Asphalt is a very durable material that you can use for a variety of surfaces, from roadways to parking lots and even home driveways and walkways. While it is durable and should last for years, you also need to understand how to keep it in good shape, as it's obviously not indestructible. Understanding the most common causes of asphalt damage can ensure that you avoid these as much as possible and that you are prepared for maintenance and repairs as necessary. Note the following.
1. Dump trucks
Heavy trucks can push down on the soft material of asphalt and leave marks and trenches, but dump trucks are a special danger for asphalt. This is because the rocking motion of the dump being unloaded can cause stress that asphalt isn't usually meant to withstand. In turn, the material can start to crack or separate. It can be good to try to keep a dump truck moving or to keep it from rocking as much as possible when on an asphalt surface so that no one area suffers the brunt of this stress and begins cracking.
2. Petroleum spills
Asphalt is a petroleum-based product, so petroleum spills can seep into the asphalt and begin to break up the material. While many types of oils will simply stain concrete, they can be more likely to break down the material that is used to make asphalt. The cement bond that keeps these materials in place can dissolve and in turn, the asphalt begins to break or come apart in the area of the spill.
3. Freezing and thawing
The petroleum material that is used to make asphalt can make it more water resistant than other materials, but if water should get under the surface of asphalt, the freezing and thawing process that water goes through can put pressure on the asphalt and cause it to crack. As water expands during freezing and then contracts as it thaws, this can cause the asphalt to heave and contract as well. In turn, cracks and breaks are likely to form in areas of water spills.
While asphalt is not brittle like concrete, cracks can still spread on its surface. These cracks can allow in water, which causes the damage mentioned above, or it can allow for oxidation, which also can result in cracking. Cracks can also allow petroleum spills to more deeply penetrate the asphalt, causing greater failure. To prolong the life of your asphalt construction, it's vital that you address cracks, even smaller cracks on the surface alone, as quickly as possible.