Winter is a very harsh time of year for asphalt pavement maintenance. The extremely cold temperatures, excessive precipitation, salting, and strain from winter tires can cause your asphalt to severely deteriorate and crack under the pressure. Cracks need to be repaired right away or else they can expand and become costlier in the long run. Perhaps the hardest part of repairing cracks in your pavement is identifying the exact cause and type of crack in your asphalt pavement.
7 Types of Cracks in Asphalt Pavement
If you notice that your asphalt pavement is succumbing to the various damaging elements of the winter season, then you may also notice that not all of the cracks in your pavement look the same. That’s because they’re not. There are actually a variety of cracking patterns that result from different types of pavement failures.
One of the most common types of asphalt cracking is fatigued cracking, also commonly known as alligator cracking. Alligator cracks are aptly named because they resemble the dry and fractured skin of their namesakes. There are a few culprits that are to blame for this type of cracking: use of insufficient foundational materials, a meager drainage system, and harsh weather conditions. The best way to fix alligator cracking is with a full depth patch-up.
Block cracking is exactly what it sounds like: giant rectangular or square-shaped cracks in the pavement. This is typically caused by a few different factors. Either the aggregate was too dry when it was originally applied, or it dried out too much over time and needs to be replaced. Low or freezing temperatures can also be to blame because they cause significant shrinkage in the asphalt aggregate. Block cracking can easily be fixed with a thin overlay.
Edge Cracking in Asphalt
Edge cracks appear at the very edge of a road or parking lot, next to the curb as a result of unstable drainage and lateral support, strong frost heaves, and insufficient setting time for the aggregate. All of these elements are further facilitated if the base of the asphalt is weak from the get-go. The solution to this problem is to clear out all overgrowth and debris that is located at the edge of the asphalt pavement and fill the cracks with asphalt sealant. Of course, drainage in your parking lot should also be brought up to code and improved.
Longitudinal Cracks in Asphalt Pavement
Longitudinal cracking in asphalt is typically a signifier of subpar joint structure of traffic lanes that are next to each other. Cold and dry weather conditions can often exacerbate the issue, causing linear cracks to form. They can easily be repaired with sealant.
These are perpendicular cracks that occur due to a combination of things, mainly extremely low temperatures and overuse of the pavement. Transverse cracking usually happens on main roads or in high-traffic parking lots and plazas. Cold temperatures cause the aggregate to shrink, which starts the cracking process and the weight of all the vehicles constantly driving on the pavement widens the cracks more.
Reflective Cracking in Asphalt
Reflective cracking usually signifies that there is a much deeper issue below the surface. These are cracks that extend from the foundational layer of the asphalt and make their way to the top layer. Once again, this can easily be fixed with crack filler.
Slippage cracks have a crescent shape and they should be dealt with immediately because they can quickly turn into large and dangerous potholes, especially if your parking lot has a constant high volume of traffic. This type of cracking usually occurs if the asphalt aggregate has a high sand content, which prevents it from aptly bonding to the other materials in the composite. Depending on the size of the crack and the extent of the damage, you can either use partial or full-depth patch-up to correct this issue.