Different Types Of Asphalt Cracks & Their Background Causes

An asphalt driveway can be a fancy addition to your home. But before investing, homeowners need to know about the different types of problems that might occur after they start using the pavement. Asphalt might develop cracks due to a variety of reasons ranging from poor quality materials, drainage problems, extreme climates, and traffic loads. Identifying the background cause and the resulting type of crack is vital for finding the right cure to the same. Today we are going to take a look at the different types of asphalt cracks and the major reasons behind their occurrence.

  • Edge Cracking

These refer to longitudinal cracks which appear within a few feet from the pavement edges. They are mostly triggered by soil drying, settlement of underlying materials, and lack of lateral support. Roots of nearby trees and shrubs can add more fuel to the fire and should be cleared away regularly. You can cater to this problem by filling the cracks with an asphalt emulsion slurry and improving the surrounding drainage. 

  • Longitudinal Cracking

The longitudinal cracks run parallel to the centreline of the pavement and are caused by several factors such as shrinkage of asphalt, improper paver operation, or poorly constructed joint. These cracks can be taken care of by resealing the surface and making proper adjustments. 

  • Slippage Cracking

The crescent shaped slippage cracks are mostly caused by deficient or low-strength asphalt mix. Another potent reason behind this is non-adhesive materials like dirt or water which accumulate between layers causing poor bonding between the pavement surface and underneath material. These cracks are usually taken care of by removing the materials surrounding the crack until you come across a well-bonded layer. Finally, patchwork is done in the upper area.

  • Block Cracking

Block cracks look like giant squares or rectangle-shaped cracks in your asphalt pavement. They are originally caused by a lack of adequate moisture during application. This type of crack is usually common in places incurring climatic extremities as the asphalt binder fails to expand or contract properly. Small cracks can be sealed in a DIY fashion whereas overlay replacement is undertaken for severe block cracking. 

  • Transverse Cracking

Just as the name suggests, these cracks run approximately perpendicular to the centerline. Such cracks might occur if the asphalt grade is too hard given the climate conditions or due to low-temperature thermal cracking. Asphalt layer shrinkage is another cause of transverse cracking. Although they are not specifically caused by traffic, the condition can be aggravated by the same. These cracks are generally repaired using sealant or replaced with a new overlay. 

  • Reflection Cracking

Often asphalt pavement overlays are placed over pavement structures and the former can develop cracks. The situation gets aggravated by movements or shifts of the old pavement. For catering to small cracks, a crack sealant can be used. In case of more severe problems, the layer might have to be replaced. 

  • Fatigue Cracking

Fatigue cracks are also popularly known as alligator cracks as they resemble the skin of these ferocious reptiles. This is mostly caused by heavy vehicles parked on the pavement. The situation can worsen by surface or base deterioration. Poor drainage is another potent factor adding to the damage. An asphalt mix is used to repair and replace the distressed area. 

Final Words

It is imperative to undertake routine asphalt crack repair using asphalt crack filling equipment. Untreated cracks tend to get bigger with time and this can lead to potholes. Proper identification of the root cause helps to find out an appropriate remedy that can offer a quick fix for restoring the asphalt to its optimum function. 

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