How Pavement Reacts to Changes in Temperature

January 17, 2019 Published by Leave your thoughts

Asphalt and concrete pavement are incredibly durable materials that are capable of withstanding thousands of pounds of weight at any given time. When maintained properly, the pavement can last for decades. However, major temperature swings can do a number on the condition of the pavement. While this isn’t as big of a problem here in the valley, there are many areas of the country that experience some very extreme temperature shifts throughout the course of the year, going from below zero in the winter to over 100 in the summer. These huge swings in temperature can result in damage to highways, roads, walkways, parking lots and other paved areas.

Here’s some information from a company providing asphalt repairs in Phoenix, AZ about what exactly happens when pavement is exposed to extreme temperature changes.

Extreme heat

Here in Phoenix, we know all about extreme heat. When pavement is exposed to extremely hot temperatures over a long period of time, it will slowly begin to expand. If it expands too much, it will begin to crack.

Cracked pavement is much more susceptible to further damage. Once a crack opens up, you can be sure it will expand over time, which could lead to some significant problems on the roadways, especially if it’s in an area where the weather also gets extremely cold during the winter.

Cracked surfaces allow water to get down underneath the subsurface, which can result in erosion. Air gaps can then form underneath the surface of the pavement. If weight is applied to the top layer, the asphalt can sag and form a divot or depression. In some circumstances, it can result in a pothole or even a sinkhole.

Extreme cold

Extreme cold isn’t something Phoenix residents will typically have to worry about, but it’s still important to have an understanding of how it can affect pavement.

During the winter, temperature changes can be more volatile, going above and below freezing frequently. Even if there’s no precipitation on the ground, some water might seep into cracked asphalt areas. As the temperature warms, this will create puddles of water underneath that can erode the subsurface. When the temperature freezes again, the water freezes and expands, pushing on the cracks and making them larger. This results in much more significant and dangerous damage to the road that will need to be addressed by a professional.

What about precipitation?

Rain can be a problem for the pavement during the winter, and also during the summer if the pavement is on a slope. An incline can cause the rainwater to wash down the liquid asphalt, eroding the top layer of the material. This means that paved area can wear away over time to the point where it mostly becomes rock and other aggregate materials.

All of the above should give you some insight into why pavement maintenance is so important. For more information about when you might need asphalt repairs in Phoenix, AZ, reach out to the team at Sunstar Seal Coating, Inc. today.

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