Common asphalt cracks that proper maintenance can avoid
Pouring high-quality asphalt ensures that your driveway or parking lot is strong for years and even decades. However, asphalt may develop various types of cracks that can compromise the surface and lead to other issues. Most of the time, these concerns occur due to poor maintenance.
As a result, anyone who owns an asphalt driveway needs to understand these cracks and the asphalt repair procedures that can manage them. The following list includes the most common of these problems and the fixes—and preventative measures—that can minimize their impact.
When large rectangles break out across the surface of a driveway, your asphalt is suffering from block cracking. This issue occurs when the binder in the pavement cannot expand and contract properly with the weather cycles and typically occurs in asphalt that was poured too dryly. Unfortunately, this type of problem can be long-lasting because all of the pavement will be affected.
Therefore, the best way to manage this problem is to seal cracks, as they occur, to prevent moisture from making them worse. Typically, any break less than one-half inch in width should be sealed. However, larger cracks that cannot be sealed may require you to remove the affected square and to add new asphalt to the affected area. Make sure, this time, that the mixture is appropriately moist to avoid the need for further asphalt repairs.
Cracks that appear along the full length of the asphalt pavement—particularly in the direction that the asphalt was laid—are called linear cracks. These occur in the pavement when it has suffered from excessive wear and tear. Typically, driveway owners can expect to see these types of breaks beginning about 10 to 15 years after they lay their pavement, depending on its quality.
Preventing this problem requires laying high-quality joints in the pavement at the time of its installation. These joints help to minimize excessive movement and keep the pavement as strong as possible. Surface cracks should be fixed and sealed, while larger ones require removal and new asphalt application. A suitable sealant coat may also help with these asphalt repairs.
When cracks appear perpendicular to the laying direction of your asphalt, you are experiencing transverse cracking. Interestingly, these cracks have a much different cause than linear cracks. They occur when the underlying layer of the asphalt settles or is damaged due to weather or temperature changes. Poor pavers also trigger the widespread nature of this problem.
Typically, repairs for this type of problem occur on a spot basis. Removing the damaged areas usually works the best as asphalt repair experts can assess the underlying problem and ensure that it gets fixed. In many cases, completely new asphalt will need to be laid to ensure that more issues like this don’t occur in the future. Improved paver strength also helps to minimize the danger of other cracks.
Alligator cracks have the appearance of an alligator’s scaly skin and typically occur due to an excessive weight being placed on the asphalt. The worst thing about alligator cracking is that it tends to get worse as it spreads across the surface of the pavement and typically leads to widespread cracks across a whole driveway or parking lot. In some instances, it may lead to linear cracks and other issues.
Try to keep heavy objects from sitting too long on asphalt to avoid this issue. Only sustained and consistent pressure triggers this issue, though, so most types of driveways are probably safe if the owner parks cars in a garage. Fixing alligator cracking requires adding a full-depth patch to the surface that strengthens and stabilizes the area and prevents further cracking issues.
Joint reflection cracking
These cracks occur in a particular and unique circumstance: asphalt application over a very hard surface. For example, individuals may decide to pour asphalt over an existing concrete driveway simply to save time. This is usually not a good idea because the rigid nature of the underlying material will make it more difficult for the asphalt to react to temperature changes.
As a result, cracks over the asphalt joints appear and produce a distinct—and unattractive—look. Like many types of asphalt repairs, minor cracks must be fixed by adding crack sealing over the affected surface. These seals also help to prevent moisture from entering the subgrade and triggering more problems. Complete crack removal may be necessary in some cases, so be prepared for it.
The edges of an asphalt driveway are typically the most commonly cracked areas. These spots, though well-supported beneath, are often ignored by driveway owners. In some instances, they experience high levels of strain due to improper weight management. In other cases, edge cracks occur because vegetation—including grass and tree roots—are allowed to spread beneath the area.
Avoiding edge cracks requires cleaning away grass and tree roots that could affect the pavement. Owners should also avoid placing heavy objects on the edges of their driveways or parking lots to ensure that they don’t suffer from excessive strain. And, just as importantly, any small cracks must be immediately sealed to ensure that this minor issue doesn’t continually spread and become more serious.
Asphalt driveways require a strong and stable underlying area to avoid many types of cracks. Poorly laid paving may result in slippage between the different layers of asphalt and trigger what is known as slippage cracking. These types of breaks typically have a crescent shape or appear as tears on the surface of the pavement. Think of these areas as stretch marks to get a feel for how they look.
Unfortunately, this type of problem requires quite extensive asphalt repairs. All of the affected areas need to be removed by a professional repair expert and replaced with a partial or full-depth patch. This process helps to restore the strength and integrity of the driveway. Just as importantly, this type of patch should match the coloring of the surrounding asphalt to make the repair spot less visible.
Get help for these problems
A talented and skilled homeowner can avoid asphalt cracks by performing simple maintenance and asphalt repair procedures. However, some of these tips and tricks may be too hard or complex for amateurs to do on their own. In fact, DIY repairs are probably never a good idea.
Therefore, you should contact us if your driveway experiences any of these problems after it’s been laid. Our repair experts will restore your driveway or parking lot to a stronger and more stable state and will work hard to ensure that no more severe issues impact its surface.