Salt is sprinkled onto paved surfaces whenever the snow starts falling in winter, where it proceeds to serve two purposes. First, it lowers the freezing point of water, thus inhibiting the formation of ice. Second, it provides much-needed traction, thus making it that much easier for people to maintain sound footing even on the slipperiest of surfaces. Combined, these two characteristics lower the chances of serious accidents, which are all too common in the coldest season of the year.
While Salting is Important, a Few Problems Can be Caused by This Common Practice:
With that said, it is important to note that salt can cause serious problems for paved surfaces, because of how it interacts with their materials. First and foremost, while salt has little effect on asphalt that is in excellent condition, the same cannot be said for asphalt that has cracks, crevices, and other faults in them. This is because water will seep into the asphalt through these faults, where it can expand when it freezes, thus causing them to become worse and worse with each repetition of the freeze-thaw cycle. Said process can happen with normal water, but when salt has been added to the mix, it can continue happening at lower temperatures, thus increasing the total amount of damage that is done over the course of an entire season. As a result, while salt is not harmful for asphalt on its own, it can speed up the deterioration of damaged asphalt when mixed into melted snow.
Second, salt has little effect on asphalt, but the same cannot be said for concrete. In this case, the problem is because salt is acidic in nature, meaning that it can break down the bonds that hold concrete together with sufficient exposure. Something that is particularly problematic, because concrete starts freezing at higher temperatures than its counterpart and will need more salt.
Some paved surfaces are more susceptible to salt than others for a number of reasons that are unrelated to their material. For example, bridges are notorious for suffering more from prolonged exposure to salt, because of their colder temperatures, their increased traffic, and their steel components that can become corroded through prolonged contact. Since some of these factors are applicable to some business premises, business owners should make sure to exercise increased care and caution when it comes to using salt for their wintertime preparations.
How Can Businesses Prevent Such Problems?
There are other deicers out there other than salt, but the best thing to do is to repair any cracks before the snow hits.
Interested in learning more about caring for paved surfaces, as well as commercial services related to paved surfaces? Please contact us to speak with a member of our team, who will have all of the answers needed for business owners to make an informed decision.