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5 Types Of Asphalt Cracking & How To Handle Them

Staff / 08-02-2022

Asphalt is one of the top choices for paved assets. However, asphalt does deteriorate over time due to environmental factors and traffic. Therefore, when you invest in asphalt roads and parking lots, you should also create a yearly maintenance plan to preserve them. This enables you to minimize loss, save money over time and extend the lifespan of your paved assets.  When you see these types of cracks on your pavement, action should be taken.

Five Common Types of Asphalt Cracking

  1. Alligator/Fatigue Cracking: In the wheel path of drive lanes, there may be areas that literally look like an alligator’s back. These are fatigue cracks that indicate pavement failure. They should be taken care of immediately. When such cracks are appropriately filled, this will help to prevent moisture penetration and the breakdown of the subbase, even in high-traffic areas. 
  2. Edge Cracking: Edge cracks develop along the outer edge of a parking lot or access road. These cracks generally form because of a lack of support at the pavement edge or poor drainage conditions. Traffic and the freeze/thaw cycle accelerate damage and weaken the subbase in affected areas. This type of damage will expand unless edge cracks are repaired. Drainage should be assessed in the same areas. 
  3. Linear Cracking: The linear joints between adjoining sections of paving are the weakest points in your asphalt. These joints will deteriorate so it is extremely important to fill and seal them as they occur. The recommended solution is to use a heated ( 400-degree) tar compound that is poured into the crack, sealing it and preventing water from entering and causing deterioration.
  4. Block Cracking: As asphalt ages, exposure to environmental conditions and temperature changes cause it to become less flexible. As it hardens and shrinks, cracks may develop in a pattern of large, interconnected rectangles. Crack filling and sealing can fix the cracks that are close to the surface. Deeper cracks may result in structural damage to the asphalt pavement and may need more intensive repairs, including replacement. 
  5. Slippage Cracking: Crescent-shaped in appearance, slippage cracks can be caused by a few factors. Poor adhesion or bond between the surface layer of asphalt and the sub-surface below may be due to substances (ex: water, oil, rubber or dirt) being in between the layers, the use of  a substandard asphalt mix during construction, or improper installation methods. To repair slippage cracks, the affected surface layer is removed to determine the extent of the compromised area and patched as needed.

Causes of Asphalt Deterioration

As it ages, asphalt is exposed to ongoing environmental stresses and traffic. Several factors can contribute to cracking and deterioration over time, including:

  •       Freeze/Thaw Cycle
  •       Moisture Penetration
  •       Drainage Issues
  •       Heavy Traffic
  •       Sun and Extreme Heat 
  •       Improper Installation 

Timely Repair and Maintenance Manage Asphalt Deterioration                                   

To protect your paved assets,  it’s best to identify and fix any problem areas as they arise and before they lead to pavement failure. In four-season environments, moisture can freeze and expand cracks, allowing water to erode the subbase and cause failures. When subbase and pavement failures are identified, they should be fixed immediately to prevent further damage and liabilities. “When cracks are filled as they occur and stress joints are sealed every year or two, it can extend the life of your pavement because it prevents water or moisture from being able to penetrate.” - James Glotfelty, Sales Manager, Tibbs Paving 

Your paved assets are significant investments. Tibbs Paving can help you preserve such assets and save money long-term. Regular inspections and addressing any signs of damage in a timely manner are your best protection.

For 25+ years, Tibbs Paving has been providing quality, cost-effective repair and maintenance. We know how to help you protect your paved assets. Contact us for a site visit and consultation.


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