The oxidation process turns your asphalt from flexible to brittle over time. In addition, outside influences can both cause damage and increase the amount of oxygen taken in. This in turn makes the asphalt even more breakable. It can become a vicious cycle of deterioration.
When Does Oxidation Start?
Oxidation starts immediately, but it's a glacially slow process. By limiting the outside influences that can accelerate the process, you can keep asphalt serviceable for many years. The best thing you can do is to sealcoat it early in its life. Don't wait until the oxidation process becomes serious, because then it's too late.
Some of the variables that can accelerate oxidation include the following:
Weight – Fluctuating stress isn't good for asphalt over time. This is less of an issue if you have something like an asphalt driveway or walkway. If you have something like an asphalt parking lot, then weight stress can become an issue.
Does your lot regularly allow large trucks and other really heavy or commercial vehicles? If heavy vehicle traffic occurs frequently it can cause a lot of wear on your asphalt and eventually damage it. As the weight causes damage, it also increases the oxidation process in the stressed asphalt.
Eventually, the oxidation will make the asphalt more brittle while the weight stress will break it, and the process repeats. This is how you can end up with pitted, torn up, and unsightly asphalt on your property. If possible, you should consider designating specific areas for commercial vehicles.
UV Rays / Sunlight – When exposed to sunlight, the oxidation process swings into full gear. Ultraviolet light will make the bonds that hold your asphalt together break down faster. When the asphalt absorbs light energy, the process of oxidation receives a boost. The best thing you can do is to keep your asphalt shaded, but that's not always possible. Once again, sealcoating goes a long way towards helping with this.
Various other things can break up your asphalt, such as tree roots and weather damage. But the oxidation process is something you can actually do something about.
You should speak to a professional asphalt paving contractor to see if it's too late to implement some sealcoating. If it is, then they can resurface, or repave it for you. From there they can apply the sealcoating and you'll be good to go. For more help with asphalt, contact a company like Armour Pavement Inc.