In general, pavement owners have a hard time deciding when to move forward with pavement repairs. Indecision becomes significantly worse in the fall when cooler weather rolls in. At that point, pavement repairs fall to the bottom of the list for property owners, as they aren’t aware of the significant deteriorations that can happen in 3-6 months over the brutal winter.
With air temperatures this week in Chicagoland reaching 30°F, it’s safe to say winter is quickly approaching. Having that in mind, it’s critical to address all pavement deteriorations now so that emergency repairs can be performed to extend the life of your pavement.
Winter Pavement Repairs and Distress
Chicagoland is known for having long and harsh winters. That trend won’t stop anytime soon. Unfortunately, asphalt pavement and freeze-thaw cycles don’t mix well. Add in the wear and tear from snowplows and deicing materials, and it’s quick to see how our pavements take a beating in the winter.
The degradation of your pavement throughout the winter months goes mostly unnoticed, however. There’s often a thin layer of snow covering the pavement surface, which can easily hide those critical first signs of deterioration. Those failures get compounded over the winter, making for a shocking revelation for property owners and managers in the spring. The amount and severity of the new and existing damage can be overwhelming.
How Pavement Distress Happens
The two main culprits that wreak the most havoc with pavement are cold temperatures and moisture. Let’s review each to see how and why they create such an impact on our asphalt surfaces:
- Low temperatures cause asphalt to contract and shrink
- That contraction creates tension within the asphalt
- The asphalt tries to pull away from itself
- When the tension becomes too strong, cracks develop
- Fluctuations in temperature cause moisture to freeze and melt continuously
- As the water settles into cracks and then freezes, it turns into ice and expands
- When this happens inside existing cracks, the pavement stretches further than it can handle
The continual expansion and contraction wear down the asphalt at an aggressive pace and reduce your pavement’s longevity. Furthermore, the longer asphalt is in contact with water; the more deterioration is likely to occur. Contact with water includes water sitting on top of asphalt, flowing across the pavement, or settling into your pavement’s cracks.
When water or moisture has impacted your pavement, you’ll start to notice signs of degradation or failure. The most noticeable clues to watch for are:
- Minor loosening or crumbling
- Faded pavement markings
- Faded pavement (from jet black to gray)
Why Perform Pavement Repairs Now?
Ultimately, your ability to limit your pavement’s exposure to moisture and freeze/thaw cycles starts with maintaining your pavement’s surface. If water can seep through cracks and deteriorations now, it becomes trapped beneath the pavement once freezing temperatures hit. When water freezes and expands below the pavement surface, frost heave can occur. Frost heave is a buckling upward shift in the asphalt and correlates directly to insufficient pavement maintenance or improper drainage.
Furthermore, your pavement’s structural integrity is compromised when water is present below the pavement surface with freezing temperatures outside. Uneven pavement settling and other failures due to frost heaves are unsafe for your customers or the traveling public and are an eye-sore for any parking lot or roadway. NOW is the time to minimize your risk of pavement failure; guaranteeing your asphalt surfaces will make it unscathed through the winter.
What to do NOW!
Crack sealing and performing pavement repairs is a standard first line of defense against significant pavement deterioration caused by winter weather. Having a pavement consultant walk through your property to assess pavement deteriorations right now is critical. Giving proper attention to cracks prevents problems from spreading. Additionally, catching much-needed pavement repairs in the early stages of damage pay dividends later by delaying costly asphalt repairs. Investing in those repairs now could save you thousands in future repair costs once spring rolls around.
We’d be glad to assess your pavement and talk about repair and maintenance options. Similarly, we can help you plan a budget for future pavement repairs. You can call us at 630-529-2500 or contact us to request a quote online. Our goal is to eliminate the hassle of business or property owners coordinating multiple repairs and services. Our team would be happy to take care of all your needs at once — saving you time, stress, and money.