3 Common Types Of Asphalt Cracks & How To Fix Them

3 Common Types Of Asphalt Cracks

Alligator cracking, longitudinal cracking and transverse cracking are common asphalt cracks that require unique repair methods. Kleenco Construction specializes in these types of repairs and will ensure that your asphalt is safe for years to come.

Here Are 3 Common Types Of Asphalt Cracks & How To Fix Them

1. Longitudinal Cracking

As the name indicates, longitudinal cracks run parallel to the centerline of the roadway. Cracks are not connected, and may appear somewhat random in formation. Cracks that appear in the wheel path should be repaired as soon as possible, as they will only continue to worsen. Cracks in the wheelpath will worsen faster than longitudinal cracks outside of the wheel path.

What causes longitudinal cracking?

Longitudinal cracks are not load-related. A number of things can contribute to longitudinal cracking, such as:

-Improperly constructed joints

-Shrinking asphalt

-Cracks located beneath the top surface moving up

-Longitudinal segregation related to improper paver operation

How severe are longitudinal cracks? 

The first signs of longitudinal cracking will show little to no signs of spalling. Minor cracks measure no more than ¼-inch wide.

If no sealant is applied cracks will progress to moderate severity, during which phase they should still show little to no signs of spalling. You will notice some of the cracks starting to interconnect, especially near the main crack or near the corners of intersecting cracks.

Severe longitudinal cracks are spalled and pieces of asphalt may be missing from the crack. You may also notice a few randomly spaced cracks near the main cracks or at the corners of intersecting cracks.

How to fix longitudinal cracks

Low severity cracks can be sealed in order to prevent worsening of the problem, which will happen when moisture enters through cracks. More severe cracks must be removed and replaced with an overlay. These types of cracks will turn into alligator cracking if they are not fixed in a timely manner.

2. Alligator Cracking

Alligator cracking is generally associated with roadways that get a significant amount of consistent traffic. The first sign of alligator cracking resembles parallel longitudinal cracks in the wheel path. Over time cracks become more complicated interconnected patterns. Once longitudinal cracks begin to interconnect it is officially classified as ‘alligator cracking.’

While this type of cracking is commonly seen in the wheel path, it’s not uncommon for alligator cracking to appear along the centerline on narrow two lane roads. Regardless of where they appear, they are almost always parallel to the road or the direction that vehicles travel. If alligator cracking is ignored it worsens considerably over time.

What causes alligator cracking?

Oftentimes, the cause of alligator cracking relates to issues beneath the surface. Causes may also relate to cold-weather damage and repetitive freeze and thaw cycles.

How severe is alligator cracking?

The first signs of alligator cracking, or low severity cracking, is noticeable by thin cracks that are just starting to interconnect but are not yet spalling.

As cracking severity increases the cracks will connect and develop the appearance of alligator scales—hence their name. At this point you may start to notice some spalling near the edges of cracks. All pavement pieces should still remain in place and cracks may measure more than ¼-inch wide.

The most severe alligator cracks show signs of well developed spalling. There may also be entire chunks of asphalt coming loose and falling out of place under the pressures of traffic.

How to fix alligator cracking

The best solution will vary based upon the extent and cause of the damage. The damage and sub-base must be evaluated in order to determine the best course of action. Damaged areas can then be removed and repaired. In some cases the entire surface needs to be repaired.

3. Transverse Cracking

Transverse cracks run perpendicular to the center of the roadway. They can extend the entire width of the pavement, or may only extend partially. To be technically considered a transverse crack it should measure at least 2-feet in length.

What causes transverse cracking?

This type of crack may form due to surface shrinkage related to low temperatures, cracks on the underlying pavement layers or hardening of the asphalt.

How severe is transverse cracking?

Early stages of transverse cracking will show little to no spalling and measure under ¼-inch wide. Cracks should be sealed at this point, which will thus classify them as low severity.

As cracks progress to medium severity they will continue to show little to no spalling, but they will expand to over ¼-inch in width. You may notice some connecting cracks forming near the main crack or at the corners of intersecting cracks.

Severe transverse cracks are spalled and often have a number of randomly spaced cracks forming near the main crack or along corners of intersecting cracks. You will notice chunks of asphalt missing along the main crack.

How to fix transverse cracks

Low severity cracks can be sealed in order to prevent moisture getting inside and causing further damage. High severity cracks that measure more than ½-inch wide must be removed and replaced.