Can Asphalt Catch Fire? [Guide for Homeowners]

December 15, 2022

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Can asphalt catch fire? This is a vital question for anyone considering asphalt repair or new asphalt installation, especially during the summer months. Also, property owners should avoid creating fire risks around any flammable surfaces and materials.

Asphalt is flammable because it contains petroleum and can potentially catch fire. The material can also become too hot to handle! However, this doesn’t mean that you must put off summertime repairs. Instead, consider some added details about asphalt’s flashpoint and flammability so that you can take the needed precautions.

Also, remember to discuss your concerns with an asphalt paving contractor near you as needed. Professional crews ensure safe installations, guaranteed to last. In turn, you can protect yourself and your property by investing in their services rather than attempting DIY asphalt fixes!

At What Temperature Can Asphalt Catch Fire?

First, note that asphalt might catch fire at about 900 degrees Fahrenheit but boils at around 600 degrees. In turn, that asphalt needs to be extremely hot to combust! Also, note that the ground around fires is often cooler than asphalt. In turn, even wildfires don’t typically last long enough to burn away asphalt.

However, this doesn’t mean that asphalt doesn’t create risks around high temperatures. First, note that brush, trees, and other materials feed fires around asphalt no matter how cool the ground is. Second, asphalt releases toxic chemicals as it burns or melts. As a result, anyone in the vicinity might suffer throat, lung, eye, and nose irritation around melting asphalt.

Additionally, high temperatures around asphalt also risk damaging the material. As asphalt softens, this can mean cracks, chips, and potholes. Those cracks hold water which means even more damage! Also, parking a vehicle on softened asphalt can risk potholes, grooves, and other costly issues.

home with new asphalt paving

How Can Asphalt Catch Fire?

Hot summer days aren’t likely to risk asphalt catching fire. However, you might note other risks to asphalt getting overly hot or even melting. One risk is a vehicle fire while it’s parked on asphalt! Two, if flammable fluids covering asphalt combust, this also risks the asphalt catching fire.

Also, homeowners should avoid putting fire pits and outdoor kitchens on asphalt surfaces or creating bonfires nearby. If these should combust or burn out of control, this also risks asphalt combusting. Additionally, property owners should use caution about setting off fireworks near asphalt pavement.

How Can You Protect Asphalt From Melting?

Avoiding fire risks means protecting asphalt from combustion and melting. First, avoid open fires on your property, as said. Second, ensure you’ve taken all steps to prevent house fires or fires on your commercial lot. For instance, boilers and furnaces need annual checking to ensure they’re in good working order.

Also, business owners should ensure their machinery is in good working order and follow all safety precautions. This can include proper venting throughout your structure, keeping moving parts oiled, so they don’t overheat, and not overusing machinery.

At home, if you must have a firepit around the asphalt, create a concrete or brick surround. This reduces the risk of the fire reaching asphalt if it should get out of control. Also, avoid parking vehicles on asphalt if they leak oil or other fluids. These might combust under extreme heat or hold enough heat to damage asphalt.

Property owners should also occasionally hose down asphalt, especially on overly hot or sunny days. Spraying asphalt with water keeps it cool and prevents it from becoming brittle and cracking. Hosing down asphalt also helps remove damaging oil, grit, and other residues.

Lastly, asphalt needs regular sealing, just like any other paving material. In most cases, you might seal the asphalt every few years. This sealing provides protection against harsh sunlight and extreme weather conditions, protecting asphalt from long-term damage.

How Hot is Asphalt on a 100 Degree Day?

Asphalt can reach temperatures of up to 150 degrees on a one-hundred-degree hot day. This can cause severe burns, especially if you are walking barefoot or wearing shorts, and have detrimental effects if you're walking your dog as well. The best way to avoid getting burned is to stay aware of the temperature of the asphalt and to take precautions when it is hot outside.

Should You Install Asphalt During Summer Months?

First, asphalt is usually mixed in a drum onsite, usually at around 280 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature allows a contractor to mix it thoroughly and keeps it pliable during installation. Also, asphalt might not set correctly during colder weather, usually below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Most contractors recommend installing asphalt during the spring or summer months. This ensures proper weather conditions for keeping asphalt pliable during installation. However, asphalt can lose its binding if it reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the asphalt also holds heat, a contractor might recommend putting off the installation in extreme temperatures.

can asphalt catch fire

How Do You Make Asphalt Repairs?

Knowing a bit more about asphalt repairs can help you make the best decision for your property. Also, you’ll know what to expect from an asphalt repair contractor for your needed fixes.

Asphalt patching

As the name implies, asphalt patching adds a new mixture to small cracks and chips along existing asphalt. Next, a contractor tamps or presses this material into the cracks, allowing it to dry and set. Patching is effective for minor fixes but not larger potholes and other such damage.

Resurfacing

Resurfacing adds a new asphalt layer to the existing asphalt. Also called chip sealing or tar and chip, a contractor starts this process by adding new liquid asphalt. Next, they add aggregate to this new liquid layer. Lastly, brushes spread out the aggregate quickly and push it into the liquid asphalt.

This layer dries and cures over existing asphalt, patching cracks and damaged areas. The new asphalt also creates an improved appearance, ready for striping. Also, you can drive on this fresh layer within a day, making it a quick and efficient repair method! Asphalt resurfacing costs less than a complete asphalt driveway replacement.

Asphalt replacement

Severely damaged asphalt needs complete replacement, as it typically cannot hold a new layer effectively. For this process, your contractor starts by tearing up the existing asphalt. Next, they might add a new aggregate layer over the soil. This aggregate keeps asphalt firm and prevents it from sinking into the ground.

Next, a contractor spreads fresh asphalt over that aggregate and uses a heavy-duty roller to press it into place. The asphalt then usually needs just a day or two to cure before you drive on it or add stripes and other markings.

Can You Recycle Asphalt?

Eco-conscious property owners might ask if you can recycle asphalt. The quick answer is yes, asphalt is very recyclable and can be used often. In turn, you can keep old asphalt out of landfills and reduce the need for new materials.

Many recycling contractors use pulverization for asphalt. This process grinds up the asphalt or pulverizes it into virtual dust. In many cases, they might use this process before installing new asphalt. The pulverized material helps create that base needed for new asphalt installation.

Pulverization is very useful as it doesn’t require a team to remove the asphalt for recycling. Also, it reduces the need for new aggregate added for a usable base. This also reduces the time needed for new asphalt installation, skipping the step of adding new aggregate.

Ask your contractor about asphalt pulverization if you’re planning new asphalt installation. This process can save money and keep that existing asphalt out of the trash! It can also mean a faster installation process overall.

Which Is Better, Asphalt or Concrete?

There is no “better” choice regarding asphalt or concrete, as both offer advantages and disadvantages. However, reviewing these can help you decide which is better for your property. Also, don’t hesitate to ask your pavement contractor their opinion! They can also offer advice on which might work better for your needs.

  • Asphalt is typically cheaper than concrete, usually costing around $2 to $5 per square foot. On the other hand, expect to pay around $3 to $10 per square foot for concrete installation.
  • Dark asphalt means less risk of glare especially in very sunny areas. Also, darker asphalt provides an excellent background for parking lines and other markings.
  • Since dark colors hold heat, asphalt can help melt snow and ice more quickly than concrete. Additionally, concrete often gets brittle in cold weather, risking cracks and other damage.
  • Concrete is more susceptible to damage caused by sharp snowplow blades. Snow clearing salt also risks damaging concrete more readily than asphalt.
  • Soft, porous asphalt absorbs sound more readily than concrete. In turn, asphalt installation can mean a quieter outdoor environment than concrete.
  • The bumpier face of asphalt can also mean better traction than concrete. Consequently, asphalt can reduce risks for traffic accidents especially during inclement weather.
  • Concrete typically lasts longer than asphalt. With regular maintenance, concrete might last 50 years while asphalt might need replacing after 20 years.
  • Some homeowners might see asphalt as being a bit industrial. Also, contractors can stamp and stain concrete, to mimic stone and other materials.
  • You can typically drive on fresh asphalt after just a day or two. However, concrete usually requires several days if not weeks to cure properly.
asphalt maintenance

How Do You Maintain Asphalt?

Property owners might take a few simple steps to maintain asphalt properly over the years. These steps can keep asphalt strong and in good condition and prolong its overall lifespan.

  • Fix asphalt damage quickly, especially potholes and large cracks. Those openings collect moisture and oil that break down asphalt binders. In turn, the longer you ignore damage, the worse it gets! As a result, small cracks might then become major issues and costly repairs.
  • Sealants provide added protection against water damage, sun exposure, and the like. Ask your contractor how often you might seal asphalt on your property. He or she can recommend the best schedule for ensuring your asphalt stays in good condition.
  • Don’t overlook needed cleaning for your asphalt! Regular power washing removes oils and other corrosive fluids and chemicals. Also, spraying down asphalt during hot summer days keeps it cool. These steps prevent premature damage and keeps asphalt in good condition.
  • Avoiding parking overly heavy vehicles and machinery on asphalt, especially during summer months. Heavy vehicles can cause indentations on soft asphalt, risking potholes.
  • Also, don’t move the wheels of vehicles sitting in one position. That motion also risks indentations and potholes in soft asphalt.
  • Lastly, invest in chip sealants or tar and chip fixes when needed. These protect the asphalt material from added damage and prolong the base asphalt lifespan. Your contractor can offer added advice for keeping asphalt in good condition.

When Should You Replace Asphalt?

Cracks and potholes don’t necessarily indicate the need for new asphalt installation. In many cases, a property owner can patch over minor damage with store bought patching kits. Also, an asphalt contractor can fix larger potholes or replace chunks of broken asphalt without replacing the pavement.

However, over time asphalt binders break down so that the material needs replacement. If you’re not sure about replacement versus repair, consider the material’s age. After 15 or 20 years, it’s probably time to replace the asphalt! At that time, you might face making repair after repair over the years.

Additionally, note if your needs have changed over the years. As an example, have you bought a large trailer or other equipment you now park on the pavement? If so, it might be time for thicker material more capable of holding up that weight.

Moreover, shifting soil conditions under that asphalt can risk it moving and then cracking or creating potholes. If you don’t address those conditions, you’ll face repeated damage and needed fixes! Tearing out the existing asphalt allows you to address poor drainage and other such issues. Also, a contractor can then install fresh aggregate, for a more stable foundation.

Dallas Asphalt Paving is happy to help answer the question, can asphalt catch fire? Hopefully, it’s helpful to anyone with asphalt on their property. If you’re in need of paving services, call our Dallas asphalt paving contractors. We provide expert, affordable asphalt repair and new asphalt installation. All work starts with a FREE consultation and price quote. We also stand behind every project with a written guarantee. To find out more, give us a call today.

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