Different Types of Asphalt Cracks

September 30, 2020

Different Types of Asphalt Cracks

To the average homeowner, a crack in the driveway is simply a crack and all cracks are the same. The asphalt professional knows better, though. There are several different types of asphalt cracks that each have different causes. Different climate and weather conditions across the country contribute to asphalt cracks. Identifying the type of crack and its cause is important to know how best to fill and repair it. Prompt maintenance of the pavement is crucial to improving its condition and extending its life.

Edge Cracking

Edge cracks are long cracks that appear near the edges of the pavement. Settling of subgrade material, drying of soil, or a lack of lateral support are the usual causes of this kind of cracking. Roots from trees and nearby shrubs can also lead to this, as they grow near the surface and begin to lift the asphalt. Typical repairs involve removing the material around the crack until you reach a solid layer and can resurface the area.

Slippage Cracking

Slippage cracks are crescent-shaped and one of the more common types of asphalt cracks. They occur when non-adhesive materials such as water and dirt get between the asphalt layers and weaken the bond. Low strength or a deficient asphalt mix is another reason for slippage cracks. Breaking out the cracked area and filling it with a cold patch fixes the cracks.

Reflection Cracking

Different types of asphalt cracking have different causes. Reflection cracking is the result of lazy paving. When a paving crew lays fresh asphalt over the top of broken or cracked asphalt, inevitably, there will be reflection cracking. Putting new asphalt over broken asphalt is like painting over cracked paint—it won’t stick, and eventually, it will break apart. The old pavement will move and shift over time, eventually breaking apart the new asphalt.

Transverse Cracking

Cracks that form perpendicular to the centerline are commonly known as transverse cracks. Transverse cracking occurs due to low-temperature thermal cracking or because the asphalt grade is too hard for climate conditions. These cracks are often caused by asphalt layer shrinkage, and they are not load-related but can be aggravated by heavy traffic. Generally, repairing this type of crack calls for sealant or replacement with a new overlay.

Fatigue Cracking

Fatigue cracking is also known as alligator cracking because it resembles the back of the massive reptile. The cracks come in bunches, and they are small and clustered together. As the name implies, fatigue cracking is due to constant heavy loads on the pavement. The layers are often too thin to handle the load, and the pavement begins to break apart. The only remedy is to break apart the cracks and repave the area with a thicker and sturdier layer.

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