Due to Asphalt’s durability, flexibility, and value for money, it has been a popular paving choice for many homeowners and business owners. Notwithstanding, over time, changing weather, poor maintenance, aging, poor site preparation, and even stress from heavy vehicles can lead to issues. These issues may continue to worsen if moisture is absorbed into the Asphalt’s base.
If you fail to get the right professional to carry out your asphalt paving, you may encounter various more severe issues down the road, needing costly repairs or re-paving.
The nature and magnitude of the degradation must be recognized, and the cause of the distress must be determined to address these problems of asphalt roadways efficiently. After identifying the roadway issue, choose the appropriate paving services.
It is crucial that you know about typical problems of asphalt roadways so you can act quickly to save money.
Here are 15 most common issues of asphalt roadways you need to be aware of:
- Alligator Cracking
- Block Cracking
- Longitudinal Cracking
- Transverse Cracking
- Edge Cracks
- Joint Reflection Cracks
- Slippage Cracks
- Depressions (Bird Baths)
- Patch Failures
1. Alligator cracking
Alligator cracking develops as the subgrade and asphalt layer starts compressing from carrying heavy vehicles. They are the product of underlying issues, commonly under the surface.
If many heavy vehicles move over the surface of your asphalt roadway, the lower layers compact, leading to cracks along the upper surface. Random patterns that appear like alligator scales are formed by these cracks, thus the term alligator cracks.
Alligator cracking is usually observed at the intersection where vehicles are halted for a prolonged period. As these cracks represent problems under the surface, it would be appropriate to remove and cover the whole area with alligator cracks.
What causes the formation of alligator cracking on roadways?
Alligator cracking can form on your driveway as a result of the following causes:
- When the pavement is carrying weights that exceed the tolerance of the supporting structure
- A weakened base course or subgrade
- Too little pavement thickness
- Tree roots, soil erosion, and ground movement
- Soil with a high content of clay.
2. Block Cracking
Problems of asphalt roadways also include Block cracking that can form by seasonal temperature changes, making the Asphalt to expand and compact.
If seasonal temperatures trigger the pavement surface’s expansion and contraction, the concrete blocks under the asphalt concrete may develop cracks around them.
If an asphalt surface has too rigid of a mix design, preventing the surface from seasonal density changes, block cracking may form. In a much larger pattern, this issue looks like alligator cracking. It happens when the asphalt aggregate’s binding material fails to expand and contract with seasonal temperature variations.
What causes block cracking to form or roadways?
- Block cracking occurs when the asphalt binder can not expand and contract with temperature rotations due to age-related solidification or poor selection of asphalt binder in the mix.
- It is also caused by asphalt concrete shrinkage and frequent temperature rotation, and it is not attributed to load.
3. Longitudinal Cracking
Longitudinal cracks on roadways are formed parallel to the pavement’s centerline and can extend along most of the roadway if impacted. These cracks, like block cracks, are typically indicative of joint fragmentation.
They can result from pavement exhaustion (where the weight the road experiences exceeds what it is meant to endure) or reflective cracking.
What causes Longitudinal cracking?
- Poorly built joints
- Asphalt shrinkage/expansion with temperature cycles
- Cracks resulting from an underlying layer
4. Transverse Cracking
This sort of crack runs through an asphalt roadway in the opposite direction. It may be the effect of structural cracks, changes in temperature, or bad design. Smaller transverse cracks, much like longitudinal cracks, can be resealed to prevent moisture from slipping into the lower surface
What are the causes of transverse cracks?
They are mostly caused by:
- Settling or shifting base material
- Improper paver operation
- Extreme temperature shifts
5. Edge Cracks
Other problems of asphalt roadways are Edge cracks, often found on rural roads and driveways than in urban roads and form within one to two feet of a pavement’s outer edge.
Damage to the edge of the road surface happens when water is able to penetrate under direct interaction with organic substrates or dirt. The first step in addressing edge-related issues is to clear any plants or an excessive amount of organic materials directly in contact with the roadway.
What causes Edge Cracks on roadways?
- Poor drainage along the road.
- Heavy vehicles that drive very nearly to the edge of the road
- Low-quality base or sub-base
- Asphalt shrinkage
6. Joint Reflection Cracks
Joint cracking occurs along pavement overlay roadways where a versatile asphalt foundation is paved over. Over time, the asphalt sub-base can expand and contract, triggering cracks to form around the asphalt joints. They form directly above the rigid pavement joints underneath them.
Joint cracking does not involve cracks that happen away from an underlying joint or some other base type. This type of cracks develops over joints or cracks in asphalt concrete or a superposition of a degraded asphalt pavement. The cracks develop due to the old pavement’s movement.
Causes of Joint Reflection Cracks.
- Joint reflection cracking is primarily caused by the solid pavement slab’s movement underneath the asphalt concrete due to thermal and moisture shifts.
7. Slippage Cracks
These types of cracks are half-crescent in shape and show the top surface splitting from the surface underlying. These crescent-shaped crack patterns typically occur soon after completing paving construction, usually within hours or days.
The cracks appear like stretch-marks, with portions of the surface spread over the top of the unimpaired surface. Slippage cracks are one of the major problems of asphalt roadways, which derive their name from the cause.
This problem may have been influenced by the road installer’s failure to use an adhesive agent between layers, usually a tack coat.
Since a problem under the road surface causes this form of damage, the crack area would need to be extracted and replaced. This may involve a partial or total depth patch.
What causes slippage cracks on asphalt roadways?
- It is mainly caused by weak material bonding with a low-strength surface mix or an underlying layer
- It can also be caused by braking or spinning wheels, which may trigger the surface of the pavement to slide and deform
Potholes are bowl-shaped, sizable depressions in the asphalt pavement surface that deepen down to the base course through the asphalt layer. Potholes begin as tiny holes and have expanded through the top pavement layers to their base, creating sharp edges around the crack.
The potholes’ edges can become very sharp, and asphalt pavement potholes can expand with time as the impacted area is infiltrated by moisture.
A pothole is the traditional asphalt damage you are most likely to spot, which has the highest opportunity of damaging your car if you navigate terribly over the obstacle.
These infamous safety hazards are among the most widespread problems of Asphalt roadways. The pothole’s width and roughness can cause significant vehicle damage and pose a danger to the foot.
What causes potholes to form on roadways?
- The continuous infiltration of water triggers potholes from existing surface cracks.
- They are also developed when groundwater expand and contract after the water has penetrated the ground under the pavement.
9. Depressions (Bird Baths)
Compressions or rough sub-bases form a depression in an asphalt road surface over time. Depressions are road areas with visible dips that are not sparked by cracks or loss of pavement.
These shallow ponds resemble your traditional garden store birdbath. They are usually referred to as bird baths as they are frequently filled with water. Depressions have a lower elevation than the asphalt surface, enabling the area to retain water for extended periods.
Since the road was most certainly compacted improperly, it would be appropriate to fill the entire impacted area down to the subgrade and then patch over. The water and debris usually deposited in depressions will wear and degrade the asphalt surface durability if not repaired immediately.
What are the causes of depression on roadways?
- Depressions can be caused by improper compaction of road surface foundation
- It can also be due to damage under the roadway
- Heavy vehicle weight can trigger this issue faster
- Moisture seeping or other settling issues can also cause depressions
Rutting is funneled depressions in an asphalt road surface that occur over a period from surpassed weight limits and incorrect base design. Rutting is famous as one of the problems of asphalt roadways surfaces and can occur even though all has been done correctly in constructing the roadway.
If rutting develops in an asphalt road surface, the foundation must be fixed or restructured to allow heavy vehicle traffic. Pavement rutting indicates that the road surface needs to be replaced.
What causes rutting?
- Rutting is primarily caused by multiple vehicles driving down the roadway over an extended period, resulting in visible areas of degradation where tires travel most frequently.
Shoving appears like waves and is formed over an asphalt pavement. These odd shapes are formed by vehicles that stop and start on the road and are perpendicular to the traffic direction, and are typically present at the intersection.
This kind of traffic activity should not be sufficient to cause this kind of pavement damage on its own; one of the under-layers is often usually unstable, causing wrinkles to form on the top surface over that surface.
If shoving is localized, the problem’s cause can be found and managed without scraping much of the roadway surface.
What are the things that cause shoving to form?
Shoving is mainly caused by:
- Excess Asphalt
- Too much fine aggregate
- Rounded aggregate
- Too soft an asphalt
- Weak granular base.
Upheaval is a confined upward movement in asphalt pavement due to the sub-grade expansion resulting from freezing or too much moisture. One example of this kind of asphalt distress is the Frost heave.
What causes Upheaval?
- Swelling of the subgrade
- Expansive soil or formation and expansion of ice under the pavement
Raveling is the gradual fragmentation of the road surface, with a variety of various potential causes. If you have noticed loose gravel and grit on the pavement, it means you have probably seen a raveling.
This issue arises when the pavement does not get the anticipated warm-weather traffic that it needs to compress further and squeeze the Asphalt together. Pavement fragments begin to break from the surface, leaving small indentations aside.
What causes raveling on asphalt pavement?
- An incorrect mixture of the asphalt concrete.
- When the Asphalt is laid under extreme cold weather.
14. Patch Failures
A patch is the part of the pavement that has been removed and substituted. Usually, patches are used to fix pavement damages or to cover a utility trench. Patch failure can cause the surrounding pavement to fail more extensively. The root cause of these problems of asphalt roadways is under the pothole.
What are the causes of patch failure?
Patch failure is influenced by the following:
- Materials selection
- Quality of the surrounding or underlying pavement.
Bleeding on roadways is when the asphalt cement forms a smooth film on the pavement. It is usually glossy and black and is sticky when dry and slippery when wet, losing its skid resistance. This coating removes the traction of tires, rendering the pavement extremely dangerous in wet weather.
What are the things that cause bleeding on roadways?
- Too much Asphalt in the mix
- poor construction of a seal coat
- Excess tack or bond coat
What are the other things that need to be addressed before asphalt maintenance?
- Oil Spots – Oil spots are a common issue that your roadways and parking lots may encounter. Before sealing, these areas need to be handled; otherwise, the oil and chemicals can seep through the freshly applied material, making the sealed surface inefficient.
- Grass – Parking lots and driveways that are poorly maintained will cause the grasses to often grow up through the cracks. So, ensure you clean the cracks before sealing them
- Berry stains, mud, tree sap, etc. – It is essential to remove everything that might sit between the Asphalt and the sealer because the sealer will not stick to the Asphalt correctly without removing it and will gradually peel off.
If your parking lots, roadways, or driveways encounter pavement failure, it is ideal for fixing the problem before it deteriorates or spreads further.Always ensure you contact a professional paving contractor immediately you observe a failure on your driveway, parking lot, or roadways. Paving contractors will help fix any problems of asphalt roadways before they become severe, making the most of your pavement life. Doing so will help you prevent significant repairs by fixing cracks and other problems before they escalate.