Nothing lasts forever, and if you live anywhere near Macadam Company, Inc., then you’ve seen what a rough winter could do to a parking lot, asphalt or concrete area. Weather is just one factor that will affect your pavement’s lifecycle. Here’s some more!

Initial design and construction: Every pavement structure should be designed to withstand the traffic load that it is expected to receive over its lifetime. If the initial design and construction are flawed or deficient, (such as inadequate asphalt depth or type, or if it’s lacking in base support) the pavement will be subject to premature failure.

Environmental Factors: Cold? Wet? Extreme heat? Maybe you’ve got all three! Each environment poses its own stress on asphalt pavements. The sun is a huge culprit when it comes to eroding a paved surface, as UV rays break down an asphalt surface. Constant freezing and thawing will expand and contract a surface, creating cracking, and areas where water will penetrate, leading to potholes. A wet and humid environment tends to present weakened subgrade load-bearing capability, requiring a heavier base construction. Hot and dry climates accelerate the oxidation of the asphalt, resulting in the pavement becoming prematurely brittle.

Water Drainage: Two main water problems have an adverse impact on pavement lifespan; sub-surface water saturation, and insufficient surface drainage. The larger problem of the two is sub-surface water saturation where leaking irrigation or high water tables saturate support structure under the asphalt. This places load-bearing stress on asphalt, which leads to eventual failure of the asphalt and its base structure. These are extremely costly repairs that can be avoided through early identification and preemptive action.

Traffic Loading: Everyone knows that heavy traffic will adversely affect the life of pavement structures, especially those not designed to carry the current loading patterns. But the opposite is true, as well…too little loading can result in the asphalt becoming brittle sooner with shrinkage cracks developing throughout.

Upkeep and Maintenance: We know we’re the asphalt guys giving advice here, but it’s true: consistent maintenance can add many years to the life of an asphalt pavement surface. With a regular regimen of sealing and crack filling, you can delay the rate of oxidation and prevent water from seeping under your pavement structure. Through proactive repairs, you can prevent and minimize damage to the subsurface of a load-bearing structure. Consider taking care of stressed areas as they appear, and before they spread. To be sure that your load-bearing base is maintained to continuously support the traffic that it bears, it’s best to regularly evaluate the condition of your surfaces.