Whilst most professionals who offer asphalt services agree that late spring and summer is the ideal time to lay and repair the pavement, situations do arise throughout other times of the year that could require immediate attention. Is it best to put issues that arise during autumn or even winter off until a warmer time of the year? Or is there any way that they can be rectified whilst the weather is cold and without sacrificing on the quality?
The first thing to note is that laying in colder temperatures introduces challenges that are simply not present when the weather is warmer. The main challenge is getting the asphalt to the site, laid and compacted before it cools down. It will require an organised service with the proper equipment to deliver a high quality job during autumn or even early winter – many smaller crews are simply not equipped or fast enough to achieve good results.
So, what are the prime conditions for laying?
Any asphalt service will tell you that hot mix requires a certain temperature in order to compact and set properly (generally, it needs to remain somewhere between 79 and 135 degrees Celsius). Colder weather may shorten the time span available for laying, but the quality can still be retained as long as the mix remains within these temperatures. The reason spring and summer are popular for laying is that the warmer weather allows the mix to remain pliable for longer.
Why not start with a hotter mix?
Because the asphalt must remain within certain temperatures for the duration of the installation, it does make sense to start with a hotter mix when the weather is cooler. This solution, however, presents several problems – creating the mix at hotter temperatures will use more fuel and reduce production at the asphalt plant (which will lead to higher costs for the service and, therefore, you). It will also present a greater risk of failure, as the composition will be changed.
Will transportation affect the temperature?
In short, the answer is yes. Transporting the asphalt from the plant to the site will give the mix time to cool down. Some asphalt services will supply tarps or wrap during cooler weather to help prevent it from cooling too much, but it is important to check what your chosen service does. If you live in a rural area or are unable to find a service who will take the necessary precautions with your mix, it is definitely recommended that you put of laying for now.
What about repairs? Are they okay?
Whilst not recommended for the winter, it may be possible to repair asphalt during autumn using infrared repairs. The service will typically haul the mix to your site in a hotbox, which will keep it within the correct temperatures, and they will heat the area to be repaired to assist with the bonding process. It may take longer to heat the damaged area in cooler weather, but it is possible; adding hot asphalt to a hot surface takes temperature out of the equation.
At the end of the day, it is also important to remember that who you hire will also make a difference. If you have employed an experienced asphalt services who work with the proper equipment and are no strangers to laying when the weather isn’t ideal, you should be okay. And before you think about tackling a pavement project yourself during autumn or winter, just remember that it will be unstable if laid improperly, resulting in problems down the track.