Alligator Cracking: How To Identify & Repair Distressed Asphalt

Alligator Cracking: How To Identify & Repair Distressed Asphalt

Alligator cracking, also known as pavement fatigue or crocodile cracking, is a common issue for commercial asphalt because it is directly linked to load-related distress.

Commercial parking lots, roadways and other surfaces get a lot of traffic, hence why it’s common to see these types of cracks. Fatigue cracks are common in areas that receive a consistent flow of traffic. These types of cracks most commonly form along wheel paths.

It’s important to note that sub base problems can contribute to the issue and a solid sub base can actually prevent the issue altogether. Quality of original construction is fundamental to the longevity of surfaces.

It’s important to take care of alligator cracks as soon as they appear in order to prevent worsening of the problem. If ignored for too long, repairs can quickly go from affordable to costly.

Signs Of Pavement Fatigue

Signs of pavement fatigue often resemble the scales on an alligator’s back with lots of little cracks forming together into uniform patterns and shapes, hence the term ‘alligator cracking’. These interconnected cracks form a series of small polygons, which tend to be under 1-foot in distance from one another on the longest side.

Generally, closely linked cracks appear in the earlier stages of development. If you noticed closely linked cracks forming, but now they appear differently, it is a likely sign that damage is becoming increasingly worse.

What Causes Alligator Cracking?

Possible causes of alligator cracking include:

  • Inadequate drainage systems
  • Poor or weak subgrade, base or surface
  • Excessive loading

One of the above, or a combination of several issues can contribute to alligator cracking. A professional construction company that specializes in asphalt paving and repairs will be able to identify alligator cracking, as well as the cause(s) of the problem.

If a weak subgrade or inadequate drainage system is causing the cracks to appear you’ll need to have it fixed so that the problem doesn’t simply return.

How To Identify Severity Of Alligator Cracking

No one is a better judge of asphalt fatigue than our professional team of industry experts. After all, we have truly witnessed and fixed it all over the years.

Prior to having us out, there are a few signs you can use to identify if damage is regarded as low, moderate or high severity.

Low Severity: If there are only a few or no connecting cracks you know damage has not had a chance to progress. Low severity damage is also indicative if cracks are not spalled or sealed and pumping is not apparent.

Moderate Severity: If you notice a fairly complex series of interconnected cracks that form a complete pattern you are likely looking at moderately severe damage. At this stage, cracks may start to spall. Cracks may be sealed but pumping is not apparent.

High Severity: The worst cases of fatigue cracking will include an area of moderately to severely spalled asphalt. Also, many interconnecting cracks will form a complete pattern. Actual chunks of asphalt may move when put under the weight of traffic. Cracks may be sealed, and pumping is often evident.

How To Fix Alligator Cracking or Fatigue

If cracking is not too progressed, crack sealing is a potential temporary fix. If you’re looking for a permanent fix, the asphalt will need to be cut, milled and replaced.

It’s important to note that the problem can be largely avoided if the sub base is done properly. Hiring an experienced and reputable company to install asphalt is key to preventing a world of issues like this from continually cropping up over time.

The appropriate method for repairs will vary depending on a number of factors, including the extent of damage and the cause of cracking. No matter the extent of alligator cracking, Kleenco Construction has the tools, expertise and knowledgeable team to fix the issue the first time around.

What Happens If You Ignore Alligator Cracking?

If you ignore these cracks they are only going to get worse. Every time it rains or water runs off over the surface it can seep inside of these little cracks, making the damage that much worse.

Not to mention, the longer you wait to repair the problem the more costly it will be to do so.

There are different types of cracks that may be confused for alligator cracking. It’s important to know exactly what kind of asphalt cracks you are dealing with in order to apply the right repair methods.

Kleenco Construction is proud to offer superior commercial asphalt paving services. From industry leading installations to pristine repairs, we are prepared to handle it all.