Summertime is a season of sunshine, blue skies, and warm weather, but it can be challenging on asphalt. High temperatures and prolonged exposure to sunlight can significantly impact asphalt, leading to various issues that can compromise its integrity and longevity. In this article, we will explore what summertime heat means for asphalt.
Does Asphalt Change with Temperature?
Asphalt is a viscoelastic material, which means that it exhibits both viscous and elastic properties. Asphalt becomes more fluid and less dense at high temperatures, allowing it to compact easily during construction. At low temperatures, asphalt becomes stiffer and more rigid, making it more susceptible to cracking and other forms of damage.
As temperatures rise, the asphalt surface expands due to thermal expansion, reducing its stability and durability. Conversely, as temperatures drop, asphalt contracts. This sudden contraction causes it to become more brittle and susceptible to cracking and other forms of damage.
At What Temperature Does Asphalt Get Soft?
The temperature at which asphalt becomes soft and pliable depends on several factors, including the type of asphalt, the composition of the mix, and the environmental conditions. However, asphalt typically becomes soft and pliable at temperatures above 100°F (38°C). At this temperature, the asphalt binder, which holds the aggregate particles together, becomes more fluid and less dense, allowing it to be easily molded and compacted during construction. However, if the temperature rises, the asphalt can become too soft and deformable, leading to rutting, shoving, and other forms of surface distortion.
In addition to temperature, other factors, such as the thickness of the asphalt layer, the composition of the underlying layers, and the amount and type of traffic, can also affect the performance of asphalt surfaces. Engineers and maintenance professionals carefully select the appropriate type and composition of asphalt mix and implement preventative maintenance measures to address any issues arising from temperature fluctuations to ensure the durability and longevity of asphalt surfaces.
Does Asphalt Cure Faster in Hot Weather?
Asphalt can cure faster in hot weather due to the increased temperature and higher solar radiation levels. When asphalt is placed during hot weather, the high temperatures can cause it to cool down and set more quickly, allowing it to cure faster.
The heat of the asphalt also causes the volatile oils and liquids within the asphalt mix to evaporate more quickly. This helps the asphalt to harden and set more rapidly. This proves advantageous during construction, as it allows the asphalt surface to be opened to traffic sooner, reducing the amount of disruption to road users.
If the temperature is too high, the asphalt can become too fluid and deform under traffic or equipment’s weight. This can cause ruts, depressions, and other forms of surface distortion.
To ensure proper asphalt curing, engineers and maintenance professionals carefully monitor the environmental conditions during construction and take appropriate measures to adjust the asphalt mix and construction process as needed. Proper curing is essential for the long-term durability and performance of asphalt surfaces, regardless of the weather conditions.
How to Protect Asphalt from the Summertime Heat
The behavior of asphalt at different temperatures is affected by several factors. These factors include the type and grade of asphalt used, the composition of the aggregate mix, the thickness of the asphalt layer, and the environmental conditions during placement.
To mitigate the effects of temperature on asphalt, engineers and maintenance professionals may adjust the composition of the asphalt mix. They also may add special additives to the mix to improve its resistance to temperature changes. Finally, they use advanced technologies such as infrared heating to repair and maintain asphalt surfaces. Proper maintenance and timely repairs can extend the life of asphalt surfaces and ensure their durability in the face of temperature fluctuations.
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