Water can be one of the most damaging elements to asphalt pavement because it has a lot of adverse effects on pavement performance. Moisture damage decreases strength and durability of asphalt mixtures due to the presence of water. This usually occurs when the bond between the asphalt cement and the fine coarse aggregate is lost. As moisture penetrates this weakness, the damages and pavement deterioration speeds up.
Some moisture damages and distresses that can occur in asphalt pavement are:
- Stripping – debonding of aggregate and binder
- Rutting – surface depression alone wheel path
- Bleeding – formation of asphalt binder film on pavement
- Failures – loss of adhesive between layers and cohesion in aggregate and binder
When cracks form in asphalt, it allows for water to seep under the surface, which is damaging to the base beneath. Each time it rains and this happens, the weakness, damages, and pavement deterioration rate increases. This damage is often not visible from above, but the damages being caused are serious and can be costly to fix. If your leave your pavement vulnerable to water penetration for too long, potholes and other large structural deterioration can occur.
The best way to protect your pavement from water damage is to practice regular maintenance like:
At the present time as the U.S. continues to experience climate change, these regular maintenance are particularly important. Climate change increases our risk of experiencing both heavy rains, and extreme droughts. If the cracks and flaws in your pavement are left unkept, the mass amount of water from these large storms can do serious damage to your pavement’s base layer and overall structure.
Additionally, these heavy downpours can lead to flooding, which means more opportunities for outstanding water to lay on your pavement for long periods of time. Even if your pavement is well maintained, this sort of flooding can be damaging to your asphalt, especially if not properly installed.
Things to consider when installing pavement (and reasons to hire a professional):
- Mix design – the mix design should be capable of handling environmental conditions, which includes exposure to water. Materials used to produce the mix and the gradation should be appropriate for the situation.
- Aggregate – Can affect the vulnerability of the pavement to moisture. The size and extent of the pores may cause water absorption. The chemical composition of the aggregate also has an effect on whether it is likely to bond to water or not.
- Gradation – This has a significant impact on the pavement dealing with water. A dense-grade mix should be pretty impermeable to water if proper compaction occurs. Whereas, an open-grade mix is permeable to water. In cases with an application of open-grade mix, proper drainage is extremely important.
- Additives – The impact of additives in an asphalt mix depends on the combination of ingredients used in the mix.
- Structure – A pavement’s structural design should be capable of dealing with moisture properly. This can depend on the correct density, slope, drainage, bases layers, etc.
When hiring a professional paving company, they have extensive training to understand the proper techniques, materials, and calculations for your particular project to ensure optimal water permeation protection. If the pavement install and structure application is incorrect (the base layer), the pavement’s lifespan will be significantly lower than it should be, causing premature pavement deterioration.
Paving is a big investment and an important project, and outside elements like water can really damage asphalt. Because of this, having a professional to install and maintain your pavement, like those at EastCoat Pavement Services, is important in ensuring you get the most out of your pavement investment! Contact us today for your free paving consultation!