Early Warning Signs Of Alligator Cracking

Early Warning Signs Of Alligator Cracking

Numerous longitudinal cracks are often the first sign of alligator cracking, but in order to determine the appropriate repairs it’s important to identify the cause of alligator cracking. Alligator cracking, also known as crocodile cracking or fatigue cracking, is a common type of distress that impacts asphalt pavement. This type of crack gets its name due to the fact it looks like an alligator’s scaly back. You can identify alligator cracking by its intricate series of interconnected cracks in asphalt.

There are different types of asphalt cracks, including block cracking, edge cracks, reflection cracks, slippage cracks and so forth. Alligator cracking is one of the more serious types. The type of crack is important to identify because it provides telling clues about the cause. In order to address the issue and fix cracks, it’s adamant that the problem is fixed first and foremost.

The Number One Sign Of Alligator Cracking

Alligator cracking starts off as smaller cracks that are not yet tightly interconnected but still somewhat close together. They generally start off as longitudinal cracks, or cracks in the top layer of asphalt that move in the same direction as the flow of traffic. Cracks start out very thin and dispersed throughout a given area.

If left untreated, these cracks worsen and begin interconnecting to form sharp-sided prismatic shapes. As alligator cracking progresses it turns into severe spalling as loose chunks of pavement start falling out of place.

Common Causes Of Alligator Cracking

The most common causes of alligator cracking include:

-A weak surface, base, or subgrade due to faulty construction or damages that accumulate over time.

-The surface or base is too thin.

-Unresolved drainage issues

-Edge cracking, crescent-shaped cracks that form along the edge of a road, can lead to alligator cracking. Edge cracks form as a result of insufficient road support, which relates to poor drainage or weak shoulders. When left unresolved, edge cracks eventually form into alligator cracks. Water has a tendency to pool on the edges of roadways because roads are generally slanted in order to stop water from pooling in roadway wheel paths.

-Stripping or raveling can contribute to alligator cracking. Stripping is the result of poor adhesion between asphalt and aggregate materials, which causes the surface to dislodge. Overtime this causes pavement surfaces to thin out and load bearing capacity reduces as a result. This brings us to another common cause of alligator cracking: Excessive loading.

-Excessive loading, having too many heavy trucks drive over surfaces day after day puts a lot of stress on asphalt, hence why loading failure is the most common cause of alligator cracking.

Alligator cracking can be caused by one or more of these issues, often one cause dominoes into another.

How To Prevent Alligator Cracking

Fixing cracks on a regular basis is the only way to stop minor cracks from progressing into more serious things, like alligator cracking or potholes. In the earliest stages you can use sealant to fill cracks, this helps reduce future deterioration so that surfaces last longer. If the damage is badly progressed, small areas may need to be completely removed and replaced with a new base and asphalt layer.

Another way to prevent alligator cracking is to prevent overloading, one of the leading causes of alligator cracks. Know the loads your pavement is expected to uphold and make sure the asphalt poured can stand up to those challenges. Certain damages over time can lead to a reduction in load bearing capacity, which is why it’s so important to keep up with regular asphalt maintenance.

You can also help prevent alligator cracking by installing sufficient drainage systems. If water regularly pools in certain areas of asphalt it weakens surfaces in numerous ways, leading to major cracks and even potholes.  

In some cases it can be difficult to determine the cause of alligator cracking, in which case a more in-depth investigation may be necessary. This may involve digging down into the pavement and subbase in order to identify the pavement’s structural makeup. This can determine if subsurface moisture is to blame.

Can You Fix Alligator Cracking?

The appropriate repairs for alligator cracking depends on the extent and depth of cracks. There are solutions to any degree of alligator cracking. Contact us today for a competitive quote.