The Damaging Effects of the Southeast Florida Climate on Pavement
Southeast Florida is known for its warm, humid, rainy summers and cooler, drier winters. This weather is brutal on paved surfaces, putting them at risk of untimely damage when improperly maintained. Here, we look at how the heat and humidity of Southeast Florida impact paved surfaces, including the damage, repair solutions, and the importance of regular maintenance.
What is Asphalt?
Asphalt is an aggregate consisting of various binders and fillers that hold crushed stone and sand together. Petroleum-based bitumen helps prevent brittleness, and together, these components work well to provide a smooth, safe surface. However, the climate in Southeast Florida can have devastating effects on this mix of materials.
How Does Climate Impact Asphalt?
The petroleum/oil-based bitumen and binders can separate from the sand and crushed stone, causing cracking and crumbling. The combination of moisture and extreme heat also weakens asphalt, creating air gaps. More cracks develop, further breaking down the binders and causing potholes.
How Does Southeast Florida’s Heat and Humidity Damage Asphalt Surfaces?
Although Florida is fondly known as “The Sunshine State,” the frequent rain and thunderstorms in the Southeast have many wondering how such a moniker continues to stick. However, despite the frequency of rain and humidity in the summer, the showers and thunderstorms tend to pop up suddenly and end abruptly. Unfortunately, this combination of heat and moisture creates poor conditions for pavement in the following ways:
UV Rays and Sunshine
The first issue is the highly desirable Florida sunshine. The sun’s UV radiation causes “oxidation” disrupting the integrity of asphalt. The oil-based binders accelerate the oxidation process as the rays fuse with oxygen and break down the chemical bonds needed to keep asphalt strong. The UV radiation combines the different oils, which become heavier, creating a more brittle surface prone to cracks.
When you introduce brief bursts of rain into this scenario, the rain penetrates the cracks, creating more significant gaps and potholes and damaging the foundation’s integrity. In the worst-case scenario, the paved surface begins to buckle and warp, creating a dangerously uneven surface and allowing rainwater to pool in the divots and dives. This further contributes to damage.
Of course, sunshine also creates heat. This is an issue as the bitumen holding the aggregate together is a “viscoelastic” material that reacts to heat. Viscosity measures resistance to flow, and the lower the viscosity, the less friction there is. Increasing temperatures decrease viscosity, so the pavement becomes softer. As a result, the tires of passing traffic collect pieces of bitumen, further eroding the pavement’s surface.
How Can Heat and Humidity Asphalt Damage Be Prevented in Southeast Florida?
Heat and humidity damage can be prevented by applying an asphalt sealcoating to protect asphalt from deterioration. Sealcoating stops water and chemicals, such as vehicle oil leaks, from penetrating asphalt to prevent cracks and potholes. It requires application every two years to remain effective.
What Other Pavement Maintenance is Recommended for Your Southeast Florida Parking Lot?
Repairs should be made as soon as damage appears to prevent water seepage that leads to deeper fissures. This includes:
Infrared Pothole Repairs
The best repair process is hot-mix asphalt to fill holes and cracks and create a seamless repair. The loose aggregate is removed during the repair process before adding a rejuvenator to replenish lost oils. This process is ideal for repairing the following:
- Heaving pavement
- Rough surfaces
- Catch basins
Asphalt Crack Repair
Asphalt cracks can also be repaired by first removing dust, debris, and dirt and burning away vegetation. Once the surface is clear and completely dry, it maximizes bonding with the crack-filling material, creating an edge-to-edge bond for a watertight seal. No water can penetrate the asphalt, preventing further deterioration. The filled areas are ready for use within six to eight hours.
Proactive Pavement Maintenance Program
For the ultimate treatment, you can complete the repair process with sealcoating for further protection to help prevent damage. A proactive pavement maintenance program addresses pavement damage, repairs potholes and cracks, and applies a fresh sealcoat. You can also consider adding freshly painted parking lot line striping for a clean, professional look.
Why is Sealcoating and Asphalt Repair So Important in Southeast Florida?
Southeast Florida’s hot and stormy climate is hard on asphalt. Fluctuating temperatures erode asphalt, causing potholes and fractures. Your parking lot’s state significantly impacts first impressions, and potholes and cracks can compromise your business. Asphalt repair services help maintain your parking lot so it always looks its best and provide protection to prolong your asphalt’s life.
Contact us today to learn more about asphalt repair sealcoating for your Southeast Florida business!