Asphalt cracks are the most common type of damage that can be experienced during installation or appear over time. Aside from making the pavement look unattractive, untreated cracks can worsen over time, leading to significant problems.
From a consumer’s perspective, all asphalt cracks pose the same type of threat. As a contractor or worker, though, it’s important to understand the various types of asphalt cracks, not least because it will help determine the best way to treat them. Here’s all you need to know.
As the name suggests, edge cracking is found towards the edge of the driveway or pavement. They are characterized as long cracks that can be caused by a host of underlying issues. Examples include roots from nearby plants lifting the asphalt or drying soils that reduce the level of support offered to the asphalt layers themselves.
Edge cracking is best fixed by removing any materials that have caused the cracks to appear before resurfacing the asphalt once a solid layer has been reached.
Also known as alligator cracking due to the visual attributes, fatigue cracking occurs due to continued exposure to heavy loads, such as vehicles. Fatigue cracking commonly includes multiple small cracks in a localized area and they will worsen over time. In truth, there could be any number of cracks bunched together, compromising the look and strength of the asphalt.
Fatigue cracks are due to the asphalt layers not having the strength and durability to handle the weight. Therefore, the layer should be removed and replaced by a stronger solution.
While many types of asphalt cracking are due to natural wear and tear, reflection cracking can be attributed to poor installations. It is caused when a contractor quite literally paves over the cracks of an existing asphalt solution while leaving the underlying issues untreated. In turn, movements from the old asphalt layer will cause stress to the new surface layers.
In turn, the cracks in the new layer will reflect those of the underlying layers, causing a bigger repair job. The only solution is to treat the underlayer before installing a new one once more.
Slippage cracking is arguably the most prevalent type of asphalt damage, especially for residential driveways, but is also one of the simplest to correct. Simply break out the damaged areas before using cold patch fixes to fill the cracks. Be sure to use a stronger asphalt mix too because inferior products are a common root cause of this problem.
The most telling indication of slippage cracks is their crescent-shaped appearance, although you may also notice that moisture and debris have weakened the asphalt layers too.
Transverse cracking is often caused because the wrong type of asphalt material has been used for the climate conditions. When the asphalt grade is too hard, the combination of shrinkage and heavy loads will cause cracks to appear at areas at the centerline. This type of cracking is more common than many people would imagine.
To solve this issue, you will either have to replace the asphalt overlay or use a pavement sealant or sealcoating to remove the visual damage and prevent structural problems.