When that happens, those tiny cracks get progressively larger. If they’re not repaired, potholes can develop.

Fortunately, there are a couple of precautions you can take to make sure that your pavement is protected against harsh weather conditions. The first is to have any minor issues repaired quickly, before they can turn into substantial damage. And the second is to seal coat your pavement to guard against damage from sun, rain and/or the freeze-thaw cycles of winter. For more information about how to protect your pavement investment, contact a local paving contractor.