The winter is that time of the year when paved surfaces suffer the most. The effects of the cold on both asphalt and concrete paving are probably, on average, worse than the effects of excessive heat. This is because the biggest factor in degrading paved surfaces is a process known as freeze-thaw weathering, which occurs, as you might guess from the name, more aggressively during the winter. Parking Lot Pros, concrete and asphalt paving experts, advise that you shouldn’t neglect paving maintenance in the summer either, but the winter is when most of the damage is done.
Freeze-thaw weathering works according to a quite simple principle.Understanding it gives you a clear idea of how to solve the problem (or, rather, address it before it causes any excessive damage). Even the most expertly paved and high-quality surface will develop, through simple wear, some very tiny cavities or cracks. These cracks can collect water which, in cold weather, freezes. When water freezes, it expands into ice, and this therefore widens the cracks. These cracks can then collect more water next time, and expand all over again – this time even wider.
This is not the only damage that can be done during winter though. The effect of vehicles or foot traffic over the surface can wear it down (just as it can at any time of year) and a general battering by bad weather can also degrade a paved surface over time.
Is Winter the Best Time for Maintenance?
So, should you carry out road maintenance during the winter? Well, actually this is not the recommended time to do so. Paving experts generally agree that it is the spring which is the best time to carry out maintenance. This is because the milder weather at this time offers the best opportunity to carry out repairs or re-paving without the challenges that arise from either the cold during the winter or the heat of the summer.
It is also the time of the year just after the worst of the winter damage has been done, so it’s the best time to address any problems which have arisen on account of the previous winter. Of course, though, sometimes it is necessary to work during the winter.
Winter Road Maintenance
Road maintenance, in particular, sometimesneeds to be done during the winter. This is because any problems on a road surface present a danger to drivers and pedestrians alike. If the damage is significant, then this simply needs to be addressed – you cannot wait till spring.
It all depends on what work needs to be done, but here follows some general tips for winter road maintenance:
Pay Attention to the Temperature
Not every day in any given winter is just as cold. And when you are mixing concrete or asphalt, there is an optimal temperature for this if it is to set properly. Accordingly, mix the cement/asphalt at the right temperature (the warmest part of the daytime) and use heaters or coverings if it is simply too cold.
If it is raining, snowing, or hailing, you should either wait until it stops or protect the paved surface from this precipitation with coverings.
Consider Cold Mix Cement or Asphalt
There is actually such a thing as cold-mix asphalt and cement, specifically designed to set better during cold weather. If conditions are particularly severe, these types of products are well-worth seeking out.
Ultimately, winter road work is challenging, and general repairs should be carried out in spring. However, when the job has to be done, it has to be done.