The deep freeze: What happens to asphalt in the winter months.

In Minnesota we have the old joke that there are two seasons: Winter and pothole repair. Here’s a look at what happens to asphalt through the seasons.

Summer: Extreme heat (above 100˚) can cause asphalt to expand and buckle in high traffic areas. Temps of 80˚ to 90˚ can also cause minor damage as asphalt becomes more pliable and prone to divots from debris. Water seeps through the divots, add in a little improper drainage and you’ve got moisture staying put, just waiting to freeze

Winter: Water expands up to a whopping 10% when it freezes. When the cold hits, any water that has made its home in your asphalt freezes solid, grows and flexes. This causes small cracks to become big cracks, or heaving and buckling.

Spring: Frozen water thaws out again, leaving the base material underneath asphalt soft. With the weight of vehicles passing over the asphalt, a softened base eventually gives way and viola! Potholes, cracks and heaving

So what can you do for smart protection of your asphalt investment? A little preventative maintenance can go a long way. In the summer months stay on top of crack sealing and consider an additional protective sealcoat or overlay if your asphalt is more than two years old. Regular sweeping also prevents debris from working its way into cracks and divots so they don’t become bigger issues.

Lastly, watch your asphalt during the rainy seasons to see if water is pooling significantly. This could be a sign of an inadequate drainage system or faulty catch basins. In that case, crack sealing and sealcoating will be band-aids at best. Rather that continuously repairing asphalt surfaces, attacking the underlying drainage issue directly is your best bet. Contact us any time for an evaluation.