Over time asphalt surfaces wear out due to repetitive traffic and an accumulation of issues, along with an assortment of influencing factors. When asphalt is properly installed, the most common reason it breaks down relates to natural wear and tear from the weather. Human error and overloading asphalt can also contribute to issues.
Common Types of Pavement Distress
- Cracking: Different types of cracks can impact pavement surfaces. In fact, cracks are the leading cause of asphalt deterioration. Different terms used to describe cracking include: edge joint, shrinkage, reflection, or alligatoring—just to name a few.
- Disintegration: When asphalt surfaces ‘disintegrate’ they may do so because of gas or oil spills, or worsening potholes. Pretty much anything that causes surfaces to unnaturally wear away.
- Distortion: This issue typically relates to faulty construction, and covers issues such as grade depressions, channels or ruts, as well as corrugations and shoving.
- Skidding hazards
- Surface treatment distresses
The most common causes of asphalt deterioration include:
- Traffic loading
- Issues with drainage
- Problems with quality of materials
- Pressure from environmental or climate factors
- Issues with quality of construction
- Utility cuts or other external contributors
Asphalt Wear & Tear Related to Low Quality Materials
The quality of materials used to create asphalt surfaces can help them to last longer, or cause surfaces to break down sooner. To create high quality asphalt, complete quality management must begin during the collection and processing of aggregate materials. The goal is to collect aggregated materials that are durable and angular to help encourage longevity.
Asphalt Wear & Tear Related to Lack of Maintenance
It’s very common for one problem to turn into another. Say for instance, a crack in the sidewalk goes unfixed, thus allowing water to seep inside. Once inside, moisture goes to work freezing and thawing with temperature fluctuations. This freeze/thaw process undermines the stability of asphalt surfaces and leads to worsening cracks and a greater potential for potholes. Therefore, it’s so important to perform timely maintenance and repairs.
Maintenance also includes proper upkeep—such as coating pavement with a sealant approximately 2-3 months after application, and again as needed.
Asphalt Wear & Tear Related to Overloading Surfaces
Asphalt must be constructed to handle the weight load it is expected to take on day after day. A road that is constantly overloaded with heavy trucks will show signs of wear and tear faster.
Fatigue cracking, also known as alligator cracking, is a common issue related to overloading surfaces. Alligator cracks are a series of interconnected cracks that can be compared to the appearance of scales on an alligator’s back—hence the name ‘alligator cracking.’
Load-related deterioration that leads to fatigue cracking can also be caused by a weakened subgrade, not enough pavement thickness, or a combination of factors.
Asphalt Wear & Tear Related to Landscape Irrigation Issues
Landscape irrigation can cause several issues with asphalt surfaces. If there is heavy water run off around surfaces, it is likely to lead to erosion. Heavy vehicles that are stationary or slow moving further magnify these pressures.
Get on the Road to Longer Lasting Asphalt Surfaces
To keep asphalt surfaces strong, make sure to reapply sealcoat as needed and take care of maintenance and repairs. Even if it’s just a small crack, take care of it as soon as possible to prevent problems from worsening. Have surfaces inspected and maintained before winter to reduce the risk for damages related to continuous freeze/thaw cycles.
Kleenco Construction wants to help you get the most out of asphalt surfaces. We offer superior asphalt construction and maintenance for commercial projects of all types and sizes. Contact us today to learn more and get a quote.