Common Causes of Deterioration in Asphalt

Common Causes of Deterioration in Asphalt

Aug 09 2022

A key goal of many repair needs on your property will be to also assess the causes of the damage so they can be avoided in the future, and a good example here is asphalt repair. While actually repairing the asphalt itself is obviously very important, addressing the reasons it became damaged to begin with is also meaningful for the future.

At Asphalt Masters, we’re proud to provide the best asphalt repair and related services in Ogden and nearby parts of Utah — and we’ll also assist with this important part of the process. With this theme in mind, what are some of the most common causes of asphalt damage and deterioration, and how can they be avoided wherever possible? Here’s a basic primer.

Moisture Concerns

Perhaps the single most common and well-known cause of asphalt damage is water. More specifically, it’s usually moisture that seeps below the asphalt surface and then freezes during cold weather that does the most harm.

Asphalt is porous, you see, and this means water can work its way down to the base material. When it does, and then temperatures drop low enough that this water freezes, the expansion that results will often cause cracks, potholes, and other damage to form.

How can you avoid moisture-based damage? It starts with making sure your gutters are clean and in good repair so they direct water away from your property. You should also look out for any pooling of water on the surface, and take steps to correct this as soon as possible. Regular sealcoating can also help, as it provides an extra layer of protection against moisture penetration.

Excessive Weight and Pressure

While asphalt is a very strong and durable material, it’s not designed to support excessive weight or pressure on a regular basis. This is particularly true for asphalt that hasn’t been properly maintained — if the surface isn’t sealed and protected from the start, it will be more susceptible to damage from heavy vehicles and other objects.

If you have an asphalt parking lot or another area where large vehicles regularly travel, it’s important to take steps to protect the surface. This might mean making sure vehicles don’t idle or park in the same spot for extended periods of time, or it could involve having a sign that designates a specific route that should be followed.

In some cases, you may also need to have your asphalt reinforced with additional material to ensure it can handle the weight and pressure.

Chemical Exposure

Whether we’re talking about car gasoline, oil, or some other type of substance, chemicals can also cause damage to asphalt. They can break down the surface material, make it more brittle, and lead to a host of other problems.

To avoid this type of damage, it’s important to clean up any spills as quickly as possible. You should also be aware of any potential sources of chemical exposure, such as vehicles that regularly leak oil or gasoline, and take steps to address them.

Sun Exposure

Another form of exposure that can cause damage to asphalt is excessive sun exposure. Over time, the UV rays from the sun can break down the surface material and make it more susceptible to cracking, potholing, and other forms of damage.

To protect your asphalt from the sun, you can have it regularly sealed with a high-quality sealcoating material. This will provide a barrier against the sun’s rays, and help to extend the life of your asphalt.

Major Temperature Changes

In other cases, it’s not exposure to one particular element that causes damage, but rather sudden and extreme changes in temperature. When asphalt is heated too quickly or cooled too rapidly, it can become brittle and crack.

This type of damage is most likely to occur when hot asphalt is exposed to cold water, such as from a fire hose or sprinkler system. It can also happen if hot asphalt is used to patch cold asphalt, or if blacktop is laid down in very cold weather.

To avoid this type of damage, it’s important to take steps to ensure the temperature of the asphalt is as consistent as possible. This might mean waiting for a warmer day to make repairs, or using a heater to warm the asphalt before making a repair.

In general, it’s also important to be aware of the forecasted temperature for the day, and take steps to protect your asphalt from extreme changes in temperature if necessary.

Improper Installation

Finally, it’s worth noting that damage to asphalt can also occur simply due to improper installation. If the subgrade is not properly prepared, or if the asphalt itself is not placed and compacted correctly, it will be more susceptible to problems down the road.

This is why it’s so important to work with a reputable and experienced asphalt contractor who knows how to properly install asphalt. While it might cost a bit more upfront, it will save you money in the long run by preventing costly repairs.

If you’re having asphalt installed on your property, be sure to ask about the contractor’s experience, and get references from previous clients if possible.

Asphalt is a strong and durable material, but it can be susceptible to damage from a variety of factors. To keep your asphalt in great shape, consider the common causes of deterioration we’ve gone over above, plus some of the methods we listed for combatting them.

For more on this, or to learn about any of our asphalt repairs, parking lot striping or other services, speak to our team at Asphalt Masters today.