There are two of nature’s elements that can shorten the life of asphalt, and that is sunlight and heat. Both intense UV rays and heat can lead to a number of different problems and can damage the asphalt. It is important to protect and maintain asphalt from the summer heat as well as the constant light from the sun. To better understand how heat and sunlight affects asphalt, Andersen Asphalt & Striping will cover some of the common damages that are caused by heat and sunlight.
Oxidation of Asphalt
Asphalt oxidation is a type of asphalt deterioration where UV rays from the sun causes a chemical reaction. The light oil mixes with the heavier oil within the asphalt, which in turn will weaken the binding oils in the asphalt. When the binding oil weakens, the asphalt’s structure is also compromised. Asphalt oxidation is a direct result of the UV rays and heat from the sun. Oxidation is when the asphalt loses less elastic and the heavier oil will cause them to brittle. Oxidation often results in cracks, the asphalt can buckle and there are other types of asphalt failure as well. Often you can see oxidation occurring. Fresh asphalt looks black and will then lighten to a pale gray color as it oxidizes.
Solar radiation can cause the asphalt to oxidize and cause cracks. However, cracks can also develop due to thermal changes, mostly from extreme heat. When the outside temperatures reach around 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, the asphalt will expand. When the temperatures drop suddenly at night, the asphalt will contract. The constant expanding and contracting causes stress and leads to cracks in the asphalt. Asphalt fatigue cracks as a result of high temperatures most often occurs in old asphalt. However, it can occur in new asphalt with a bad mix.
Asphalt raveling occurs when too much moisture seeps into the cracks in the asphalt and then causes a binder cohesion to occur within the asphalt. Once the asphalt has been compromised due to the combination of heat and moisture, the asphalt will begin to ravel. The asphalt will begin to break apart into tiny pieces and bigger and deeper cracks will occur. Raveling also tends to lead towards potholes.
The last type of asphalt damage is caused by heat is called tracking. Asphalt is designed to reflect some of the heat from the sun. However, because the asphalt is black in color, asphalt will absorb a lot of heat. The surface temperature of the asphalt can get very high and cause the asphalt to soften. Small specks of asphalt can adhere to tires and even shoes. The asphalt can develop grooves from heavy vehicles driving across the asphalt.
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Sunlight, heat and moisture can ruin asphalt, which is why it is important to properly maintain and care for your asphalt. With routine maintenance, sealcoating and timely repairs, you can extend the life of your asphalt. For asphalt installation, repairs, maintenance and striping services, contact Andersen Asphalt & Striping. You can schedule our services today.