How Does the Summer Heat Affect Asphalt?

Everything in the way of the sun’s rays will interact with it in some way. Lighter colored surfaces will reflect the heat, while darker colored surfaces, such as asphalt, will absorb the heat. Heat absorption causes the surface temperature of asphalt to rise, and you may even be able to see heat waves above the surface. Over time, heat absorption can lead to soft spots in your asphalt paving, leading to even more significant problems down the road. 

Types of Asphalt Damage Caused by Heat

Some of these problems can include:

  • Asphalt Raveling: Asphalt raveling begins with surface damage and permeates the asphalt aggregate and soil. It can happen when heat causes inadequate compaction or the binder and aggregate separate. 
  • Asphalt Tracking: Asphalt is meant to handle high temperatures, but prolonged exposure to heat and sun can still cause soft spots. Asphalt tracking occurs when small amounts of asphalt are so hot that they adhere to tires, shoes, and anything else that touches its surface.
  • Asphalt Cracking: Without proper maintenance and installation, newer asphalt can crack under extreme heat and pressure. Asphalt cracking is most common in high-traffic areas.
  • Asphalt Oxidation: UV rays can break down the binding oils on the surface of asphalt and lead to oxidation. Oxidation usually precedes raveling and cracking. 

Prevent Asphalt Heat Damage with Maintenance

You can’t stop the sun from shining, but you can learn to prolong the life of your asphalt pavement with proper maintenance. Asphalt maintenance is multi-faceted, and it is best left to the experts. 

If you notice cracks and other signs of damage, act quickly to repair them before they can spread. Sealcoating is among the best ways to protect your asphalt from damage year-round, including heat damage. Your paving contractor will be able to recommend the best asphalt maintenance plan for you, but generally, you can expect to apply a fresh seal coat every 2-3 years. 

If you feel that your asphalt is too far gone to save, your paving contractor will be able to recommend the best methods of repair and replacement. Newer asphalt mixes are made with solar reflectance index (SRI) in mind. The higher the SRI of your chosen asphalt, the better it will be able to withstand the summer’s heat. 

For more information about asphalt milling, paving, and repairs, get in touch with our team today.