How Winter Impacts Salt Lake City Parking Lots
Winter weather is not easy on anyone, and that includes property managers. You do your best to keep your property in good repair, and then winter comes along and challenges essentially every part of it. What about the parking lot? Asphalt is our best option for parking lots and pavement, but it is not invulnerable to winter. In fact, the freeze-thaw cycle is one of the most damaging things that happen to our parking lots.
Ice and How to Handle It
Ice is one of the worst things for a parking lot to come into contact with. The freeze-thaw cycle damages asphalt and makes small vulnerabilities in it much worse. What happens is that water enters the small crack or holes in the asphalt. When it freezes into ice, it expands by roughly nine percent, pushing the asphalt further open.
Depending on the weather, ice can thaw and refreeze several times per day. This is more likely in fall and late winter, when temperatures may be freezing at night but above freezing during the day. Direct exposure to sunlight or salt, or deicing chemicals can also melt ice, only for the water to seep into the cracks and then refreeze later.
You can prevent the damage from the freeze-thaw cycles in a few ways:
- Seal the asphalt so that there are no small cracks for water to get into
- Repair any cracks or holes in the asphalt, no matter how small, before winter
- Reduce your usage of salt and deicing chemicals–unless doing so makes your lot less safe
Snow and How to Handle It
Direct contact with the snow is also not great for your asphalt. When wet, your asphalt slowly loses the oils that allow it to be flexible and functional. As asphalt ages, it naturally loses some of this oil. The parking lots where you find crumbling asphalt that can no longer hold together have lost all of their natural oils.
Snow contact will also make this process a little faster. You want to plow snow up as soon as you can. And, to prevent any contact between the snow and the asphalt, you can always sealcoat your parking lot ahead of time. Using infrared repairs for your asphalt can also help mix natural oils back into the spot that is being repaired, which helps prevent future issues there and helps to lengthen the service life of your overall lot.
When you use a snow removal company, make sure that the drivers know to lift the blades of the plow enough to avoid scraping your parking lot.
Potential Issue: Frost Heaves
Frost heaves won’t happen in properly installed and maintained parking lots, but they are a winter issue that those with less-than-ideal lots need to worry about. If you have a major crack, gap or hole in your lot that allows water to leak into the base layer of your parking lot, then a frost heave can happen. They are made more likely in lots with drainage issues as these will allow more water into the sublayer.
Over winter, water that has leaked into this space freezes and expands. If it gets too large for the sublayer, it can cause upward pressure and burst up through the parking lot. The result is it looks like a groundhog dug up through the parking lot.
Frost heaves do serious damage to your parking lot. They may also be hazards for drivers and for pedestrians. Frost heaves also need serious repair work. It’s much easier to prevent frost heave by making sure that your asphalt does not have major problems and that it drains properly after rain.
Choose EverLine Coatings for Asphalt Maintenance
Not all contractors understand the potential damage that your parking lot faces in winter, and few know what your specific lot will need to keep its condition and look better come spring. But EverLine Coatings has advanced knowledge about how to protect your property and advanced techniques to make sure it gets done properly and affordably.